Dana Laliberte was a North Peace Community Living Society board member in the late 1980’s.
Dana lived and grew up in the neighbourhood that included Sunshine House in Peace River. She remembers playing with the youth living at Sunshine House and would babysit some disabled children also living in an area duplex.
For years, Dana was a Special Education Teacher in the Catholic school system, later becoming the Special Education Coordinator and was invited to sit on the NPCLS Board of Directors.
The organization believed in community integration with supports says, Dana. “We fought to get them into the school system. So that was very challenging because the philosophy on the board and a few of us in the school setting was very different than most people. And so, we were really fighting an uphill battle, people really felt they didn’t belong in the school system, they felt they had nothing to offer, nothing to contribute.”
Back in the late ’80s, Dana says Sunshine House was not used as a residence for Individuals but as offices for staff and her main responsibility was sitting on the Personnel Committee.
She says it was challenging as a board member, working with personnel but says she felt like they were making headway.
“If you’re on a board like North Peace Community Living Society, you have to be ahead of the game, always. You are always out front. This board was really out front.”
“It was a really challenging time,” remembers Dana. “Because we were fighting against what most people believed. And people didn’t want a group home next to their house, there was a lot of that.”
“I am grateful for the work that they have done over the years because it hasn’t been easy.”
Dana says the organization was key in promoting the message of inclusion. “They stood by it and breathed it and I am very grateful they were in our community doing that because those young people deserved it, they needed someone advocating for them.”