Meet our accessibility experts
What does the panel do?
Advisory panel biographies
Leonard Baker is the President and Chief Executive Officer of March of Dimes Canada, a registered charity committed to championing equity, empowering ability, and creating real change that will help people with disabilities live and thrive in their communities.
With a career in the disability sector spanning nearly three decades, Len has held executive leadership roles at the provincial, regional and national levels and worked with consumers, stakeholders, and governments to expand the quality and scope of services available to people with disabilities. He joined March of Dimes Canada in 2018, where he leads a nationwide team of thousands of skilled employees and volunteers who support people with disabilities in their homes, at work, and in the community.
A collaborative, passionate, and dynamic leader, Len is committed to building a barrier-free society and delivering progress for people with disabilities through innovation. He is committed to championing the engagement of people with disabilities in March of Dimes Canada’s mission and driving the establishment of new partnerships to enhance impact.
Originally from Newfoundland and Labrador, Len now resides in the York region of Ontario.
Neil Belanger has over 30 years of experience in the disability and health sectors. Neil is the Executive Director of the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society or BCANDS, a position he has held since 2009. BCANDS is the only Indigenous disability organization of its kind in Canada and has been recognized nationally and internationally for its work in Indigenous disability, receiving seven national and provincial awards of excellence since 2013. In 2017, Neil presented on Indigenous disability issues to the United Nations’ International Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva.
In addition to his work at BCANDS, Neil serves in a variety of advisory roles to provincial ministry initiatives, as well as to federally funded and community-based organizations. These include: member of the Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction; member of the Minister’s Council on Employment and Accessibility; member of the Minister’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Action Group; member of the Assistant Deputy Minister’s Supporting Increased Participation (SIP) Committee; leadership team member with the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance; and as a board member for Inclusion BC.
Neil is a member of the Lax Se el (Frog) Clan of the Gitxsan First Nation and resides in Victoria with his wife and two children.
Gary Birch was appointed director of research and development at the Neil Squire Society in 1988 and appointed executive director in 1994. He earned his B.A. Sc. in Electrical Engineering in 1983, and in 1988 received a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering (Biomedical Signal Processing), both from the University of British Columbia. His specific areas of expertise are assistive technologies, direct brain-computer interface, digital signal processing, human-machine interface systems and service delivery programs for persons with disabilities.
In 2008 Gary was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honour for lifetime achievement, for his work with the Neil Squire Society. In 2012 he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, and in 2017 he was appointed to the Order of British Columbia, the province’s highest form of recognition.
Kory Earle is a young disability rights advocate in Ontario. Kory is the current president of People First of Canada and has been involved with the organization since 2006 on the local, provincial and national level.
Kory's mission is to ensure that all people with disabilities are treated equally and that their rights are respected, and in his advocacy work, he makes sure he is speaking for himself as well as those whose voices are not being heard.
On the national level, Kory is also active on the Inclusive Education committee for People First of Canada and uses his own lived experiences in the school system to help build more inclusive actions and attitudes in education for people with intellectual disabilities. Kory has given many presentations to diverse groups through both his career and his work with People First.
A highlight in Kory’s career is presenting at the 9th Conference of State Parties at the United Nations in New York City in 2016. The experience of being at the UN and having the opportunity to share Canada’s barriers, struggles and successes with others from all over the world is something Kory never imagined himself doing.
Kory credits the founding members of the People First movement for helping him develop as a leader and activist and continues this role by mentoring new members to the movement.
Shelley Fletcher has been the executive director of People First of Canada since 2002. Prior to her national position, Shelley had been employed and active in the disability rights movement locally and provincially in Manitoba.
Once introduced to the People First movement, Shelley began volunteering, which soon turned into a full-time national position.
A strong advocate for people labelled with an intellectual disability, Shelley credits People First for providing her with some amazing opportunities in her national role. She is proud to have been part of the team that produced The Freedom Tour, and was honoured to speak at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Shelley is also a representative on the Canadian Joint Task Force on the Right to Live in Community.
Through People First, Shelley’s involvement with the international disability community has provided her with very moving experiences regarding the lives and treatment of people with intellectual disabilities throughout the world. She is acutely aware of the exclusion and discrimination that many people with intellectual disabilities face in their lives and works daily towards advancing the agenda on a more inclusive Canada.
Shelley spent the last 17 years living in rural Manitoba and recently relocated in Winnipeg with her two children.
Paula MacDonald is an Indigenous Deaf undergraduate student, currently living in Ottawa. Her band is Pasqua First Nation, Saulteaux-Cree. Paula is majoring in Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton University. She is expected to graduate with honours in the spring of 2023. Previously, Paula graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) with an Associate Degree of Applied Science degree in Computer-Aided Drafting Technology. Her long-term goal is to continue expanding and strengthening both Deaf and Indigenous communities across Canada. Her career goal is to work with Indigenous Deaf communities and provide them with better opportunities and resources that accommodate their home, school, and community. Paula currently works at Indigenous Services Canada.
Hannah MacLellan has been advocating for people with disabilities since she was 11 years old as an Easter Seals Ambassador. While in high school, she successfully lobbied the P.E.I Government to pass a law for that would require a progressive and inclusive description of people with disabilities on Accessible Parking Signs. A few years later, Hannah’s advocacy efforts contributed to the P.E.I. Government altering the terminology of six other provincial Acts. In 2019, Hannah represented her Federal Riding at the Daughters of the Vote, a political engagement event for young women and gender-diverse youth. During this event, Hannah was selected and shortlisted to speak on the floor of House of Commons. She spoke on the importance of Bill C-81, an Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada. Later that year, Hannah was selected as a youth representative for the Canadian Delegation at the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. At the Conference, she was the sole youth panelist on the “Intersectional Barriers and Challenges of Persons with Disabilities” session.
Hannah is a current Board member of the P.E.I. Cerebral Palsy Association and works as a student at Veterans Affairs Canada. She is a former nationally ranked Para-swimmer and competed internationally.
Hannah hails from Pownal, Prince Edward Island. She is 23 years old and was born with Cerebral Palsy. She is in her final year of the Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights and Social Justice Degree at Carleton University.
After completing his MSW at Wilfred Laurier University, Dean began his career at the Ontario March of Dimes as a community development officer and was quickly promoted to regional director. He moved to Ottawa in 1980 to become executive director of the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association and after ten years, he joined the team at Carleton University to open the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC). Dean recently completed a six-year term as acting director of Carleton’s READ Initiative (Research, Education, Accessibility and Design). He will continue as a special advisor to the READ Initiative.
Dean enjoyed a long career as a competitive athlete representing Canada with medal performances in Paralympics and World Championships in over three decades, highlighted by a gold medal in the 1976 Olympiad, a bronze medal in the 1994 Winter Paralympics in Lillehammer and a silver medal in the 1998 Winter Paralympics in Nagano. He competed in snooker, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis and sledge hockey.
Dean has also enjoyed a long career in various volunteer capacities serving persons with disabilities. He recently completed a three-year term on the Province of Ontario Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee/Standards Development Committee.
Duane Morgan is the Executive Director for the CNIB Foundation in Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick. He is also the Executive Lead for Beyond Print, an organization dedicated to producing alternate formats of print materials. Duane has been a full-time member of the CNIB team for 15 years. As a person living with significant sight loss, Duane first became a client of CNIB nearly 40 years ago and accessed services and volunteered prior to his employment. Duane knows first-hand the challenges and barriers that are faced by people living with sight loss, and has worked with many people with varying degrees of sight loss. He uses these experiences to help direct the development and delivery of innovative programs and powerful advocacy to change what it is to be blind in Canada.
Early in his career with the CNIB Foundation, Duane played a large role in establishing a Career Supports program to help fill a gap in services for people with sight loss seeking to enter the labour market in Newfoundland and Labrador. A few years later, Duane played a leadership role in a successful advocacy initiative that resulted in the Newfoundland and Labrador government committing to providing sustainable funding for Vision Loss Rehabilitation services. While in the role of Executive Director for Ontario East, Duane established a new CNIB Community Hub, and worked to strengthen relationships with stakeholders throughout the region. He has since returned home to continue his work in Atlantic Canada.
James (Jim) Roots has been a leader in national disability rights for over 40 years. He was the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of the Deaf and is the author of several highly praised books, including The Politics of Visual Language: Deafness, Language Choice, and Political Socialization, and co-author of The Employment and Employability of Deaf Canadians. Jim also wrote, produced, and directed the Sign language version of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and a similar version of the Canadian Human Rights Commission complaints procedure, for which he won a Special Recognition Award.
As a private educational advocate, he has assisted several families in obtaining appropriate educational placement and support services. He was the plaintiff in three law cases affirming the accessibility rights of Deaf Canadians. He has served on many advisory councils at the federal and provincial levels, including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Advisory Council – Communications and Information.
His academic achievements include a Master’s degree in Political Science, a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Diploma in Book Editing and Design, and certificates in Project Management, Fundraising Management, and Dispute Resolution. Deaf himself, he is married to a Quebecoise who is hard of hearing and has a mobility impairment. Jim is the father of four, including a daughter with Down syndrome and a son with FASD, deafness, learning disabilities, and physical disabilities.
Meenu Sikand is the executive lead of equity, diversity and inclusion at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and the co-chair of the inaugural IDEA Task Force (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility), which is part of Holland Bloorview’s action plan to address systemic racism within and outside of the hospital. She is also the founder and CEO of Accessibility for All, a non-profit organization that works to identify, address and meet the needs of marginalized communities. Previously, Meenu worked within corporate, government, non-profit and academic sectors.
Meenu’s volunteer roles underscore her commitment to diversity and to creating enabling conditions that facilitate inclusion. She is an active member of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine Diversity Advisory Council and the Disability without Poverty Leadership team. Meenu has been appointed as a member of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council of Ontario by the Minister of Seniors and Accessibility and is one of the founding members of Race and Disability Canada (RAD).
In 2020, Meenu was the first South-Asian Woman to be inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame. She also received an award from the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) as Senior Executive of the Year.
Jewelles Smith is the Communication and Government Relations Coordinator with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), and is an advisor to the board of directors of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS).
Jewelles completed training with Disability Rights Promotion International in 2009 and completed the Women’s Human Rights Institute 6-week training in 2012. She was part of the Canadian Civil Society delegation to Geneva during Canada’s first review of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN-CRPD) in 2017. She was a member of Canada’s delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) in 2019.
Jewelles is a PhD candidate at UBC Okanagan. Her dissertation focuses on understanding the experiences of disabled mothers in Canada through a human rights lens. Jewelles is a feminist disability activist, scholar, writer, and artist.
A trained research scientist, Pam comes to the MS Society from Alberta Innovates where she spent over a decade and a half leading innovation and change. Her leadership at Alberta Innovates included significantly growing the health research portfolio and strengthening integration of research and health systems to maximize impact for patients and providers. She also led the establishment of a new Alberta Innovates organization that consolidated four corporations across the health, energy, agriculture, and forestry sectors. Pam started her career as a faculty member at the University of Calgary at Hotchkiss Brain Institute and then moved to Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research where she held several leadership roles.
Pam believes strongly in collaboration and building robust relationships – and has had a career of working with various stakeholders including from government, private sector and clinical networks. Collaborating with the board, she will lead a new strategic undertaking that will ensure the MS Society remains a strong national, bilingual organization that delivers exceptional community-based programs focused on enhancing the quality of life of Canadians living with MS.
Hailing from Calgary, Pam is a published researcher and has been awarded the Canadian Psychological Association of Excellence and the Neuroscience Canada Foundation Award. Pam believes in achieving impact in the health domain, a passion she developed as a basic scientist with a strong desire to facilitate the linkage between basic research and clinical care. Pam is motivated and excited by the ability to touch people affected by MS and their families in a more tangible way.
Bill VanGorder is Chief Operating Officer and Chief Policy Officer for C.A.R.P – A New Vision of Aging, and is the Senior Spokesperson and founding Chair for the C.A.R.P. Nova Scotia Chapter.
Bill chaired the Nova Scotia Advisory Committee on Seniors’ Issues to the Provincial Government (The Group of Nine), a committee he has served on for the past 15 years. He also chaired the Serving Seniors Alliance Cooperative and was a long time Board Member of the Theatre Arts Guild.
From 1991 to 2007, Bill was the President and CEO of The Lung Association of Nova Scotia. Before that, he spent 28 years with the YMCA and was the Atlantic Area Director for 12 years.
Bill continues to be an advocate for issues that impact older Canadians and is a speaker on retirement planning.
Bill is a graduate of Sir Wilfred Laurier University with a degree in Politics & Public Administration and is both a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).
Feedback and customer support
We welcome feedback on the accessibility of our products and services. There are a few different ways to get in touch with our support team. We have initiatives in place to improve the accessibility of our support channels in 2019.
Our customer service representatives are available to provide support 7 days a week.
Chat is available:
Monday to Friday, 7 am to 11 pm ET
Saturday and Sunday, 9 am to 9 pm ET
We provide customer support over the phone in both English and French. We also offer a TTY phone number
for use by customers with compatible devices.