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It is interesting to think back to when we were first imagining this conference—in Ontario, in person, to be held almost six months ago! When news of a possible pandemic was just starting to reach North America, we chose to delay, in the hopes of being able to ride the storm out. We have now settled into a much different way of life, realizing that this shift in how we connect is our new normal. Therefore, rather than offer a one-day event, we have been able to bring a month-long series to our whole disability community across North America.

Over the course of October, we invited five speakers to come together to discuss caregiving. Each one brought a unique perspective to the conversation; but throughout all the conversations, the theme of community was prevalent. Being a caregiver can be a very challenging, tiring journey. It can be extremely rewarding as well. Regardless, the key to being able to sustain yourself as a caregiver is by entering into community.

For five weeks we met on Zoom, sharing conversations, engaging in learning, and offering support to one another through the acts of listening and connecting. 

  • Robin Smart, public education coordinator for Alzheimer Society of Waterloo Wellington, discussed caregiver self-care.

  • Jack VanderVeer, community support pastor with Jubilee Fellowship and chaplain with Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre, spoke to us about ambiguous and complicated grief,

  • Brenda DeJong, a Disability Concerns Canada executive committee member with a long-standing career in the healthcare system, spoke about being a sibling of a sister with disabilities.

  • Marlene Vanrootselaar—mother to eight, grandma to nine, foster parent for 25 years, and manager of a group home for The Anchor Association—spoke about parenting children and adults with disabilities.

  • Mark Stephenson concluded the series with a keynote focused on a spiritual and biblical perspective on caregiving, and then hosted a panel discussion that included all of our series speakers.

We are excited to let you know that even if you were not able to participate in the live Zoom meetings throughout the series, the entire series is available for you to watch! To access all recordings and notes from our sessions, visit our October Caregiver Series website (go to the “details” page on the website to find all recordings and notes from the sessions). You can also watch it by heading over to our Disability Concerns YouTube channel! (YouTube October Caregiver Series playlist)

This series brought us all together with a focus on discussing the many aspects of caregiving. If you are interested in continuing the conversation, please consider joining our Caregiver Book Club. It is just starting! It runs every Tuesday evening in November from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

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