Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient 'humbled'
Bob Vansickle continues quest to create inclusive workplaces
Wednesday June 27, 2012 -- Natalie Hamilton
Bob Vansickle isn't finished changing the world.
The recipient of a Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal hopes the honour bestowed on him helps more people who have a disability secure meaningful work.
Vansickle, Community Living Sarnia-Lambton supervisor of community employment options, was surprised and "humbled" to be recognized for his contribution towards creating inclusive workplaces in Ontario.
He received the medal, which pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II's 60-year reign, June 18 during a Diamond Jubilee Gala ceremony at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.
"I really feel humbled by the entire experience," Vansickle tells Community Living Leaders.
"I definitely didn't see it coming."
Vansickle is a tireless advocate for creating inclusive workplaces. In recent years, he has worked alongside Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley to create a mayoral challenge, encouraging all municipalities in Ontario to hire people who have a disability.
Gordon Kyle, Community Living Ontario's director of social policy and government relations, recently told Community Living Leaders Vansickle has devoted many years of his time to this "important issue" and has helped develop strategies to overcome some of the barriers to employment.
"This recognition is well-deserved," Kyle says.
Vansickle hopes the medal brings more recognition to the fact people who an intellectual disability are capable of being employed in real jobs for real pay.
"I would like people to realize that workplace inclusion and being paid competitive wages should be a basic civil right," Vansickle says.
"Although on one hand I was honoured to receive the award, on the other hand it made me realize that we have so much work to do to continue to change attitudes. Everyone must buy into the concept that people with an intellectual disability are capable of being good employees and adding value to the workplace."
Vansickle will continue to advocate towards making that happen.
"The award did ignite an even stronger passion inside me to continue to work to ensure that everyone who wants to work has the opportunity to do so."
Other allies in the movement to create an inclusive workforce — Ontario Disability Employment Network executive director Joe Dale, Community Living London employment services supervisor Cheryl Massa, Tim Hortons franchisee Valarie Wafer and Cohen Higley LLP partner Joe Hoffer — also received medals.
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