Saturday afternoon Sharon Bak, President of Thunder Bay Family Network (TBFN), met with local OPSEU reps and family members to solidify plans for advocacy and fundraising efforts in the Northwest related to changes in autism services. TBFN can confirm that on April 18th at 4pm a kickoff event will occur at the OPSEU building located at 326 Memorial Avenue in Thunder Bay. They encourage all families affected by these changes to attend. Starting April 23rd, a road show will begin and this group will be holding events in Fort Frances (April 23), Kenora (April 24), and Dryden (April 25) at Minister Rickford’s constituency offices. A wrap up event will held in Thunder Bay on April 26 with times to be announced.


What TBFN needs now is for families to share their stories with them in written form and these will be presented to local MPPs and profiled on TBFN’s website and Facebook page. TBFN will respect privacy if a family does not wish to have their names publicized online. They also need as many families as possible to request meetings with Minister Rickford during this time in all locations. Please share this information with others and spread the message across the Northwest. Fundraising through bake sales will occur at each event with all proceeds going to TBFN and used to continue to support all families who have a loved one with a developmental disability.


TBFN continues to advocate for face to face consultation with families in the Northwest for all matters related to developmental services. Minister MacLeod has not yet responded to their letter requesting information on the plan for remote/rural/First Nations families, which she referenced in her original announcement.


This is a time for action and for all families to raise their voices. TBFN is normally a quiet bunch, but they can no longer sit back and allow decisions to be made without true consultation in the North. TBFN asks for your support in sending a strong, northern message to the government.


Their planned hashtags for this campaign will be #togethertowin (OPSEU), #familiesknowbest, and #truenorthstrong Even if you can’t be with them on these days, they encourage you to engage on social media and show the elected officials that northern families matter. TBFN has a Facebook page and is also on Twitter (@TBFamilyNetwork).


They are grateful for the support of local MPPs (Judith Monteith-Farrell and Michael Gravelle), OPSEU, and the Northern Ontario Autism Alliance. Most of all they are indebted to the many families who have bravely reached out to engage with them, share their stories, and participate in the campaign. This initiative must be led by families and they will support you all the way!!


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