February 10, 2021— Diverse Abilities NS is thrilled to share that Harman Singh, CEO at Breton Ability Centre, is this year’s recipient of the Tom Miller Human Rights Award and was honoured at an awards ceremony held on February 4.
The Tom Miller Human Rights Award honours the contribution the late Tom Miller made to progressive work in the field of human rights. The late Tom Miller (Nova Scotia’s first black Alderman) was a dedicated, principled and tireless advocate who supported the rights of all Canadians, particularly those disadvantaged by discrimination or poverty. The award is presented to an individual of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality who has made a significant contribution to the community with respect to the encouragement, promotion, initiation or development of human rights within their community.
The nomination letter by David Farmer listed many reasons that made Harman worthy of such an honour, including amongst them:
• BAC strives to support individuals with varying abilities reach their full potential and achieve a life that
is meaningful to each individual. Most importantly, Ms. Singh and the organization pride itself with the
implementation of a rights-based model using the UN Charter of Rights for Persons with Disabilities.
• BAC has shifted its model of supporting individuals with varying abilities to a social model of support which promotes creating independence for all individuals. In the last number of years, Ms. Singh has been instrumental with improving the living conditions of residents at BAC converting bedroom areas from wards to double and single rooms with more private rooms on the horizon.
• BAC employs a Low Arousal approach based from the United Kingdom which has translated into an almost zero use of physical restraints to manage complex behaviours, and a reduction behaviour(s) resulting in some of our complex behaviour residents enjoying more inclusive living both in the community and at BAC.
• Under Ms. Singh’s leadership, BAC has established new and innovative programs through its Learning and
Employment Centre and through Behaviour Support programs which promote self-determination for individuals with varying abilities. Many new meaningful employment opportunities have been created for residents at BAC and also for those requiring such supports from the community. In 2019, BAC’s social enterprise, the Best of Cape Breton Gift Shop, was named “Social Enterprise of the year” through the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce. Access to inclusive community living options have also increased to where on average four individuals move each year into a community option or into Long Term Care.
• BAC is working alongside the Department of Community Services with its transformation for persons with disabilities to increase its capacity for community homes for individuals. Since 2016, the organization has added 4 new community homes with a current total of 6 homes in the community for individuals with varying abilities.
• Most recently, with the recent roundabout infrastructure development in Sydney River, Ms. Singh and BAC successfully advocated for the addition of full accessibility with appropriate sidewalks for the area and surrounding businesses.
As David said in his nomination letter, “It is evident that Ms. Singh and the team at BAC has made it a point
to erase the “dis” from disability and focus on one’s true ability.” “And we couldn’t agree more!”, says Joyce
d’Entremont, Chair of DANS. “Congratulations Harman and the entire Breton Ability Centre team!”