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Wednesday, 21 October 2015 11:44

Duzan brings long-time passion to her new position at SaskAbilities in Swift Current

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Kimi Duzan brings years of experience and a passion to serve people living with disabilities to her new position as the regional director of the Saskatchewan Abilities Council in Swift Current.


She has been in the director’s chair since early August. She has been impressed with the community support in the city for the work done by the Saskatchewan Abilities Council.
“I was absolutely thrilled to see the level of community support,” she said. “I was thrilled to be embraced myself and welcomed. That’s what community is all about, seeing every person as what they have to bring to the table.”
The Saskatchewan Abilities Council is marking 50 years of service in Swift Current during 2015.
“I think right across the province the Council has been a leader in services and developing services around our participants needs,” she said. “So that’s been on our plate for a long time and hopefully we’re growing and responding to all customers.”
Duzan noted it is a good time to build on the strengths of the organization as it moves forward.
“We are further challenged in these times to continue to move to that more community-based model and helping individuals pursue those interests,” she said. “I think that it’s a perfect time, both relative to the organization and our wonderful foundation that 50 years brings us, and with the growth potential in the community.”
She referred to the City of Swift Current’s strategic goal to increase the city’s population to 25,000 by 2025.
“I was excited when I heard the City invite the community to think about 25,000 by 2025,” she said.
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“So this is a community that’s forward-thinking and growing and developing their services for all people.”
For Duzan, it is important the activities of the Saskatchewan Abilities Council in Swift Current assist people with disabilities to be active members of the broader community.
“Everybody’s got gifts and talents to bring to the community and I think sometimes people without disabilities may not remember that,” she said. “I see my role as facilitating that. I see our staff’s role as facilitating or serving maybe as a connector of people. Then community members see for themselves what other community members, some who may have disabilities, have to offer.”
The Swift Current branch of the Saskatchewan Abilities Council will continue to operate from its current location on North Railway Street West.
“That serves really as a home base, if you like, for individuals and staff to come and go from, but more and more I think the community is going to see individuals and staff here, there and everywhere,” she said. “They’re volunteering with different groups, with clubs, they’re working with different employers, and they’re participating at the library, exploring the arts. So it’s really going to be less about the office so to speak but more about people integrated into the community.”
She grew up in Moose Jaw and started her career more than 35 years ago in that city at the Valley View Centre. She has gained experience as a frontline worker as well as in management roles.
She worked for 10 years at Maple Creek and District Opportunities, where she was the director of operations. For the past 15 years she lived in Medicine Hat, where she was the manager for vocational services at REDI Enterprises Society.
“My career started out working directly with individuals themselves and people with disabilities and their families, but over time, I’ve realized it’s actually the community that needs more information and education around people with disabilities,” she said. “My role has changed to one of supporting the teams and developing the community. Through developing the community, I mean creating opportunities for individuals to be contributors, to be employees, to be participants in all aspects of community life, and then raising awareness with the communities so they’re open and welcoming and embracing.”
During her career, she has seen a significant change in the approach to provide support to people with disabilities.
“The model used to be that people with disabilities were kept separate and provided for separately from other community members,” she explained. “Certainly there’s the de-institutionalization that has taken place. There’s a movement to people becoming more involved with the community. So it’s more about promoting opportunities — people gather around their interests, not around their disability. So if people have an interest in doing crafts, they join other crafters. If people have an interest in employment, they join others that are seeking employment in that sector rather than being kept separate by nature of their disability.”
As a result the role of staff has also changed. They have become facilitators and connectors between people with disabilities and community members.
“It’s something that the Swift Current branch has well under way, and it’s an area we’ll simply continue to grow and build,” she said.

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