Wendy Perkins, Commodore, Wai Nui O Kanaka Outrigger Canoe Club: I’m Wendy Perkins and I’m the Commodore of Wai Nui O Kanaka Outrigger Canoe Club. We’ve been running for three years now on this site and we have programs for people who want adaptive capacity and want to get out on the water and enjoy it as much as we do. And we have a project here that we started with our partners, Charterability, to make this area adaptable and accessible for people. So what that involves is having compounds where we store our boats but more importantly ramps that are wheelchair accessible. We brought an expert out from the States and we found something called the universal seat. And so we can get people with almost any disability into boat. Anybody can paddle, any of them now that we’ve figured it out.

Steve Cullen, President and Founder of Charterability: I broke my neck twenty years ago in a tobogganing accident and created Charterability about seven years ago. Charterability is really about accessible boating, fishing and docking. You know, from children to seniors with mobility challenges originally and for everybody really that’s really what it’s all about. I just recognized that the harbour’s were bustling and people with disability and mobility challenges were really nowhere to be seen and I knew they were out there and I knew they wanted to participate. Today we had a group from Community Living Oakville out on this boat today — it’s free for them. Tomorrow we have four groups going out. We have a nursing home from Beamsville coming out. I really want to remove every, and it’s a tongue twister, remove every conceivable barrier imaginable that’s preventing all groups of people from getting out and enjoying the water.

Shelly Dan, Club Member: Even though I’m in my chair, I’m still normal, I can still do things. But sometimes people seem to forget — you’re in a chair. They make buildings accessible for us, they make stores accessible for us but they forget the silly things like people like to go out on the water. Tonight was amazing, I got to go out in an outrigger. I actually got to use a paddle, and something I wanted to do for years when I had my legs and I never did. And I thought when I lost them I’d never get the opportunity. I did, I did it tonight. It’s amazing and people forget that just because you’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you don’t still want to do these things and tonight was fantastic.