The League, NSLEO
Welcome to the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities
The League is a catalyst in building social, community, and political leadership of persons with disabilities within Nova Scotia. We achieve this at a national level through our national affiliate, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) and through provincial affiliates around the province and across the country.
We envision a future where the abilities of persons with disabilities are fully recognized, developed and living as equals in society.
The League takes a leading role and is a major contributor to many important and valuable community efforts. We are a cross-disability voice of Nova Scotians with disabilities. Our ongoing activities include:
- Provincial Access Awareness
- Disability Student Scholarships
- Provincial Disability Partnership
- Poverty Reduction Strategy
- Women with Disabilities
- Disability Information Sharing Sessions
- Public and Member Disability Education
- Disability Emergency Preparedness
- United Nations Disability Education
- Provincial Disability Tourism Improvements
- Quality of Life Index Research
- Accessible Housing
- Gender Based Violence
- International Day for Persons with Disabilities
NSLEO is an equity and inclusive organization – led by persons with disabilities – that advocates for full inclusion and accessibility, that champions first voice with government and communities, challenges discriminatory policies using a rights-based approach and is a resource to all to promote living, learning and work.
Is a Nova Scotia where all citizens, including those living with a disability or neurodiverse ability, experience full inclusion and realization of their human rights, as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
NSLEO’s values are based on human rights as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Canadian Charter of Rights, and Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Legislation. Our values reflect there should be “Nothing about us without us.”
SERVING THOSE IN NEED
Advocates throughout the province for equitable access to services and changes to policies that create barriers for individuals and families.
Presents a strong and persistent representation, in collaboration with community allies, to challenge
discriminatory policies and practices by all levels of government and across sectors to inclusion and equitable access to live, work, learn and play within the community.
EMBRACING OUR COMMUNITIES
We welcome community members and partners, engage with them, and appreciate that collectively we have a greater impact.
WORKING WITH INTEGRITY
Our communications and actions are always done with honesty and transparency.
EXECUTING THROUGH TEAMWORK
We work across all sectors within Nova Scotia. We place a high priority on collaboration, leveraging best practices for continuous improvement of an already efficient organization.
The League’s members come from both urban and rural parts of Nova Scotia. They share common goals and concerns which are represented through NSLEO at the provincial level. 90% of Board Members are persons with disabilities.
2024 – 2025
Craig Aucoin, Chair
Melissa Myers, Vice-Chair (Past Chair)
Kim Aker, Treasurer, Secretary
Shaun Clark, Director
- Ian Lawless, Director
- Troy Nauffts, Director
- Will Brewer, Director
- Lana Larder , Director
- Sherry Costa-Lorenz, Ex Officio
In 1980, the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (NSLEO) held its inaugural meeting in Halifax but the history of the organization goes beyond the ‘80s. NSLEO dates back to the human rights movement that began in the 1960s and ‘70s.
In those decades, black North Americans were in a struggle to win and have their human rights recognized; women were coming together in a renewed effort to secure liberation, end discrimination and gain recognition of their human rights to equal treatment; and our First Nations peoples were beginning the fight to establish the legitimacy of their Treaty, human, land, language and political rights.
Our Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, was working on his dream to patriate our country’s Constitution, to bring it home to Canada from England and he was developing allies among these large rights groups by offering to include a bill of Rights and Freedoms in the new constitutional document, now known as The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At the same time, Canadians with disabilities were organized principally on a medical model. CCD’s National Coordinator, Laurie Beachell, stated, “We have an organization set up for every disease and ailment; one for every ache and pain.” While at the same time we were starting to establish what we called consumer groups (as consumers of medical services).
One such consumer organization in Winnipeg, Manitoba hired Jim Dirkson fresh out of University. While at the University, Dirkson’s studies included a study of what was happening in the various groups that were fighting to establish their human rights as well as what Trudeau was planning and doing. So when he attended a conference of several Canadian disability organizations, he took the opportunity to speak with them about what was happening. He was able to convince some of them that they needed to adopt an advocacy role to become part of the human rights movement so that people with disabilities would have a seat and a voice at the table.
The Coalition of Provincial Organizations of the Handicapped (COPOH) was formed which Dirkson soon took over and he set out to grow the movement. Dirkson travelled to Sydney, Nova Scotia where he met with representatives of the consumer organization Community Involvement of the Disabled (CID). He brought them together with a group called the Disabled Individuals Alliance (DIAL). A short time later, the Disabled Consumers Society of Colchester (DCSC) in Truro was brought into the discussions followed by the Disabled Unite for Equality of Life in the Valley and (DUEL) and Handicapped Organization Promoting Equality (HOPE) in Yarmouth.
The decision to form the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunity (NSLEO) was made in 1979 and in the summer of 1980, the groups came together and made it official in Halifax at an inaugural convention. Central Highlands Association of the Disabled (CHAD), Richmond County Disabled (RCD) and Clare Organization Representing Persons with Disabilities (CORD) joined NSLEO
In response to a growing awareness by disabled persons in Nova Scotia, the League was organized in 1979 and chartered in March 1980. NSLEO is a cross-disability consumer and public education organization whose members include individuals with all types of disabilities: mobility, sensory and invisible (e.g., diabetes, emphysema, arthritis, epilepsy, etc.).
NSLEO offers municipal consumer groups an umbrella organization through which to represent their concerns at the provincial level. The uniqueness of the League rests in the fact that it consists of organizations and individuals whose control is in the hands of persons with disabilities, first voice.
As a non-profit organization with a charitable tax number, we accept donations and issue tax receipts for amounts over $25.
The League is always ready and prepared to face new challenges and take on new programs in the disability community as these arise. Our future plans include playing a catalyst in building social, political and community leadership within the disability community of our province. We continue with the issues of Poverty as well as the issues surrounding aging in place throughout rural Nova Scotia where the numbers of seniors over 65 is expected to double by the mid 2020s with the increases in disability that will accompany that shift in the age demographic.