To provide Awards to support Students with disabilities and/ or barriers to employment by creating opportunities for skill development and education.
Iris Saunders served as the Executive Director of EmployAbilities, a charitable non-profit organization dedicated to providing employment services to persons with disabilities from 1996-2014. Iris worked diligently to ensure all people that have a physical disability, had a supportive environment to help explore their situations and take career related action to realize their potential both as individuals and active members of today's labor force.
Her extremely broad experience included sitting on local Advisory Councils that are made up of a cross section of community organizations, a member of the Task Team of Working in the Community with the Provencal Council on the Status of People with Disabilities, supplying community based consultation and training workshops on issues related to hiring of individuals with disabilities and was also responsible for the development of two very successful videos promoting increased awareness of people with disabilities in the workplace, and these videos have been successfully distributed throughout the world.
Under Iris's direction, EmployAbilities has grown from a staff of four people with no computers to a staff of about 40, most with disabilities, and well over 100 computers, two credited training programs, a resource center, two training rooms, two computer labs and a virtual resource center. They have also expended to rural Alberta. Iris also established call center which has received an Excellence in Innovation Award. The call center generates significant revenue for the agency, a registered charity.
Iris was involved in numerous volunteer activities including the Edmonton Glenora Rotary Club, the Edmonton Kinnetes Club, Grant MacEwan Community College, Alberta School for the Deaf and served on the Alberta Premiers Council to name a few. Iris was the proud receipt of countless awards and was recognized as the first recipeant of the Lumina Award from the Learning Link. She was also nominated in 2007 as a Member C.M. of the Order of Canada.
Submitted by the Saunders Family