Who We Are

We are a group of parents who have come together as a result of our shared determination to ensure equitable access to education for children who have special needs in the Province of British Columbia. Our connection to each other began through a Facebook group that was started shortly after the end of our Province’s teacher’s strike in 2014. The group now has close to 1000 members, and the stories that are shared on the private board illustrate to us the depth of the challenges families who have children with special needs are facing in public schools.

If you are a parent in British Columbia looking for support, knowledge and information regarding special education in our Province, please email equitableaccesstoeducation@gmail.com and request an invitation to our online support group. To learn more about why the BC Parents Of Special Needs Kids – Action for Equitable Access to Education group exists, please visit this post: Why This Page

We have decided it is time for our voices to be heard. It is time to bring forward the stories of families in our communities who are facing numerous obstacles trying to access education for their children. We are standing up and speaking out for equitable access to public education for ALL students in British Columbia.


Cathie Camley is the parent of three adult children, two of whom have learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. She is the past director of the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of Canada, the Learning Disabilities Association of British Columbia, and the Federation for Invisible Disabilities. Cathie chaired both the National and Provincial Education Committees for the LDA. She authored the Know Your Rights Publications for Parents and Students – a project sponsored by the BC Law Foundation of BC. She has served as an advocate for families who have a child with special needs for over twenty years and was awarded the Queen’s golden Jubilee Medal for her volunteer contributions in the field of special education.


Tracy Humphreys is a parent of three children with special needs. She has been on her local PACs, the District PAC in Victoria (VCPAC), and has been the BCCPAC representative for VCPAC. She currently works as a consultant CEO and as a full time volunteer advocate for special needs children in schools in BC.





Dione Costanzo is a mother of two and was instrumental in founding the Autism Support Network. Her youngest son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. By day, Dione is a List and Data Management Specialist. She is most passionate about ensuring every family and individual has access to science-based autism treatment. Dione is active in her PAC and the ABA Advisory in Surrey where she is continually supporting other families.


Andrea Kennedy resides in Port Moody, BC and volunteers her time in various capacities related to school, sports, advocacy, and supporting other parents in their journey, including coordinating the Autism Navigators BC Facebook page.  Andrea is mom to two wonderful elementary school students who have special needs (Autism, Learning Disability, Gifted).  Andrea is passionate about Human Rights in both her personal and professional pursuits.  She is a negotiator and consultation specialist and Senior Partner with Bridgeway Consulting Inc.

Karen head-shouldersKaren Nordquist is a determined advocate who has independently researched and accessed Education, Special Education, the School Act, the Complaints Process and Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. She is familiar with external regulatory bodies, including the BC Teacher Regulation Branch, and the Office of the Ombudsperson. Karen has built bridges and made progress through fierce determination, love for her children, and an unwavering goal of making things better for all children in public education. Karen currently sits on the Inclusive Education committee for BCCPAC, and has recently put forward two resolutions regarding training and competency of Special Education Assistants in our province.

cathyCathy McMillan is one of the Founding Members for  Dyslexia BC (formerly Decoding Dyslexia BC) and the parent of two children diagnosed with dyslexia.  After her second child was diagnosed with dyslexia, she realized that her learning profile was most likely dyslexic.  Dyslexia BC is a grassroots movement, consisting of parents of children who are dyslexic.  They are concerned with advocating for services for dyslexic children, which include early identification and accommodations and effective remediation for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.  Cathy is a tireless advocate for her own children and has helped many other parents and children with information to help them advocate and obtain resources.  She has hosted several public information events which included the award winning “The Big Picture – Rethinking Dyslexia” by James Redford. Cathy advises, “focus on your strengths, acknowledge your weaknesses and connect with other people with learning disabilities so that you realize that you are not alone”. Click here to hear an interview Cathy recently did about Decoding Dyslexia BC.


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9 thoughts on “Who We Are

  1. Our story is so much like yours. We also had difficulty getting our oldest tested for gifted. Our elementary school was reluctant and essentially refused. They focussed on the kids that did well with rote math basics and spelling. Totally missing some of the truly bright kids.
    Shortly after transitioning to middle school, I inquired about testing.mthey were in disbelief that she hadn’t already been tested. Within 2 weeks Testing was done and she had been invited to participate in the gifted program. She didn’t reach the percentile for official designation and an IEP, but close enough that she got to attend the planned enrichment activities.
    Another example of inadequate access to services


    1. Thank you for sharing your story Shelagh. So many children like yours fall though the cracks…and those cracks just seem to get bigger with more and more children falling through them.


  2. I’m so proud of this dedicated group of women. Reading your accomplishments is impressive. It takes a lot of time and energy to do all that you do and have done, and I appreciate you all so much!


    1. if you send us an email (equitableaccesstoeducation@gmail.com) and include a very brief description of why you are interested in joining, we will then send you an email invitation to the private group 🙂 ~Karen


  3. I am very impressed by your group. I have 3 children and 2 have special needs with what I call invisible disabilities . An adult son with FASD and an 9 year old who is intellectually gift but struggles with sensory integration. …developmental coordination disorder and severe anxiety. I have been a special needs ed assistant for almost 30 years and have tried yo keep my faith in public education..we too are being pushed out…and hard. We are requesting an investigation by Alberta Ed sadly into the school my don attends and i used to work at. Now with our Alberta provincial budget cutting more and freezing school board access to our educational reserves things are getting worse. I wonder do you know of a comparable organization you connect with here in Alberta?


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