NL Association of the Deaf


On October 23, 1946, eleven Deaf people met to form a Deaf club. They named the new club "Caribou Silent Club". Mr. Mason Bishop was elected as President, Mr. Hammond Taylor was the Vice-President, and Mr. Mike Reddy was Secretary/Treasurer.

The first meeting was held on November 6, 1946, at the Bishop's residence. Mr. Reddy resigned as the Secretary/Treasurer, therefore, another change transpired in the nomination of elected officers on the next meeting. Their first motion was that every member pay 20 cents per month for membership dues.

The second meeting took place on November 13, 1946 at the residence of Me. Ronald Stokes. The newly elected officers were as follows: President: Mr. Hammond Taylor, Vice-President: Ms. Mary Fitzpatrick (nee Snow), the first elected woman and Secretary/Treasurer: Mr. Mason Bishop.

The name of the club changed to the St. John's Association of the Deaf on November 8, 1956.

In 1961, one of its founding members, Flora Agnes Clark, Secretary of the St. John's Association of the Deaf became one of the strongest supports for a school in Newfoundland. This was recorded in the meeting minutes in 1961 and again addressed in the "Deaf Heritage in Canada". She recognized the need for a school for Newfoundland's Deaf children who were being crowded out of schools in other provinces. She and the members wrote a letter to the Newfoundland Government to consider establishing its own school in Newfoundland.

For nearly 50 years, most of the Deaf children from Newfoundland & Labrador attended the School for the Deaf in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Due to overcrowding at the Halifax School for the Deaf some children were forced to attend MacKay School for the Deaf in Montreal, Quebec. The first group of 7 children from Newfoundland & Labrador attended the MacKay School for the Deaf in Montreal in 1947.

In 1958, Newfoundland Government decided to withdraw its remaining students from Halifax School for the Deaf and send them to MacKay School for the Deaf in Montreal. There were 62 student from Newfoundland & Labrador attending MacKay School for the Deaf in 1961 at a cost of $1,400 a year per student.

When the Halifax School for the Deaf closed in 1961, its students were transferred to the new Inter-provincial School for the Deaf in Amherst, Nova Scotia, as were Deaf students from Newfoundland & Labrador attending the MacKay School for the Deaf in Quebec.

Flora Agnes Clark and the other members of the St. John's Association of the Deaf preferred that Newfoundland have a residential school of its own rather than continue sending children to school on the mainland.

By June 1964, the Inter-provincial School for the Deaf in Amherst, Nova Scotia became overcrowded and unable to accommodate all children from the four Eastern Provinces. In the same year 100 students from Newfoundland were registered to attend but only 50 could be accommodated. The Newfoundland Government quickly realized establishment of a school for Deaf students was imperative in Newfoundland.

The Newfoundland School for the Deaf was opened in 1964 with an enrollment of 54 students at Fort Pepperell. In 1965, the enrollment reached 130 students with a teaching staff of 23 at the Newfoundland School for the Deaf which was located in Torbay, Newfoundland.

NLAD has achieved many accomplishments over the years which have greatly improved the quality of life for our Deaf community.

In August 1987, the Minister of Social Services under the Provincial Government of Newfoundland & Labrador, cut all funding under the Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (VRDP). NLAD and CDD in consultation with the Provincial Government successfully reinstated VRDP on October 31, 1987.

On January 11, 1988, NLAD received funding through a grant for $43,000 from Human Resources Development Canada. Three employees were hired. The first two Deaf employees were Barbara LeDrew and Arthur Butt as well as a hearing person who assumed the role of a Communication/Liason person. They were involved in public awareness promotions and conducting research within the Deaf community to identify needs. The focus was on trying to set up a group home to meet the needs of Deaf individuals who do not have independent living skills. The finding was exhausted in July 1998. Unfortunately, it was not successful. The Newfoundland Government's philosophy was not supportive of a structured group home system. Also, at this time, the Progressive Conservative Party was defeated by the Liberal Party.

On April 9, 1988, NLAD and CDD were sponsored in partnership for a "Cross-Disability Movement" workshop.

On May 13, 1988, A Deaf comedy play sponsored by NLAD was funded by the Disabled Persons Participation Program (DPPP). "The Greatest Little Sign Show on Earth" was played by A Show of Hands Theatre Production in Toronto, Ontario.

On October 31, 1988, a second grant for $57,000 from HRDC was awarded to NLAD. Employees were rehired to continue research until funds were exhausted in July 1989.

On November 25, 1989, another workshop, "Sexuality Resources for the Deaf" was conducted.

On February 11, 1990, a grant for $10,000 was funded by Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada and Provincial Education to assess and investigate the numbers of Deaf adults across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and participate in a workshop "Literacy Program for the Deaf" which was offered in Edmonton, Alberta.

On March 8, 1990, the name of the Association was changed again to Newfoundland and Labrador Association of the Deaf.

In May 1990, NLAD participated in a workshop entitled"Deaf & Hearing Culture".

In August 1990, NLAD lobbied CRTC in an attempt to provide a Relay Service with the support of the Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD). Our first relay services took place on February 5, 1991. Newfoundland & Labrador was the first province to provide relay services to the Atlantic region.

In January 1992, NLAD opened the Deaf Resource Centre located on 351 Empire Avenue for a one year trial period. The Centre offered ASL evening courses in which 200 students participated. The Centre had to close down due to lack of use during daytime hours and the high rental costs with limited financial resources.

On November 27/28, 1992, another workshop "Accessibility, Awareness, Participation and involvement", funded by the DPPP was set up to promote better understanding of accessibility to services which are available through programs involving communication and networking.

In May 1993, a grant for $153,000 was awarded to NLAD from HRDC to fund the Job Development Program. A job placement coordinator was hired to provide on-site instruction in career exploration and job training. Funds provided enabled five Deaf participants to develop potential employment skills. Program funds were exhausted in April 1994.

In April 1995, NLAD again lobbied CRTC for the provision of closed captioning of the evening local news broadcasts. NLAD's efforts paid off with the first closed captioning appearing on CBC's evening news on February 5, 1996.

In January 1996, a grant for $24,300 under DPPP was realized. A researcher developed and implemented an accredited Interpreter Training Program. The Agenda and Curriculum was completed and delivered to Cabot College (now College of the North Atlantic). Academy Canada implemented the Interpreter Training Program in 1998 - 2003.

As Deaf members, we have acquired a great deal of knowledge and gained valuable experiences through successful workshops.

All programs have been successful. Unfortunately, many of these programs were time restricted and financially limited as per Federal Government guidelines.

Recently, the Federal and Provincial Governments have been eliminating and downsizing programs in order to reduce their deficits. The Job Development Program and DPPP under the Federal Governments are no

longer offered as of March 1996.

The Deaf community must keep searching for an alternate strategy so that NLAD may prosper and flourish. We have witnessed the Provincial Governments slashing of numerous programs in 1996. We must continue out fight for education, training and employment.

With a 20% employment rate in the Province of Newfoundland & Labrador, Deaf people face greater challenges in their day to day struggles in gaining employment.

In closing I would like to thank you for your support of NLAD over the past few years. We will continue to develop and strengthen our association for another 50 years.

                                                                                                          Myles Murphy
                                                                                                                Elks Club

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