Fall 2018

A Message from the Chair

Fall is a busy time for all of us, and especially for families settling into school and work routines. The same is true for our LDA network across the country. Families living with LD need our help and support more than ever as the beginning of the school year can be extra stressful. Kudos to our wonderful professionals who work extra hard at this time of year to help people with LD transition into new school and work routines. At the national office, we are working on lots of exciting projects to support the work of our LDA network. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to support our LD community. We would love to hear your ideas! 

Thealzel Lee

Chair, Learning Disabilities Association of Canada

A Message from the Executive Director

Fall is in the air and with it marks a new school year with new possibilities and at LDAC, after taking a few weeks of a very well deserved break, activities are resuming on the various LDAC committees and projects. We are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves.

LDAC Annual General Meeting

On June 21, 2018 LDAC held its Annual General Meeting, and I would like to extend a warm welcome to the following individuals elected to the LDAC board of directors for 2018/2019:

Continuing Provincial/Territorial Representatives:

  • British Columbia: Brendan O’Neill
  • Alberta: Lorrie Goegan
  • Saskatchewan: Debra Kemp-Koo
  • New Brunswick: Rhonda Rubin

New Provincial/Territorial Representative:

  • Jean Luc Séguin, QC

Director at Large:

  • Thealzel Lee – Chair

We currently have vacancies on the national board for a person from YK, MB, and ON. I would like to remind everyone that a person can be nominated by the P/T LDA anytime, not just at the Annual General Meeting.

We also bid farewell to Bob Cram from Saskatchewan. Your invaluable contributions and expertise will be truly missed. However, lucky for us, Bob has agreed to continue as Chair of the LDAC Communications Committee.

October is LD Awareness Month. LDAC would like to extend a sincere thank you to Lawrence Barns, CEO at LDA Ontario, for providing the LDA network access to Ontario’s LD Month Campaign materials ‘Don’t DIS my ABILITIES! in both English and French. A huge thank you goes to Shannon Malloch-Strojny for designing the materials and making them user friendly.

Watch out for the materials to be used across the country this October.

Claudette Larocque

Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Association of Canada

Email: info@ldac-acta.ca

The Canadian Partnership for Child Health and the Environment (CPCHE)

LDAC is a founding member of CPHCE.

CPCHE and other organizations have organized a public forum in Ottawa in August on toxic chemicals and health. Claudette Larocque represented LDAC.   

Dr. Lanphear showed the video “Little Things matter: The Impact of Toxins on the Developing Brain”. It has been noted that LDAC parents and professionals should take the lead in demanding prevention of neurodevelopmental disorders – e.g. with action on chemicals that are neurotoxicants, and affordable access to better nutrition.

Another video from the Little Things Matter series is:  The Deadly Impact of Airborne Particles

The review of Canada’s Environmental Protection Act 1999 has been delayed by the government until after the next federal election in 2020. On behalf of LDAC, Barbara McElgunn has written to Minister McKenna supporting her proposal to undertake some important changes that don’t require legislative amendments to CEPA. For example, regulations for persistence and bioaccumulation could be updated and strengthened in-house to be in line with more protective criteria as in other countries, and also more attention could be given to vulnerable populations (pregnant women (the fetus), children and the developing brain). 

Wireless radiation

A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives called Mobile phone radiation may affect memory performance in adolescents, has reported radio frequency electromagnetic fields may have adverse effects on the development of memory performance of specific brain regions exposed during mobile phone use.  This study of 700 adolescent boys in Switzerland adds to the evidence of biological effects of EMF radiation, and concern about 5G installations across cities and the country to accommodate the increased use in wireless home appliances, driverless cars, virtual games, etc.

Barbara McElgunn RN Health Policy Advisor LDAC

Committee Reports

Research Committee

Research Committee Submission (from Kim McLean, instructional coach at Calgary Academy and member of LDAC Research Committee)

In March 2018 the Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that said businesses should invest now in skills development and lifelong learning to ensure their workers will have the tools to face the coming disruptions from Artificial Intelligence, advanced robotics and automation. Jobs today require essential skills, like literacy and numeracy, communication, problem-solving, teamwork and interpersonal skills. These are the exact skills that students with learning disabilities struggle with. So how are we preparing students with learning disabilities for the future? According to PACFOLD (2007) adults with learning disabilities are already under-employed. How will our students fare when there are increased demands on not only reading and math but for collaboration, problem solving and being a self directed learner. Are our students being included when schools use problem based learning, work engagement projects and robotics programs or are these opportunities only available for non special education students?

This report puts a renewed importance and urgency on teaching literacy, numeracy and executive functioning skills. Perhaps it is time that we reframed how we view students with learning disabilities; by not just focusing on deficits that have to be fixed to help them through school but as students with unique strengths who need to be overtly taught the skills and attributes needed to be successful in a rapidly changing world. 

Putting a Canadian Face on Learning Disabilities (PACFOLD) March 2007. Learning Disabilities Association of Canada

10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins (February 2018),

Skills for an Automated Future (March 2018). Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Communications Committee

The Communications Committee has not met over the summer, but it has continued to work to put together the quarterly newsletters and to facilitate the collaboration with LDAO to bring their LD Awareness month materials to the national LD network, as discussed in the Executive Director’s Report.

Provincial/Territorial Updates


Learning Disabilities Institute

International Annual Conference

March 27-29, 2019, Montreal, Quebec

Theme: Succeeding in a word of differences!

The conference program focuses on the assessment of learning and related disabilities, intervention approaches, and related themes. Over 1500 delegates are expected to attend.

Visit our website at www.institutta.com/congres/congres-2019


All year long, the Learning Disabilities Institute offers workshops and lectures on different topics. These are intended for a broad range of participants: parents, teachers, resource teachers, etc. Take a minute to subscribe for free to our monthly newsletter and stay up to date. Visit our website at www.institutta.com/ateliers-de-formation

To suscribe to our newsletter: www.institutta.com/institut-ta/bulletindelinstitut

Prince Edward Island

LDAPEI has had a great Summer using some donations/grants to help subsidize tutoring for students from low income families. Over 70 students benefited from being tutored by B.Ed qualified tutors in Reading, Spelling, Math and cursive writing. A primary funding source for this was Canada Post Community Foundation, and I hope other LDA’s are able to submit successful applications.

As a part of Learning Disabilities Awareness month we are looking forward to a social event on October 10th hosted by Her Honour the Honourable Antoinette Perry, Lieutenant Governor of PEI. This event will bring together those living with LD and those offering support either educationally or at Government level in an informal setting. We will also be acknowledging the LDAPEI Educator of the Year 2018, Erin Peterson, at this time.

LDA PEI would like to add a formal thank you to Andre Deschenes, Executive Director at LDA New Brunswick, for all his hard work and support both in New Brunswick, PEI but also across Canada. Enjoy your retirement!

Martin Dutton, Executive Director


LDAA Welcomes a New Executive Director

September is a month of transition for LDAA. After almost five years, Ellie Shuster will retire from her role as Executive Director of LDAA and into her sculpture studio as a full-time artist. LDAA wishes her success in this new phase of her career and is pleased to welcome Toby Rabinovitz as the incoming ED.

Toby has worked as an independent consultant in Ottawa, Calgary and now Edmonton. She brings a breadth of experience in the nonprofit and public sectors in Alberta and across Canada, with a specialization in nonprofit management, planning and facilitation. Toby recently stepped down as the Executive Director for Compass Centre for Sexual Wellness and is very excited to join the Learning Disabilities Association in September. 

Volunteerism is integral to her professional and private life, and she has served on the Board of Directors for various local and provincial nonprofit organizations. Toby was recently elected to the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (ECVO) Board.

Events, Conferences and Other News

Bob’s Bike Ride across the country continues with the goal of raising awareness about learning disabilities and funds for LDA Manitoba. You can follow Bob’s ride at his blog: https://www.bobsbikeride.ca/blog/.

The Council for Learning Disabilities Annual Conference, October 11-12, 2018, Portland, Oregon, https://council-for-learning-disabilities.org/2018-annual-conference.

International Dyslexia Association Annual Conference, October 24-27, 2018, Mashantucket, Connecticut: https://dyslexiaida.org/conference/.

Learning Disabilities Association of America Annual Conference, February 18-21, 2019, Fort Worth, Texas: https://ldaamerica.org/events/annual-conference/

Annual International Conference, Institut des troubles d’apprentissage/Learning Disabilities Institute, March 27-29, 2019, Montreal, QC, www.institutta.com/congres/congres-2019

PBS and Reading Rockets have launched a new television series on how children learn to read. The series can also be viewed online. More information can be found here: http://www.readingrockets.org/launching#overview.

A fascinating article in Wired magazine by Lisa Wood Shapiro who writes about how she has been able to have a successful career as a writer, even though she is dyslexic, thanks largely to new technologies: https://www.wired.com/story/how-technology-helped-me-cheat-dyslexia/.