#FeatureFriday Archive

Each Friday we highlight a consumer, staff member, or board member so you can get to know the #FacesOfILNS. Here you can view previously highlighted consumers, staff, and board members:

photo is a black and white picture of Simon smiling at the camera, while wearing a hoodie and a jacket.
photo shows Simon giving the peace sign with his hand while DJing at an outdoor event. He is wearing an orange t-shirt with a black and blue that says “DJ ACE”, and he has his DJ equipment on a table in front of him.
photo is of Simon standing outside talking into a microphone, he is at a booth with his DJ equipment in front of him. Simon is wearing a winter hat and jacket.

Simon MacFadyen (DJ ACE)

Get to know this week’s #FeatureFriday Simon MacFadyen, better known as DJ ACE. Simon completed ILNS’ ACEE program in 2012-13 where he was able to begin his DJing career. DJ ACE has performed at many ILNS events such as the Christmas Gala, Dance-a-thon, and has also been a vendor at our Art of Disability Festival. Meet Simon:

Q: What are some things everyone should know about you?

A: I have been DJing for 8 years and specialize working with people with disabilities. I have a passion for trains, sports, and politics. Hockey and baseball are my favourite, with the Boston Red Socks being my favourite team. 

Q: What’s your favourite part about ILNS/program/service/etc.?

A: The different variety of programs and events ILNS offers is awesome. I love the social interaction from events like the Christmas Gala and Dance-a-thon. My favourite event is the Christmas Gala. 

Q: How has your involvement with ILNS programs/services helped you to be more independent?

A: Completing ILNS’ pre-employment ACEE program allowed me to learn employability skills and start my business as a DJ. Having the opportunity to DJ at the Christmas Gala and other ILNS events has helped me promote my business and gain confidence in socializing. 

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: If you have a dream, never give up on it. Stay focused on your dream and it will come true. Never say never. 

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself?

A: It would be a dream of mine if I could get a job working on trains. One day I wish I could be a candidate in an election. 

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I am looking forward to DJing at this year’s Christmas Gala. To book me for events visit https://www.djace.ca/ 


Picture of Jen wearing a white skirt and blue tank top with her guide dog Forrest on her left at the beach, the ocean can be seen behind them.
photo shows Jen (left) and her husband Adam (right) with Jen’s guide dog Lennie and a friend’s dog Rama. Both are kneeling down to be closer to the dogs and smiling at the camera. Jen is wearing a yellow t-shirt and white skirt, while Adam is wearing a red t-shirt and black shorts.
photo shows Jen (far left) with her classmates, Lacey, Mandy, and Amy, and their guide dogs in front of the Morris Frank statue.

Jennifer MacNeil-Noble

Jennifer worked for ILNS from 2014-2016 as a Program Manager and a Career Specialist, she now sits on our Board of Directors. Get to know a bit about Jennifer through our quick Q&A:

Q: What’s one thing everyone should know about you?

A: I have a strong passion for helping others, and enjoy opportunities to give back to the disability community as many folks have given to me.

Q: What’s your favorite part about being involved with ILNS?

A: I really enjoy the opportunity to be a part of an organization who puts the voices of their consumers front and center. 

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: Many people will try to box you in or tell you they know what’s best for you. It is important to listen to what they are saying, but remember you are the expert in your own life, and at the end of the day, you need to make the best decisions and take the actions that are going to help you best.

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself?

A: Someday I would like to return to school to get my Master’s in Counselling and open a private practice specifically to serve persons with disabilities. I would like to be able to offer a rate that would be affordable for everyone, as I understand that therapy is very expensive, and many folks with disabilities are on fixed incomes. 

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: When I am not working at CNIB or sitting on the ILNS board, I enjoy singing, and love spending time with my new guide dog Forrest, and my retired guide dog Lennie.


photograph is a headshot of Pierre wearing a striped blue button-up shirt.
photo shows the following Spencer House group: Allison standing up beside a Yamaha keyboard, Don who is sitting behind the keyboard, Lance standing to the right of the keyboard and also holding up his nametag, and finally, ILNS staff member Pierre who is standing beside Lance.
photo shows ILNS staff with Pierre sitting in the front, wearing purple for International Epilepsy Awareness Day.

Pierre Gascon

Pierre joined the ILNS team in 2020 and works as a Job Developer for our youth transition to employment programming. Get to know Pierre:

Q: What does your role entail?

A: As the Job Developer here at ILNS, I focus on creating connections with employers and companies within the HRM to provide work placements for all participants. I also provide hands-on job coaching support to ensure each participant has the essential skills needed to excel in the workforce. 

Q: What's one thing everyone should know about you?

A: I really enjoy learning new things. In my previous profession, I was in a totally different environment/career. Working at ILNS has broadened my experience and shown me that I can adapt/learn what I previously would not have thought possible.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about working for ILNS?

A: I get to see firsthand what I teach to make a difference in someone's life. I love seeing our participants show progress toward the goals they have set for themselves. I find it very rewarding, it is a huge incentive to want to get up in the morning.

Q: What's one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: Actually showing up (and being on time) is 80% of the job.

Q: What's one future goal you have for yourself?

A: I am seeing retirement coming in a few years. I would like to learn how to be a carpenter and volunteer some of my time to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and others who need these services.


Headshot of Andrew smiling while wearing black glasses and a white shirt with a blue and black checkered pattern.
Photo of Andrew wearing a red wetsuit while laying on a blue surfboard on the beach. He is surrounded by surfing instructors wearing blue shirts over black wetsuits.
Photo of Andrew in his electric wheelchair holding a cup of coffee while sitting in front of a black van. Andrew is wearing a blue ball cap, red zip up sweater, and has a white blanket over his legs.

Andrew Jantzen

Andrew is currently a part of our Self Managed Care Program. Meet Andrew: 

Q: What’s one thing everyone should know about you?

A: I love to go for walks to wander and explore, especially where there are trees and plants. (Also, you should know that it is fine to say “walk” even though I use a power wheelchair.) 

Q: What is the most beneficial part of accessing ILNS services?

A: The most beneficial is having the support to manage the self managed care program where I hire my own workers to assist me with day-to-day tasks. Without ILNS helping me with payroll and HR, I would definitely struggle to maintain the program and have a life at the same time. 

Q: How has your involvement with ILNS helped you be more independent?

A: Their support has taken a lot of complicated aspects of managing my workers off my plate. This has made it possible for me to make use of a government program where I get to determine my own schedule and choose my own workers instead of having my life revolve around a structured homecare system. Because of this, I am able to work and volunteer, not to mention, it has given me better mental and physical health which has allowed me to do these things.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: Believe in yourself, even when the medical system tells you otherwise. I went over a decade with unexplained and undiagnosed symptoms that doctors called psychosomatic. I knew that something was physically wrong, but almost gave up because of the medical system. You know your body best! Trust that.

Q: What is one future goal you have for yourself

A: To surprise myself. After going from an active person working full-time to dealing with ongoing severe pain and nausea, getting through the day often takes precedence over future goals. This year, I figured out how to take care of an animal independently and was offered a truly amazing job in accessibility. Who knows where I will be this time next year.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: The people at ILNS are wonderful and helpful. I feel like they have a good understanding of what living with a disability can be like, both the challenges and the joys, and this has made it easier to access support.


Photo of Emma standing outside, wearing a blue sweater and a black bookbag.
Photo of Emma standing with her left hand on her hip during a CAP cooking session. Emma is wearing a pink tshirt with “Dancing Queen” across the chest and silver rectangular glasses. In the background are grey cupboards and a window behind her.
Photo of Emma at the bowling alley, she is standing with both arms stretched out and smiling.

Emma Salah

Emma is currently participating in our Community Access Program (CAP). We sat down with Emma for a quick Q&A session: 

Q: What’s one thing everyone should know about you?

A: I love to have fun! I enjoy dancing, playing basketball, singing, and I love the beach- it's so beautiful there.

Q: What’s your favorite part about participating in the Community Access Program (CAP)?

A: I like being able to learn new things in class each day, I find that very fun. I enjoy the activities we get to do on Thursday afternoons, my favourite activity was going to the museum of the Atlantic. I'm also excited to continue my community volunteer placement. 

Q: How has your involvement in CAP helped you to be more independent?

A: I have learned many new skills that help me be more independent like cleaning, cooking, and taking the bus around Halifax! I really enjoy the CAP program. I'm happy to be involved in such a fun program.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: For everyone to participate and be in the CAP program to become more independent. 

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself?

A: To get a job!


Close up photo of Meaghan smiling, wearing a white long sleeve shirt.
Photo of Meaghan (right) standing next to ILNS’ Tina Gascon (left) who is sitting in a chair at the Art of Disability Festival. Meaghan and Tina are both wearing blue tshirts with the ILNS logo on the front.
Photo of Meaghan (right) standing with her friend (left), both smiling and wearing black graduation gowns. Meaghan is wearing a gold sash over her gown and her friend has a red and gold sash on. They are standing on a boardwalk surrounded by trees.

Meaghan Ernst 

Meaghan is the Peer Support Coordinator here at ILNS. Get to know Meaghan:

Q: How long have you been with ILNS?

A: I began working with ILNS in June of 2021 as a summer student and became a full time employee in May of 2022. I started volunteering with ILNS in 2016 through their Art of Disability Festival. 

Q: What does your role entail?

A: I am the Peer Support Coordinator here at ILNS. Within my role I help plan and run various peer support activities such as the Art of Disability Festival and Fresh Eats food support campaigns. I help apply for funding and grants which allows us to provide different peer support activities. I also develop social media and other web content for our consumers. 

Q: What are a few things everyone should know about you?

A: I recently completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry. I used to play volleyball competitively for eight years and have stayed active in the volleyball community through coaching. I enjoy traveling and experiencing various cultures around the world. 

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: Everything happens for a reason. Learn from the challenges you are faced with and use them as an opportunity for growth. Not everything will make sense in the moment but keep pushing and stay focused on your goals. 

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself?

A: I want to go back to school to get my Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. 

Q: What do you enjoy the most about working for ILNS?

A: I love seeing the impact we make in people’s lives through peer support activities. Hearing back from those who participate in our activities makes all the hard work worthwhile. 


Close up photo of Andrew wearing a navy turtleneck and black rectangle glasses.
Photo of Andrew (left) next to CBC broadcaster Julie Nesrallah (right). Andrew is wearing a red long sleeve shirt with a white and balck stripe across the chest while holding a rose in his hands. Julie is wearing a red flowered blouse and has her right arm around Andrew.

Andrew Taylor

Andrew sits on the ILNS Board of Directors and has several years experience helping businesses and nonprofits ensure their spaces are open and inviting to people of all abilities. Get to know Andrew:

Q: How long have you been involved with ILNS? 

A: I joined the Board of Directors in 2019 right before COVID-19 threw us off track.  

Q: What's one thing everyone should know about you? 

A: "Andrew, how do you take your coffee? Seriously, very seriously"

Q: What’s your favorite part about being involved with ILNS? 

A: My favourite part is being able to work with an exceptional Board of Directors who share the same passion of wanting to make Nova Scotia an inclusive and accessible place to live, work and play as much as I do.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience? 

A: Do whatever it takes to survive a Halifax winter even if that means staying inside and waiting for spring to come.

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself?

A: I’d like to compete in the Bluenose Marathon next year.


Close up selfie of Emily. She is wearing black and navy glasses, a maroon tank top and a silver necklace.
Photo of Emily at the 2022 Art of Disability Festival. She is standing behind her table, smiling with her candles displayed in front of her. A group of blue balloons are to the right of her table.
Photo of Emily sitting in a chair, smiling and leaning to her right side. She is wearing black pants, a yellow flowered shirt, a white cardigan, and sunglasses.

Emily Shay

Emily is completing our RISE youth transition to employment program. Meet Emily: 

Q: What’s one thing everyone should know about you? 

A: I’m a very positive person, and I have a million-dollar smile. 

Q: What’s your favourite part about the RISE Program?

A: I enjoyed the activities and getting the chance to act out skits in class to practice different skills. I also enjoyed it when we would have guest speakers in class because the topics they presented were interesting.

Q: How has your involvement with ILNS helped you become more independent?  

A: Being involved in the RISE program has helped me adapt to new situations and become more comfortable adapting to changes through activities and projects. New situations like having to get up early every day at a decent time and go to work and be your best self. I’m proud of myself for accomplishing this skill. 

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience? 

A: Be yourself! Surround yourself with people who will build you up and be there for you. 

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself? 

A: I started making candles during the pandemic, and I recently participated in the ILNS Art of Disability Festival this past August. My future goal is to be in more art festivals to share my creative candle-making passion with others. 


Picture of Tiffany standing outside. She is wearing a red, yellow, and green flowered shirt with a black crossbody purse, her hair is down and she is smiling.
Picture of Tiffany (center) standing with fellow Katimavik volunteers, Jez (left) and Flo (right), at the Art of Disability Festival. They are all wearing a blue t-shirt with the ILNS logo on the front.

Tiffany Kotroczo

Tiffany joined us from the Katimavik Program and completed a volunteer placement with us until the middle of September. Meet Tiffany: 

Q: What are a few things everyone should know about you?

A: A few facts about me are that I can speak Hungarian, I figure skate (non-competitively), I love traveling, and I have a Bachelor's degree in psychology. 

Q: What is your favourite part volunteering with ILNS? 

A: My favourite part about volunteering at ILNS is working with a non-profit organization that aims to improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities as well as help them to thrive. I have always wanted to work with youth who have disabilities so I am very thankful for this wonderful and meaningful opportunity.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: Never be afraid of saying "I don't know" to something. It shows that you're honest and that it's okay to not know all the answers. We are all human and make mistakes sometimes! 

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself?

A: I want to attend graduate school to study clinical psychology in the near future.

Thanks for all of your help and hard work Tiffany.


Image of Kayla standing at a river side with her hands by her sides and smiling. She is wearing a pink and blue striped dress with sunglasses on top of her head.
A selfie of Kayla (right) and RISE participant Chelsea (left) both smiling. Kayla is wearing a red polka dot dress with blue sunglasses and Chelsea is wearing a white shirt and blue pants.
Image of Kayla (right) smiling and laughing with her partner Jake (left) while leaning against a red vehicle.

Kayla Cavanaugh  

Kayla works as the Program Manager here at ILNS. Meet Kayla:

Q: How long have you been with ILNS?

A: I joined the ILNS team in March 2022. Previously, I have nine years of experience working with the disability community and vulnerable populations through other social services 

Q: What does your role entail?

A: I am the Program Manager for ILNS’ youth transition to employment program, RISE. I also assist with other ILNS programs and services, including our pre-employment Community Access Program (CAP). Within my role, I support participants to establish SMART goals, work towards accomplishing them, and support them as they transition to the workforce. I also provide overall program management, so we deliver any program effectively, including supporting staff in different capacities, completing reports, and other items that come up.

Q: What’s one thing everyone should know about you?

A: I love to travel! With the pandemic, that has been put on hold but I am super excited to start traveling again 🙂

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”  - keep that in mind when going through a tough time; the storm doesn't last forever, the sun will rise, and we will try again. 

Q: What’s a future goal you have for yourself?

A: To go skydiving and bungee jumping.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about working for ILNS?

A: I love the interaction and different opportunities I have been given within my short time so far here. I also enjoy working with participants and seeing them succeed! Everyone here at ILNS has been so great! Working at ILNS as the Program Manager has been rewarding, and I enjoy what I do. I would highly recommend any of our programs and services


headshot of Neil smiling and wearing a grey hoodie in front of the University of Toronto on a sunny day.
Neil in a white lab coat next to a microscope in a lab at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Neil Merovitch

Neil has been involved with ILNS since 2007 and is currently part of our Student Self-Management Attendant Services Program.

Q: What are a few things everyone should know about you?

A: I have been involved with Independent Living Nova Scotia since 2007. Recently, I became part of the Centre for Independent Living Toronto’s Disability Equity + Access Steering Committee. Outside of Independent Living, I work on Disability Justice and EDI within the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children. For fun, I like visiting museums and being by the water. However, being currently in Toronto, I miss the smell of the ocean.

Q: What’s your favourite part about ILNS?

A: I really enjoy how supportive everyone at ILNS is and the sense of belonging they provide through programs and services. 

Q: How has your involvement with ILNS helped you to be more independent?

A: ILNS has provided me with the resources and support to study independently through the Student Self-Management Attendant Services Program. This has enabled me to complete my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Dalhousie University and pursue my PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Toronto.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: Don’t believe someone if they tell you that something is impossible or cannot be done. There is always a way, even if it is not obvious to others.

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself?

A: To find a career where I can continue to give back and help others going through similar experiences to myself.


Photo of Nancy (middle) standing with two of her children, Patrick (right) and Victoria (left). Victoria is wearing a long pink skirt with a white tank top and glasses, Nancy is wearing a navy and white dress with a navy cardigan, and Patrick is dressed in a black sweater and navy pants.
Photo of Nancy (left) standing while hugging her son Ben (right) while he sits at the table and eats pizza. Nancy has her right arm around Ben while holding a bag in her left hand.
Photo of Nancy (middle) sitting on a rock wall between two friends, each of them holding a bouquet of flowers.

Nancy Walker

Nancy has been involved with our Board of Directors and also managed the Adolescent/Young Adult Autism Summer Camp here at ILNS. Get to know more about Nancy:

Q: How long have you been involved with ILNS?

A: Initially when I came to ILNS it was because the organization had agreed to run the Adolescent/Young Adult Autism Summer Program. I then decided to join the board and I have been involved for almost 6 years now.

Q: What’s your favorite part about being involved with ILNS?

A: ILNS has programs and supports for a very diverse population. I am pleased that the organization is able to "think outside the box" to come up with ideas and programs to engage many individuals. I very much enjoy all the people I have met and worked with during my involvement with ILNS. I think the organization is very fortunate to have such an articulate, hard-working and compassionate group under their wing.

Q: What’s one thing everyone should know about you?

A: I have been a very strong advocate in the autism community for about 30 years. I also have a background working in the area of physical challenges and injuries as a physiotherapist.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: Never give up on fighting and advocating for what you believe in, and find individuals and groups that will help support you. 

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself?

A: To be able to enjoy my retirement!


picture of Ryan holding a silver metal with a red and yellow ribbon in his right hand while wearing a white and blue team NS hat and blue zip-up sweater.
photo shows Ryan playing wheelchair basketball. He is wearing a dark grey sleeveless shirt with black and red shorts. He is holding a basketball in his right hand
Ryan (left) is accompanied by his friend Rick (right). Ryan is wearing burgundy pants, a blue jacket, and black gloves and shoes. Rick is wearing a black jacket with black pants and shoes while giving the thumbs up

Ryan Shay

Ryan worked as one of the Festival Coordinators for this year’s Art of Disability Festival. Get to know a little bit about Ryan: 

Q: What’s one thing everyone should know about you?

A: I love to learn! Living with a physical injury gave me the opportunity to focus more on my mental state and level of intellect. Because of this, I have grown to have a great appreciation for attaining knowledge in any capacity. Part of this means keeping an open mind and I don't judge a book by its cover. Subjects I enjoy the most include ancient history & archeology, the study of antiquity, astrophysics, and philosophy. Though I have no formal education in any of the fields I try to dedicate allocated time to learn about and research these things.

Q: What has been your favourite part of working as a Festival Coordinator at ILNS this summer?

A: I had a really fun time at the Festival! Getting to know artists and hearing their individual stories was very interesting. I come from an athletic background and found it difficult to appreciate and understand art. However, the Festival allowed me to see art in a different light and actually ended up taking home a painting. 

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself?

A: I want to go to university in the southern United States or somewhere in Latin America, learn Spanish and earn a degree in philosophy. I have a big desire to envelop myself in other cultures and experience as much as I can abroad. I firmly believe life is about experiencing as much as you can and sharing that with the people you love.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: Surround yourself with people that have the same interests as you and make sure your environment allows you to follow those interests. Make it your mission to do what makes you happy, as long as it doesn’t affect others negatively. The rest will come.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I just wanted to add how awesome everyone is at ILNS! The programs and services offered by the organization are things we need in our society to help change the view of persons with disabilities, and that’s amazing.


headshot of Anna smiling while positioned slightly to the right. She is wearing a black shirt with a pink, red, and purple scarf around her neck.
book has a navy cover with faint stars in the background. Blue, purple, pink, and yellow flowers starting at the bottom and spreading to the top of the page. White text reads “Where the Silver River Ends”, a line above “A Novel”, at the bottom between flowers “Anna Quon”.
book cover has an orange border with a lighter pink rectangle in the middle. Inside the pink rectangle are two hands pressed together with a large butterfly on the hands and three more butterflies flying away from the hands. At the top reads “Kindness. An adult coloring book”, the bottom edge reads “pictures and poetry by Anna Quon”.

Anna Quon

Anna has been an artist at the Art of Disability Festival since 2012, get to know Anna:

Q: What does creating art mean to you?

A: I love being able to combine my art and words and see it come to life through a book, film, or a painting.

Q: What is one way you think art impacts our community in a positive way?

A: Art offers a space of expression and reflection, as well as imagination and compassion to those who make it and those who experience it. It broadens and deepens our idea of what is, and of what is possible. 

Q: What do you enjoy most about the Art of Disability Festival?

A: I enjoy the camaraderie with other artists with disabilities, especially meeting new and upcoming artists. I also enjoy interacting with customers and organizers at the event.

Q: If you could share one piece of advice for other artists living with disabilities what would it be?

A: I think everyone can make art and enjoy making it. I hope other artists with disabilities, or anyone who makes art, can keep the sense of curiosity, adventure, excitement and joy that art can bring no matter where their art practice and business takes them.


Tina Gascon

Tina has been working for ILNS for the past 3 years as ILNS’ Finance Officer, get to know Tina: 

Q: What does your role entail?

A: As the Finance Officer I do the payroll, teach Financial Management to clients and more recently ILNS has added a program where we do the payroll for Self Managers so they won't be forced to open a business, file payroll, WCB, T4 and quarterly reports just to pay their attendants.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about working for ILNS?

A: I really enjoy teaching our clients Financial management, especially when they come up and say "I wanted this thing but put it back because I heard you asking me do you really need that? You were in my head!"  

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: The one piece of advice I would give our audience is to HIRE US TO DO YOUR PAYROLL. If you are a self-manager, payroll is complicated, and filling out government remittance forms and quarterly reports is complicated, why add that unnecessary stress into your life? Let ILNS make your life easier by taking that stress and burden off your plate, we are here to help you in any way we can to live an independent life.

Q: What’s one future goal you have for yourself?

A: When my husband and I retire I would like to take six months and travel across Canada in a mini camper. I want to see every Capital City of every province and territory. Canada is a beautiful country and I want to see it all.  


picture is a selfie of Carrie Ernst.
picture shows Carrie Ernst standing to the right wearing white pants, a black and white polka dot top, and a mask, in the middle is Jen Powley holding a SOLD sign as she uses her wheelchair and smiles, to the left kneeling on both knees is Jen’s partner Tom wearing a plaid shirt and jeans, in the back is Kathleen Odell (Director of Direct Services) wearing a black shirt and mask
photo is from our annual Christmas Gala, from the left is Mike Coady (former ILNS Board Chair) sitting in his wheelchair while wearing a black suit and smiling, standing in the middle is Carrie Ernst wearing a black dress and smiling, on the right is Connor Hirtle smiling while sitting in his wheelchair wearing a balck dress shirt and pants. A christmas tree is decorated with ornaments and lights in the background.

Carrie Ernst

Carrie started with the organization in March of 2015, throughout this time she has held many roles before becoming Executive Director. Get to know Carrie:

Q: What does your role entail? 

A: In my current role as Executive Director, I provide organizational oversight of the programs and services we offer, on an administrative basis. Another important part of my position involves engaging in and with the disability community so we as an organization can identify the needs of Nova Scotians with disabilities and find responsive ways to these needs through different services and programs. Within my capacity, I need to use creativity to imagine how our organization would offer different supports to persons with disabilities. Working for ILNS has been one of the most rewarding positions I have held in my professional career. I am passionate about the work we’re doing and excited to see where we will be in five years time.

Q: What’s one thing everyone should know about you? 

A: I started one of the very first Career Resource Centres in Nova Scotia - these centres are now known as Nova Scotia Work Centres. This Centre started in New Waterford in response to the coal mines closing and ran for 12 years.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to share with our audience? 

A: It’s important to not only understand what work/life balance means, but to also carve out time for yourself outside of work. 

Q: What's one future goal you have for yourself?

A: I love traveling to countries I've never been to before. A few places I would love to cross off my travel list in the coming years are Italy, Spain, and Greece.


Michael sitting in a chair and smiling, he is wearing a grey long sleeve shirt, black hat, and black glasses.
picture of a red rowboat with a white interior, a rope is attached to the back of the boat while sitting in calm water with other boats in the background.
photo is a close up picture of an old red bicycle with a black wheel

Michael McCullough

Michael has displayed his artwork at our Art of Disability Festival for the past 7 years, including the past 2 years in our virtual Artist Catalogue. Get to know Michael:

Q: How long have you been creating your artwork?

A: For the past 50 years or so, I began taking photos at the age of eleven with an Ilford 35mm Rangefinder Manual camera. I have been showing and selling my work since 2000 on the Public Gardens fence, then to Halifax Keith’s Brewery market from 2001-2012. 

Q: What aspect of your art represents you or something you enjoy?

A: I enjoy taking photos of everyday life in the abstract and enjoy the Maritime theme, the ocean is in my blood. Recently I have been walking around my neighbourhood capturing local photos,  abstract design and photographing many Maritime shorelines and watercraft images.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the Art of Disability Festival?

A: The Art of Disability Festival gives me an opportunity to show my photography. I enjoy getting a personal response to my photography style and perspective. It is also gratifying to be in the artistic community and share the experience with other artists. 

Q: If you could share one piece of advice for other artists living with disabilities what would it be?

A: Every day is a new day. Every new day comes with new possibilities. Do what brings you joy and find strength in your creativity.


This photo is a headshot of Taylor smiling and wearing a suit and tie.
pictured is of Taylor (right) and a friend (left) standing together after running the Bluenose Marathon, they are both wearing light green Bluenose Marathon t-shirts and medals around their necks.

Taylor Coady 

Taylor has been involved with our Board of Directors since 2019 and currently serves as the Board Chair. Get to know Taylor:

Q: What are a few things everyone should know about you?

A: I grew up in P.E.I., so Nova Scotia is my adopted home. I have lived all over the Maritimes and it has helped me appreciate all the good things we have here, and how our challenges are not impossible to overcome. Also, I'm a huge Montreal Canadiens fan - go Habs go!

Q: What are your favourite parts about being involved with ILNS? 

A: My two favourite things about working with ILNS are working with a wonderfully talented group of people and seeing the impact, both large and small, of ILNS in the community. And of course the Christmas Gala!

Q: What is one future goal you have for yourself?

A: I've never seen a mountain in person. One day I want to travel out West and see the sights - Banff seems like a great place to visit!

Q: What is one piece of advice you want to share with our audience?

A: If possible, have plants around your home or apartment. They're nice to look at, have a calming effect, and seeing a plant grow over time is very rewarding.


First photo shows Lance standing up, with one hand on his hip and the other signalling a piece sign, and smiling at the camera.
A Spencer House group is shown (from left to right): Allison standing up beside a Yamaha keyboard, Don who is sitting behind the keyboard, Lance standing to the right of the keyboard and also holding up his nametag, and finally, ILNS staff member Pierre who is standing beside Lance.

Lance Capoquian

Lance is currently participating in our RISE transition to employment program and also completed the GAME edition of our Community Access Program (CAP) this past winter. Get to know Lance:

Q: What are a few things everyone should know about you?

A: I'm a great person. I am very outgoing and I like to meet people. I enjoy walks around my neighborhood, watching TV, and I always have an iced coffee from Starbucks in hand.

Q: What is one future goal you have for yourself? 

A: A full-time job. I would love to be able to buy a house for my family.

Q: What is your favorite part about participating in ILNS programming?

A: The people here are great. I like my work experience at Spencer House because I love to help seniors and I get to do fun activities like chair dancing, cooking, etc. ILNS has been very helpful with people with disabilities.

Q: How has participating in ILNS programming helped you to be more independent?

A: I take metro transit now independently, I have learned how to be employable - time management, presentation, etc. I have also learned how to budget money better. 

Q: What is some advice you want to share with our audience?

A: Be yourself and don't be hard on yourself. If you're hard on yourself you won't be able to see yourself for who you are - everyone is important. If you need help, ask someone at ILNS, home, etc. Keep up the good work everyone!

Supporting persons with disabilities live independently in the community

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