Updated: Jan 5
Krystian with one of his newsletters (Photo: Krystian Shaw)
January 3rd, 2022
Krystian Shaw is BC's newsletter king. Although based out of Kamloops, his newsletter, the Kamloops Self Advocate, has reached readers around the world and covers issues in BC and beyond.
We talked with Krystian about why he started the newsletter, his most memorable interviews, and the message he aims to send.
Where did the idea for the newsletter come from?
Krystian: I wanted to do something good for the community and give back to the community since I got lots of support in my life from different service providers during my growing up years, which continued into my adult years as well.
I wanted to support people with diverse abilities for as long as I can remember. I was Santa Claus for them at Christmas Parties.
Then, as my interests grew, I took online courses about internet safety for those most vulnerable with the goal of teaching what I learned to all those with diverse abilities. This got my foot in the door to start working in the disability field, which was my real passion.
Since I couldn't go to university to be a professional in the field supporting them, I decided to start my own business with advertisers to support the newsletter.
The newsletter is free for everyone to help educate those in society on what we, regardless of challenges we may face, can do, not what we can't do. My goal is to reduce stigma and discrimination.
The newsletter's to help educate those in society on what we...can do, not what we can't do
How did you go about turning the idea into reality?
Krystian: I teamed up with a very nice person named Justine from the community companion program who took my newsletter on and helped me ever since.
She taught me how to get the newsletter to print. I am a fluent reader, writer, and speller but I need help with grammar and that’s where Justine comes in now. She continues to edit my newsletter for free outside of her regular work.
The community companion program is for those with developmental disabilities, and you need to be referred by Community Living BC to go to her program.
They do activities in her program such as Meditation, eating at restaurants after every pay day, arts and crafts which she continues to do even during Covid. She does the activities on Zoom with us.
Then after work, just before the newsletter goes to print each month, she edits it for me and then spends time with me over zoom to go over the edits with me. For this reason, it is a collaborated effort that the newsletter is very professionally done.
Who is on the Kamloops Self Advocate Newsletter team?
Krystian: Justine Richmond helps with editing. She's a community companion program facilitator and advisory group member.
Ben Johnson, my best friend, is a contributor and advisory group member.
Krystian with contributors and advisory group members Ben (middle) and Lisa (right)
Lisa Coriale's a contributor and advisory group member who writes a very informative article each month.
Tami does an arts and crafts column and is a contributor, while Andrew Embury does Blazers - which is a hockey column. Further, Ashley Fontaine who works for the BC SPCA in Kamloops, is a contributor about animals and is an advisory group member too.
What are your favorite topics to cover?
Krystian: I have interviewed people in the USA, Australia, UK, Canada, and all over.
I have enjoyed interviewing singers and songwriters with and without disabilities. I have interviewed diverse ability fashion models. I have interviewed mental health comedians and Reality TV Stars with Down syndrome from a show called Born This Way.
How do you come up with the different topics?
Krystian: I do lots of researching online and get some ideas from my advisory group members that helps me come up with different article ideas and different theme suggestions every few months.
Krystian was profiled by Shaw TV
You’ve interviewed so many people – what have been your most memorable interviews?
Krystian: I interviewed some reality TV stars with Down syndrome and singers and songwriters with and without disabilities to make the newsletter interesting and fun to read for everyone.
What’s the message that you want to send to self-advocates?
Krystian: They can do anything they want to do with the right supports in place.
If you dream it, you can do it.
How else are you involved in the community and self-advocacy?
Krystian: I have done some fundraisers on behalf of my newsletter, and I was a participant. I helped the heart and stroke foundation by organizing a group for the Big Bike Event a few times.
I have helped the homeless out and put on a dinner for the community to raise money for CNIB, which is a service provider for people who are blind or visually impaired. I also volunteer as a vision mate too.
What are your goals for the future?
Krystian: To promote a variety of different articles and themes in the newsletter, not just disability related topics.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Krystian: In the newsletter we have recipes, jokes, quotes, Eco friendly Tips etc.
The newsletter is fun, interesting, and has different themes, such as Christmas and all Holiday Seasons, which includes Hanukkah. I also include word search puzzles for those puzzle lovers.
Please find us on our Facebook under The Kamloops Self Advocate Newsletter and our tagline on Facebook is putting Kamloops on the Map and the reason being is we focus on international stories too not just local stories.
We are also all over the internet including selfadvocatenet.com. Our home base is Kamloops, but the Newsletter can be accessed all over the world. As well as online, I deliver to coffee shops, food places and to lots of places in Kamloops.
Thanks, Justine, for helping me with editing.
For more on the Kamloops Self Advocate Newsletter, visit its Facebook page
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!