Michael McLellan: Self-Advocacy Is Everything For Me

Michael McLellan smiling

Michael McLellan's passion is self-advocacy (photo: Inclusion BC)

By Spencer van Vloten

BC Disability

August 27th, 2021

Co-founder of the Self Advocate Leadership Network (SALN), Nanaimo’s Michael McLellan is one of BC’s most prominent self-advocates, spending decades working to ensure that British Columbians with intellectual disabilities are empowered as community leaders.

We talked with Michael about his passion for advocacy, his top priority for the 2021 election, and an exciting new project he’s working on with Inclusion BC.


How did you get started in self-advocacy?

Michael: My introduction to self-advocacy was the 2000 Inclusion BC conference, which means I’ve been involved in the self-advocacy movement for over 20 years.

Getting as far as I have, onto the Inclusion BC board and People First of Canada board, doing small jobs and sometimes big jobs, I love the work; it’s in my blood and I’ll never stop.

Self-advocacy is everything for me and I’ve come along in a lot of ways, learning so many things from so many people.

What do you consider the highlights of your 20+ years in self-advocacy?

Michael: One of the big ones was co-founding SALN. We formed just before the pandemic started, and when it did start it forced us to work fast.

We've worked on many issues during the pandemic, but perhaps our biggest achievement was helping to get the essential visitor policy changed, so that families could once again see their loved ones who were in care facilities and hospitals.

SALN’s work has spread internationally, and we’ve given presentations to people from as far as Australia and Korea.

Michael receiving an award for helping create welcoming communities. He is standing with Anita Holland, and both are smiling.

Michael's made a big impact in his 20+ years of self-advocacy. Here he is accepting an award from Anita Holland for his role in creating welcoming communities (photo: Community Living BC)

What issues do you want the 2021 election candidates to address?

Michael: Poverty’s the big thing.