FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Premier’s Council on Disabilities held its annual event today to recognize Dec. 3 as the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The 2018 theme is Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

“Our government is committed to working hard for and with all New Brunswickers to deliver results for our province,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “Through its leadership, the Premier’s Council on Disabilities is improving the lives of persons with a disability and helping make the New Brunswick dream attainable for all.”

Cardy spoke on behalf of Premier Blaine Higgs.

To mark the day, the council hosted an event at the Delta Hotel in Fredericton featuring guest speaker Jim Kyte.

Kyte made history by being the first, and to date only, legally deaf player in the National Hockey League. Drafted in the first round, 12th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in 1982, he played 598 games over the course of his NHL career. Along with the Jets, he played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks. He also played with the International Hockey League’s Las Vegas Thunder and Kansas City Blades. His playing career came to an end in 1997 after he sustained a concussion following a car accident.

“The goal of events like the one held today is to promote understanding about disability issues, empowering persons with disabilities while also increasing awareness about the way inclusive practices benefit society as a whole,” said Randy Dickinson, chair of the Premier’s Council on Disabilities. “We are pleased Mr. Kyte was able to join us for today’s event and thank him for taking the time to share his story.”

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992.

Over the years, the day has been recognized to encourage people, organizations, governments, and societies all over the world to focus on issues related to the inclusion of persons with a disability and measures to support greater equality.