PCSP Residents Recognized with 2022 Human Rights Award

Kimberly and Todd Churchill of Portugal Cove – St. Philips, were recognized this Fall with the 2022 Human Rights Award for their advocacy work for Deaf children in the province by The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Award is presented annually in celebration of International Human Rights Day. It recognizes an individual who has made and/or continues to make a meaningful contribution to advancing and furthering human rights in Newfoundland and Labrador.

They both have been very vocal advocates for the past six years for the rights of Deaf children, like their own son Carter, to receive an education equitable to that of hearing children, particularly in their first language, American Sign Language (ASL). The Churchill’s have raised awareness around the lack of support in place in mainstream schools to provide Deaf children full access to quality education and full social inclusion following the closure of the Newfoundland School for the Deaf (NSD) in August 2010. As a result of the extensive media coverage of the Churchills’ advocacy, their name has become synonymous with the pursuit of equitable education for Deaf children in Newfoundland and Labrador. Kimberly and Todd have been very active advocates engaging in countless media interviews to promote awareness of these issues as well as challenging policymakers within the provincial government and school district to make necessary changes.

As a support to other parents of Deaf children, the Churchills founded the non-profit organization Children’s Language Acquisition Support System Inc. This was to support families of deaf, hard of hearing, and non-orally speaking children. The Churchills lobbying efforts have seen many positive changes such as engaging the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate to initiate a province-wide investigation on the education of Deaf and hard of hearing students in NL. In June 2020, a publication of their findings in a report “The Sounds of Silence: Perspectives on the Education System’s Response to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children” detailed how Deaf children were not receiving an equitable education compared to hearing children.

Both Todd and Kimberly Churchill are past recipients of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association-NL President’s Club Award. In addition, Todd was awarded the Caring Canadian Award by His Excellency Governor General David Johnston after being nominated by Mr. Shoemaker’s Grade 6 class at Beachy Cove Elementary for his charitable work with “Reason for the Rink”. Todd has also received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Governor General’s office as well as the Senate 150 Medal for contributions to the community.  Kimberly has been the recipient of many awards including the Canadian Diabetes Distinguished Dedication Award, Youth Volunteer Corps Role Model of the Year and Flare Volunteer of the Year.