Council of Community Living Ontario

To have an inclusive community starts with us. We must possess the courage to make it happen!

The Council of Community Living Ontario consists of 12 self-advocates from across the province that come together to make a difference in the lives of people who have an intellectual disability by making sure their voices are heard. They work together with Community Living Ontario’s Board of Directors to find solutions and share information, opinions, knowledge, and experience on important issues such as poverty, safe and affordable housing, human rights, and barriers to quality health care.

The Council members are elected at Community Living Ontario’s conference and consist of at least one representative from each of the following geographical areas: North East, North West, South East, South West, and Central. If you are interested in learning more about Council, contact Meaghan Mitchell, Council Engagement Coordinator at mmitchell@communitylivingontario.ca or 519-400-8717 or the President of the Council, Niko Pupella, at niko.pupella@gmail.com.

Meet the Council

Niko Pupella – President

Niko is from Uxbridge and he’s a part of Community Living Durham North. He enjoys volunteering for various groups, helping others, bowling, hanging out with his friends, spending time with family, and he loves animals, including dogs and horses. He rides every week and absolutely loves it. He hopes to one day own his own horse. Niko likes learning about technology and how it’s changing.  A part of A-team Self-Advocates and the Rights Review Board Committee, Niko helps to fight for fair rights of people supported. He hopes to continue that fight while working with the Council on a Provincial level, and he also wants to make sure people are heard when it comes to issues with ODSP, fair rent, work wages, and the many issues related to poverty, and how we can make sure everyone is being treated well.

James Taylor – Vice President

James has been on Council for five years and has previously been President of the Council of Community Living Ontario for four years. He is also the Chair of New Vision Advocates, a self-advocate group in his hometown of London. James is active in the community, giving presentations to groups and schools, such as Fanshawe College, on how to advance equal citizenship, acceptance, and belonging.  James works full-time as a receptionist at Community Living London and enjoys playing sports in the Special Olympics.

Mark Anderson – Past President

Mark is a strong advocate for people with developmental disabilities living in London and has served on Council for two years. He’s been a member of New Vision Advocates for the past decade, currently serving as the secretary of its Executive Board. Mark is also active in giving presentations to college students, community groups, and staff of Community Living London.

Raina Flexhaug – Secretary

Raina is from Pembroke. As a Council member Raina is passionate about advocating for inclusion, despite limitations. She sits on a self-advocate committee for her association, which promotes inclusion, being goal-oriented, and being an active member of the community. She enjoys dancing, cooking and baking, art, and being a successful businesswoman.

Theresa Somerton – Treasurer 

A Belleville resident, Theresa joined Council in 2017. She is passionate about breaking down barriers related to disability and making sure the voices of self-advocates across the province are heard.  Theresa’s hobbies include dancing, listening to country music, and crafts.

Ashley Stekel is a member of Community Living Durham North’s self-advocate group, the ‘A-Team’ and feels strongly about equality and inclusion. She has been a part of the Council since 2016.

Nicole Flynn is enrolled in the General Arts and Science program at Loyalist College, where she’s a member of the women’s cross country team. Her long-term goal is to be an advisor to the government on behalf of people who have a developmental disability.

Nicole stands up for people’s rights around inclusion, education, employment, housing, and health care, and she’s very excited to be on the Council to expand her knowledge and experience.  In her spare time, she likes to be outside in nature and hang out with her boyfriend, Kai Freeland.

Crystal Wales works at Community Living Walkerton and District in the kitchen. She is a member and secretary of the Walkerton Action Committee, the organization’s self-advocate group, and the Wingham Lions Club; this allows her to help many people through community service. She is happy to be a member of the Council of Community Living Ontario.

Stella Curtis is from North Bay, Ontario. She has been on the North Bay Advocacy Council for 21 years, where she has been President for 4 years and Vice-President for 2 years.  Due to Covid-19, meetings have been taking place on the phone to stay safe.  To pass her time, she enjoys practicing her sign language.

Gordon (Gordy) Trowsdale is from Cayuga, Ontario and part of the Community Living Haldimand Self-Advocate group, Empowering Voices. He feels very strongly about being a self-advocate and ensuring inclusion for all.  He enjoys listening to music, watching live sports events, going to concerts and travelling.  Photography is a hobby of Gordon’s and he loves to take pictures in his spare time.

Jordan Pretchuk is from Thunder Bay, ON where he is the Chair of his self-advocate group. He enjoys being involved with Community Living Ontario because he believes the organization advocates for the needs of people with disabilities. He appreciates that CLO cares about helping people integrate into the community where they can participate in a full life.

Scott Schihl is from Port Colborne, Ontario and is a member of Port Colbourne-Wainfleet Community Living.  He is running for a position on the Council of Community Living Ontario as he finds enjoyment in promoting inclusion and the rights of people who have a disability.  Scott is a member of STAR, the Chairperson for ‘People Helping People Achieve’ and sits on the Board of Port Colbourne-Wainfleet Community Living.

Jessica Forsyth is from Walkerton, Ontario.  She is a member of Community Living Walkerton and District and is interested in running for the Council of Community Living Ontario. Jessica’s interest in the culinary arts has found her working in the kitchen with Community Living Walkerton catering service.  She has also helped raise money for an accessible playground in her community and for the past three years, Jessica has been on a committee to make the community garden accessible for all.  Jessica is interested in being part of the Council as a way to apply her leadership skills and to listen to the concerns and ideas of fellow self-advocates.