Indigenous Disability Awareness Month
November is Indigenous Disability Awareness Month. It was founded by the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS) in 2015 to bring awareness to the issues faced by Indigenous people living with disabilities, celebrate their achievements, and recognize the significant and valuable contributions they make to our communities.
Who is BCANDS?
BCANDS is an Indigenous not-for-profit society that provides support, resources, and services for Indigenous persons with disabilities. They are in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
According to the BCANDS website, the Indigenous population of Canada experiences a disability rate 30% - 35% higher than that of the non-Indigenous population. This includes less visible disabilities, like poor mental health, trauma, pain, and fatigue. One explanation for this increased rate is the long-lasting, multi-faceted, intergenerational trauma resulting from the residential school system. Additionally, Indigenous populations face economic, systemic, societal, racial, and medical barriers.
How can they help?
A vast array of services to eligible individuals, families and organizations, both within Indigenous communities and urban and rural centres. If you are an Indigenous person living with a disability or a community or organization requiring disability or health information and support services, BCANDS may be able to assist.
Their list of resources includes informational links to service requests, registered disability savings plans, supplements, their annual Wellness Gathering, and much more.
Indigenous Disability Awareness Month
2022 marks the 8th anniversary of Indigenous Disability Awareness Month and is now recognized by the Provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the Assembly of First Nations, BC First Nations Summit, Métis Nation of BC, Council of Yukon First Nations, the Town of Inuvik, and hundreds of other organizations and communities across Canada. In 2017 the United Nations International Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recommended to Canada to officially declare November as IDAM annually.
How you can help
The BCANDS website states:
By working together in compassion and respect, we can work towards a Canada that is inclusive, equitable, and accessible for everyone. Show your organizations, or your community’s support by recognizing and proclaiming IDAM annually! Join countless supporters across Canada by filling out your own proclamation statement (click on the image below- edit as you need), send back to firstname.lastname@example.org, and share widely!
Ways to support Indigenous Persons with Disabilities
Awareness – learn about different conditions and their impacts and needs. Encourage education/training sessions in the home, workplace, and schools to ensure that equity, diversity, and inclusion are prioritized.
Respect – be flexible and accommodating regarding the need for support devices or other assistance while also acknowledging cultural protocols, personal skills and talents, and interests.
Action – be an advocate for inclusion and equity by lending your support on social media, attending events, and donating to causes that provide support and opportunities for Indigenous people with disabilities.
“By working together in compassion and respect, we can work towards a Canada that is inclusive, equitable, and accessible for everyone.”
Further resources and learning:
BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society http://www.bcands.bc.ca/
BCANDS’ Indigenous Disability Awareness Month: https://www.bcands.bc.ca/indigenous-disability-awareness-month-idam/
International Day of People with Disabilities https://idpwd.org/
Navigating COVID-19 for Indigenous Persons with Disabilities and Their Families https://planinstitute.ca/2020/12/08/navigating-covid-19-for-indigenous-persons-with-disabilities-and-their-families/