Guest Post Written by our friends at British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS)
In November 2015, Indigenous Disability Awareness Month (IDAM) was first recognized and officially proclaimed by the Métis Nation of British Columbia, the BC First Nations Summit and the Province of British Columbia. In 2016, the Assembly of First Nations, the Council of Yukon First Nations and the Province of Saskatchewan all officially recognized and proclaimed the month as well.
IDAM continues to be the first and only recognition specific to Indigenous peoples living with disabilities, anywhere in the world. Indigenous Disability Awareness Month was created to raise awareness of the often-unique issues that face the Indigenous population of Canada who live with disabilities while also recognizing the valuable contribution they bring to our communities on a daily basis.
Indigenous individuals and families living with a disability are a marginalized group within an already marginalized population and often the “invisible” members of Canada’s disability sector. Indigenous peoples in Canada experience a rate of disability twice that of the non-Indigenous population. As well, it is known that the prevalence of disabilities and the likelihood of becoming disabled increases within impoverished populations such as the conditions seen within many Indigenous communities. In 2016, 80% of Canada’s First Nation communities (4 out of 5) had median incomes that fell below the poverty line (Stats Canada).
Barriers faced in Canada by Indigenous peoples living with a disability and their families include competition for limited resources; lack of information on available external resources and how to access them; jurisdictional issues; remoteness and transportation; and experienced discrimination/racism, to name only a few.
In order to help Indigenous persons living with disabilities and their families access financial resources, BCANDS has partnered with the Access RDSP program to provide free support to help people become eligible, open and manage a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). BCANDS RDSP Navigators work with folks every step of the way to ensure individuals and their families receive all the financial resources they are entitled to when they are approved for the DTC.
BCANDS/IDC supports individuals with:
- applying for the DTC
- opening an RDSP
- filing income taxes
- E150 applications
- referrals to other BCANDS/IDC programs and services