AFN’s Commitment to Accessibility: Building an Inclusive Future
The First Nations’ Accessibility Hub of Excellence is a central resource for awareness and capacity building in First Nations. A First Nations Accessibility Hub is a work in progress and continues to evolve with guidance from the diverse voices of First Nations persons with disabilities, Knowledge Keepers, and First Nations regions and leadership, among others. We anticipate the First Nations’ Accessibility Hub will serve as a beacon of knowledge, wisdom, empowerment and fostering capacity building for First Nations and the regions – an essential resource developed by First Nations, for First Nations.
The First Nations Accessibility Hub will endeavor to share resources and articles spotlighting the efforts of several First Nations that are working hard to build accessible and inclusive environments in First Nations. Essentially, the Hub will host, and share resources and tools aimed at supporting capacity building efforts of First Nations and demystifying the path to accessibility. The AFN commitment to accessibility extends beyond information-sharing; it encompasses advocacy tools, policymaking, funding sources and an ongoing commitment to transformative change and fostering inclusion and improving accessibility for everyone.
As we navigate this new era of accessibility, the First Nations Accessibility Hub will serve to bridge understanding, education, and awareness, and serve as an inclusive space to unite First Nations governments and First Nations citizens of all abilities and help to eliminate stigma and barriers that can impede the full and equal participation of all persons with disabilities and seniors among others.
Navigating Legislative Milestones
The recent introduction of the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) in 2019 stemmed from Canada’s ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in 2010. The aim of the ACA is to create a barrier-free Canada by 2040 and has far-reaching implications for First Nations. The ACA established a five-year period of exemption regarding First Nations and the ACA. This interim extension ends in 2026 and is intended to allow engagement and discussion with First Nations regarding the application of the ACA. The Assembly of First Nations Resolution 15/2022 advocates for extending the ACA implementation date in First Nations and to secure substantial investments for First Nations and the regions to realise fully accessible First Nations governments. For more information on the ACA:
Research In Progress
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) invites First Nations Health Centre staff, including Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Navigators, Jordan’s Principle Coordinators, and individuals with disabilities, to participate in brief 10-15 minute polls. These polls aim to identify barriers and best practices in supporting individuals with disabilities in accessing care. Insights from these polls will be shared with First Nations and regions.
AFN Resolution 10/2018 advocates for resources to engage with accessible legislation. AFN collaborates with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to secure resources for distinct First Nations accessibility legislation, a result of the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) introduced in 2019. By 2026, ACA will impact First Nations health services, housing, employment, and more. AFN seeks to extend ACA implementation in First Nations for resources and legislation development.
The gathered input will contribute to a framework and A Distinct First Nations Accessibility Law, crafted by First Nations, for First Nations. Provinces are also crafting accessibility legislation affecting First Nations. First Nations Persons with Disabilities and leadership are invited to share their voices in upcoming polls.
Your insights will shape a culturally sensitive Distinct First Nations Accessibility Framework and Law, fostering fully accessible First Nations governments. Join in building an inclusive future.
Navigating Legislative Milestones
The recent introduction of the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) in 2019 stemmed from Canada’s ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in 2010. The aim of the ACA is to create a barrier-free Canada by 2040 and has far-reaching implications for First Nations. The ACA established a five-year period of exemption regarding First Nations and the ACA. This interim extension ends in 2026 and is intended to allow engagement and discussion with First Nations regarding the application of the ACA. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Resolution 15/2022 advocates for extending the ACA implementation date in First Nations and to secure substantial investments for First Nations and the regions to realise fully accessible First Nations governments. For more information on the ACA:
The AFN Resolution 10/2018 Resources for Engagement on Distinct First Nations Accessibility Legislation provides a mandate to work with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to secure resources to develop distinct First Nations accessibility legislation and to support First Nations and First Nations persons with disabilities (FNPWD) and build First Nations regional capacity.
Read More on A Distinct First Nations Accessibility Law
Since 2017, the AFN has been engaged in dialogues with First Nations communities to gather insights on various legislative aspects of the ACA. All people deserve fair and equitable access to opportunities, environments, and resources, and some First Nations citizens face more barriers than others to access these birthrights. As a result of colonization, many individuals are facing barriers and falling through the cracks of a current system that is not culturally responsive and supportive to First Nations unique and distinct accessibility needs. To help remove barriers faced by persons with disabilities and seniors, future dialogues with First Nations will continue to invite valuable contributions to inform elements of a draft accessibility framework and to develop A Distinct First Nations Accessibility Law Health & Wellness – Assembly of First Nations (afn.ca) to help build accessible First Nations governments. This collaboration underscores our commitment to building fully accessible First Nations that promotes empowerment and inclusivity.
A Model of Accessibility for First Nations
Central to our approach is the development of an accessible AFN that serves as a model for accessibility and empowerment. The AFN is hard at work to be a model of accessibility for First Nations and the regions, and the AFN continues to make meetings and events accessible to participants and leadership by reaching out through the AFN events registration process in advance of assembles for any accessibility accommodations requirements for meetings and events. The AFN assemblies are advancing efforts to incorporate sign language teams during events and participants are provided access to communication access real-time translation (CART) and captioning translation services for national assemblies. A First Nations Accessibility Hub of Excellence will also serve to support First Nations and the regions to access tools and resources to help make meetings and events accessible.
The AFN recognizes that a world in which all First Nations attain the highest possible standard of health and well-being can only be built if our systems are accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities on an equal basis with others. The AFN recognises the many First Nations accessibility and disability advocates that have dedicated their lives to advancing accessibility and the rights of First Nations persons with disabilities, and in their honour, the AFN is building an inclusive organization, and providing an enabling environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and meaningfully participate on an equal basis with others, and that disability is systematically integrated in all work of the organization as it advances its mission to promote the political, economic and social advancement of all First Nations peoples. Thus, the AFN commits to making an organization which is inclusive of persons with disabilities in all their diversity and which systematically integrates a disability-lens in all its policy and advocacy work.
Resource Library (Under Construction)
Welcome to our comprehensive Resource Library, a curated collection of tools, materials, and information designed to support the journey towards accessibility and inclusivity in First Nations communities. Here, you’ll find a growing repository of resources that address a wide range of topics related to disability, accessibility, and empowerment. Whether you’re seeking best practices, guidelines, case studies, or practical tools, our Resource Library is here to assist you on your path to creating fully accessible environments for everyone.
AFN Resolution 10/2018 directs the AFN to work with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to secure resources aimed at crafting unique accessibility legislation for First Nations communities in response to Bill C-81 and the Accessible Canada Act (ACA). This collaboration underscores our commitment to building fully accessible First Nations that promote empowerment and inclusivity.
In Dedication and Remembrance:
The Assembly of First Nations’ Accessibility Hub of Excellence is dedicated to the cherished memories of the late Wendal Nicholas, Tobique First Nation and Doreen Demas, Dakota, who were giants in the field of disability advocacy and have contributed immensely from their lifetimes of advocating for the rights of First Nations persons with disabilities and have laid the foundation for the historic undertaking to build fully accessible First Nations governments. Their voices and memories will live on through this work and through the gathering of the history of the many disability advocates and champions that have helped to make a difference at the domestic and international levels. We also want to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of Marsha Ireland, Max Ireland, and Dominique Ireland and the First Nations Accessibility Knowledge Keepers Circle consisting of persons with disabilities, leaders and wisdom keepers and the many voices that continue to contribute value, hope, and meaning to building accessible First Nations.
Thank you for your interest in the Assembly of First Nations’ Accessibility Hub. We value your input, questions, and contributions. If you have any inquiries or would like to get in touch, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].
Your engagement is important in shaping this platform and advancing the cause of accessibility and inclusivity in First Nations communities. We look forward to hearing from you and working together towards an accessible future for all.
The Assembly of First Nations is committed to making all our digital sites and products accessible for people living with disabilities. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone while applying relevant accessibility standards: we strive to meet or exceed the W3C’s WCAG 2.1 Level AA for all our digital offerings.