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The frequency of disabilities among Indigenous Canadians, as noted by Statistics Canada in 2018, is 22% (off-reserve data only). However, the actual rate of disability within Canada’s Indigenous communities(both on and off reserve) is conservatively estimated at 30%. Other research has suggested that the overall disability rates for Indigenous peoples in Canada is even higher, and up to three times higher than the national rate within some age groups. Additionally, it is known that the prevalence of disabilities and the likelihood of becoming disabled for Indigenous women and impoverished populations, such as the conditions seen within many Indigenous communities, significantly increases. In 2016, 80% of Canada’s First Nation communities (4 out of 5) had a median income below the poverty line (Statistics Canada).
In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that there were 1,673,785 Indigenous people living across Canada. When we consider these statistics and apply a 30% disability rate, we can conservatively estimate that there are over one half million Indigenous persons, of all ages, living with a disability across our Nation.
The 2020 Gathering seeks to bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments, leadership, community members, service providers and others from across Canada to connect, learn, form new and expanded partnerships, collaborate and identify the best practices within the disability and health sectors.
Together, at the 2020 Gathering, we will continue to take the necessary steps forward in breaking down both current and historical barriers and the attitudes and perceptions that have negatively impacted Indigenous peoples living with disabilities. In doing so, together, we will help shape a Canada that is inclusive and responsive to the needs of all people, of all colours and of all abilities.