Treaty 3 Grand Council conducting survey of aboriginal people with disabilities

Preparations are underway for a survey to be conducted in the Treaty 3 area to see if the needs of aboriginal people living with disabilities are being met.

This week, a group of representatives from communities across the region have been meeting at the Super 8 Minis Hall to learn interviewing techniques and refining the questions before they go into both reserve and urban communities next week to conduct the survey that is being called ‘Expanding the Circle.’

“The idea is to expand the circle of people who are fighting for the rights of the disabled,” explained Marcia Rioux, a professor of health policy at York University who traveled to Kenora to help get the survey off the ground. “This week we’re training people in the methodology for the survey so they can go out and actually run it on their own. The idea is to have First Nations persons with disabilities be able to do this on their own.”

The survey itself is being conducted by the Treaty 3 Grand Council and is a localized version of a study designed by Disability Rights Promotion International, which has been carried out in several countries all over the world. The people conducting the survey will conduct two recorded interviews a day with aboriginal people in Treaty 3 area communities who have a variety of different disabilities. Afterward, the data will be collected and will be used to create a picture of the challenges faced by that demographic in their home communities.

“We want to know if they can exercise their rights of equality, autonomy, dignity, participation and respect for differences. So we’re looking for those five human rights to see that they are respected for First Nations people with disabilities,” said Rioux. “What we want to know is how they live day-to-day. Can they get around? Are there ramps at the schools? Is there transportation? Where do they live and are they treated properly? We’re trying to get a picture of what is happening to people.”

The survey will also be looking for ways that laws and public programs can be changed to support disabled aboriginal people better.

“When the analysis is done, we’ll be looking for gaps between the stories from people’s daily lives and the promises of governments and service agencies,” said the professor.

The Treaty 3 area is just one of three regions in Ontario where the survey will be conducted with aboriginal people; the others being Toronto’s aboriginal population and the people of the Saugeen Metis. All the data is expected to be collected and compiled within the next few months, but Rioux said it will be up to individual communities to decide what to do with it.

“They might want to give it to governments, they might want to use it to add to the alternate report which will be sent to the United Nations when Canada reports to the UN Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it may be used for local purposes to show that people’s rights are not being met, it could go to the band council, it could go to local municipalities, or to the federal Department of Indian Affairs,” she said.

Debbie Lipscombe from the Treaty 3 Grand Council is heading up the effort to conduct the survey in the region, unfortunately she was not available to say what — if any — particular plans the for the data the grand council has.

SOURCE: Kenora Daily Miner and News