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Member Profile October 2015




Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, far left, observes as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, second from left, meets members of the Canadian CRPD delegation, including Bendina Miller (Canadian Association for Community Living), Traci Walters (Independent Living Canada), Steve Estey (CCD) on the day that Canada ratified the CRPD. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

This month CCIC met with James Hicks, the National Coordinator of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities to discuss the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the SDGs and the need for an ODA disability policy, among other things!


CCIC - For our readers who are unfamiliar with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities could you briefly describe the work you do, particularly at the international level.

James Hicks - CCD has been involved internationally for many years.  One of its first international endeavors occurred at the 1980 Rehabilitation International (RI) Congress, which took place in Winnipeg.  When RI rejected the proposal of delegates with disabilities to have people with disabilities make up 50% of the board of directors, activists within CCD, along with people with disabilities from other countries, resolved to form their own international organization.  In 1981, the UN International Year of Disabled Persons, Disabled Peoples' International (DPI) was founded in Singapore and Canadians have held positions on the board and in development roles. 

CCD formed an International Committee that fostered partnerships between CCD member groups and DPI member groups.  In addition, CCD has undertaken development education with Canadians and development NGOS, sharing information about how war and conflict contribute to disablement and how people with disabilities can be overlooked in development programming, if development organizations do not take care to ensure their programming is inclusive of people with disabilities.  To address this issue the CCD International Committee encouraged the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to develop a disability policy to guide Canada's official development assistance endeavours.


CCIC - The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is at the core of your mandate and programming. We understand that 2016 is an important year for Canada. Please explain why and how the Council of Canadians with Disabilities is involved.

James Hicks - The CRPD has become a priority for CCD, because the standards elaborated in the Convention provide a blueprint for achieving a Canada that is inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.  Steve Estey, Chairperson of CCD's International Committee, was appointed to Canadian delegations which participated in the drafting of the CRPD at the United Nations.  During the drafting stage, CCD convened consultations where the disability community provided input to the Canadian CRPD delegations.  Since ratification of the CRPD in 2010, CCD has undertaken awareness raising activities in Canada to inform the disability community and other interested Canadians about the CRPD's provisions.  In June, Mr. Estey participated in the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD which took place at the UN. 

A priority for CCD is the implementation of the CRPD by the Government of Canada.  During this Federal election, we polled all Federal Parties about their plans with regard to CRPD implementation.  The Liberals, the NDP and the Green Parties committed to approaching disability from a human rights model.

In 2016, the CRPD Committee is scheduled to make public its list of issues for Canada's CRPD review, which is expected to take place in 2017.  Canada submitted its initial report to the CRPD Committee in 2014.  At present, CCD and the disability community in Canada are in the process of developing a civil society response, also known as a shadow report.


CCIC - CCIC recently came across this interesting UN infographic related to disability in the context of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  What opportunities do the SDGs provide for persons with disabilities and is it sufficient?

James Hicks - Disability is a cause of poverty, so it was bizarre that people with disabilities were invisible in the 2000 Millennium Development Goals.  The SDGs address disability directly, which is due in part to the advocacy of the international organizations of people with disabilities, such as DPI.  The SDGs address disability in the context of education, growth and employment, inequality, accessible communities, data collection and monitoring, so this is a good start.  The next phase of work is to ensure robust monitoring and implementation.  CCD has shared its perspective with the Government of Canada regarding an effective SDGs data collection strategy, inclusive of disability.

A disproportionate number of Canadians with disabilities live in poverty, which is why poverty amelioration was a priority issue that CCD raised with Canada's Federal Parties during Election 2015.


CCIC - What should CCIC members and other international development and humanitarian assistance civil society organizations do in order to ensure that their work includes persons with disabilities?

James Hicks - Invite people with disabilities to the table – NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US.  CCD also encourages CCIC members to keep supporting the efforts of the disability community to establish a disability policy to guide Canada's official development assistance endeavours.


CCIC - The Council of Canadians with Disabilities has been an active CCIC member for many years. What does your organization bring to CCIC and why is this important?

James Hicks - With its in-depth of knowledge of how to achieve access and inclusion for people with disabilities, CCD and its members can be a practical resource to CCIC's partners. Through our work at the international level we have seen firsthand that all development initiatives have the potential to impact people with disabilities.  When you come up against barriers for inclusion of people with disabilities, we hope that you will call us.



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