Every May, Inclusion Canada celebrates Community Living Month, a time when people across the country celebrate the many successes of creating inclusive communities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Founded in 1958, Inclusion Canada (formerly the Canadian Association for Community Living) has played a central role in advancing the rights of almost 1 million people with an intellectual disability in Canada and their families.
In this blog post, we’ll revisit some of our past advocacy and how we continue to work towards an inclusive Canada.
Safe & Inclusive Communities – Ending Institutionalization
Inclusion Canada was founded by family members who believed that their children with a disability deserved an inclusive life in the community. One of the core beliefs that led to the inclusion movement was the desire to close institutions in Canada.
An institution is any place in which people who have been labelled as having an intellectual disability are isolated, segregated, and/or congregated. In these facilities, people with an intellectual disability are not allowed to exercise control over their own lives.
In 1986, 10,000 people with an intellectual disability in Canada were living in 31 large institutions (100 or more beds) across the country.
Since the late 1950s, disability rights advocates have been calling for an end to institutionalization. Inclusion Canada and the inclusion movement have played a key role in changing public opinion and policy to reflect an inclusive life for people with disabilities. In 2010, the number of people with an intellectual disability living in large institutions had dropped to 900. In the last 2 years alone, 2 large institutions have been closed in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Inclusion Canada and our Federation members continue to advocate for an inclusive life in the community today. The Deinstitutionalization Task Force holds government accountable to ensure that institutions are a thing of the past. We continue to develop policy on accessible affordable housing options in the community and demonstrate examples of how it is possible through our My Home My Community initiative.
There is meaningful work that still needs to be done. We continue to work towards the goal of a Canada that is institution-free, where all people with an intellectual disability will live full and inclusive lives in the community.
Making the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) a Reality in Canada
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the first legally binding international treaty protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The CRPD was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2006. The CRPD, in 50 articles, clearly articulates what existing human rights mean within a disability context and establishes reporting and monitoring procedures for States Parties. Additionally, there is an Optional Protocol which provides for a complaints mechanism enabling groups and individuals, to have the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities consider a claim that a State Party has violated the provisions in the CRPD.
Inclusion Canada, as a national member of Inclusion International, was an active participant in the negotiation of the CRPD. Canada signed the CRPD on March 30, 2007 and ratified the Convention in March of 2010. In December 2016, Canada announced it would take steps necessary to ratify the Optional Protocol of the CRPD.
Inclusion Canada continues to work with the disability movement and the federal government in making the CRPD a reality in Canada. This work includes civil society monitoring and reporting to the UN on Canada’s progress in implementing the Convention.
Inclusive Education – No Excuses Campaign
No Excuses is a national TV, radio, and newspaper campaign starring two young Canadians with intellectual disabilities. The purpose of the campaign was to make all Canadians aware that students with intellectual disabilities’ place is in the classroom along with all other children.
We know inclusive education is better for all children. Children learn what they experience. Inclusive education settings enable children without disabilities to learn about diversity as well as respecting and valuing all people. When children with disabilities learn alongside their peers, they are more likely to continue in education, get a job, and be included and valued in their communities. For more about the benefits of inclusion education for all, visit www.inclusiveeducation.ca