Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic the BCANDS 2020 National Indigenous Disability and Wellness Gathering has been rescheduled to 2021


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November 8th, 9th and 10th, 2021 - Victoria - British Columbia - Canada

Victoria Conference Centre - 720 Douglas Street, Victoria -British Columbia - Canada

UPDATE: Early Bird Registration Extension

Please note that the early bird registration rate for delegates and vendors has been extended to May 1st, 2021. 

UPDATE: Your health and well-being is our #1 priority as such we have rescheduled the 2020 Gathering to be held in November 2021. Until then we will continue to abide by recommendations by federal and provincial health authorities. In the case that we must postpone the Gathering again, we will keep you updated on this site and the new 2021 Gathering website, currently in development . Thank you for your understanding and your support.

Stay safe and be well.


About the 2021 National Indigenous Disability

and Wellness Gathering 

 We are very pleased to be holding our third Indigenous Disability and Wellness Gathering on the ancestral lands of the Lekwungen people of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. The 20201Gathering will be held in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia during the seventh anniversary of Indigenous Disability Awareness Month being officially recognized and proclaimed. 


Frustration, isolation, desperation and finally resignation are words that describe the reality for many Indigenous (First Nation, Metis, Inuit) persons living with a disability, and their families, across Canada. Indigenous persons living with a disability often face complex and multi-jurisdictional barriers, restrictive policies and discriminatory attitudes when seeking appropriate and necessary supports regarding their specific disability related need(s). These factors, and others, continue to contribute to the exclusion and the lack of recognition of Indigenous persons living with a disability as equal members within our communities andthe continued marginalization of this group within an already marginalized population. COVID-19 has further amplified these conditions.

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 2021 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 2021 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.  



  • - Learn about the latest news, initiatives, best practices and more, relating to Indigenous disability and wellness in Canada during the sixth anniversary of Indigenous Disability Awareness Month;
  • - Learn from Indigenous and non-Indigenous leadership, service providers, advocates, governments and more, regarding the barriers, priorities and opportunities within the Indigenous disability sector of Canada, that may be relevant to your organization and / or community; 
  • - Interact with Gathering Speakers, Delegates, Colleagues and Vendors from across Canada;
  • - Experience on-site disability and health information and resources at the numerous Vendor / Exhibitor tables;
  • - Enjoy welcoming Gathering bag with Gathering information and swag, three hot breakfasts, three hot lunches, beverage breaks,  daily door prizes and more;
  • - Enjoy the Tuesday evening Mix and Mingle Social, including traditional dance;
  • - Attend the presentation of the BCANDS 2021 National Indigenous Partnership Award;
  • - Enjoy the numerous attractions Victoria has to offer. 
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You should! As well as: Indigenous Leadership; Disability Service Providers; Indigenous, Provincial, Territorial, Federal and Municipal Government's Disability, Health  and Accessibility related Departments; Indigenous Social Development and Health Programs; Indigenous Health Directors / Leads;  Physicians: Nurse Practitioners; Policy Makers; Program Managers; Psychologists; Public Guardians & Trustees; Researchers; Social Workers; Individuals and Families Living with a Disability(s), etc.  

The 2021 Gathering would be of interest to any individual, organization and other stakeholders with an interest in Indigenous disability and wellness, whether as an individual, family, professional, leader or those representing Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and organizations.

We look forward to seeing you in November 2021!





Carla Qualtrough is the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. Previously Minister Qualtrough was the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, and prior to that was the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. Prior to her career in politics, Carla was successful lawyer, dedicated volunteer, and Paralympic swimmer. Committed to equity and inclusion, Carla has practised human rights law at the federal and provincial levels. She chaired the Minister’s Council on Employment and Accessibility in British Columbia, and was an adjudicator with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal. Carla has been visually impaired since birth. Passionate about the power of sport and physical activity to change lives, Carla has volunteered locally, nationally, and internationally, including with the International Paralympic Committee and for the Toronto 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games. She has been President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Chair of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. Carla was on the Board of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, and was Vice-Chair of the Delta Gymnastics Society. As an athlete, Carla won three Paralympic and four World Championship medals. Carla has degrees in political science from the University of Ottawa and law from the University of Victoria. Among many awards for her work, she has been named one of Canada’s Most Influential Women in Sport six times, received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and was the 2017 recipient of the BCANDS National Indigenous Partnership Award.



Steven Estey is a former Human Rights Officer at Disabled Peoples' International, a Canadian based non-government organization that works globally to advance the human rights of persons with disabilities. Steven is currently under contract with BCANDS as the Lead Consultant in the Society's work domestically and internationally on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For more than 25 year Steven has worked with disabled peoples' organizations, human rights institutions, governments, intergovernmental organizations and United Nations agencies to advance disability rights. Steven has extensive experience in the areas of government relations, international cooperation, economic development, human rights and disability.



Tabatha is the Acting Director of Policy, Research and International at the Canadian Human Rights Commission.  For a number of years, she has been the Manager of the Commission’s international program.  In that role, she has served as the Commission’s primary point of engagement with the United Nations, regional bodies, and the international network of national human rights institutions.  Tabatha has represented the Commission before various United Nations bodies and has spoken at a number of domestic and international events on the role of national human rights institutions in monitoring the implementation of international human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Prior to joining the Commission, Tabatha served as a Labour Relations and Human Rights Advisor to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for several years. 


In addition to her Bachelor of Commerce degree, Tabatha holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland.



Erin Christensen is the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society's (BCANDS) Accessibility Lead. Erin has coordinated with First Nation communities, organizations and membership across Canada in relation to accessibility issues and the Accessible Canada Act. Erin is also the lead in annually promoting and raising awareness of National Indigenous Accessibility Week across Canada. 

2021 Gathering Disclaimer

The 2021 Gathering allows a change of delegate at no extra cost if the original delegate is unable to attend.

In the event of cancellation of the 2021 Gathering by the organizers, all fees paid by delegates / vendors will be returned in full although the 2021 Gathering is not responsible for any other financial losses such as travel and hotel costs.

The 2021 Gathering is not liable in any way for any injuries, sickness or accident or any costs incurred as a consequence of such an event or any other losses to which a delegate / vendor or accompanying person may be subjected to whist travelling to or from the 2021 Gathering or whilst attending the Gathering in Victoria or any of the events organized.

Speakers will be posted once they have confirmed their attendance. However, the 2021 Gathering informs delegates / vendors and speakers that that the final agenda could change for reasons beyond its control. The 2021 Gathering reserves the right to make changes to the agenda and is not responsible for any financial losses or costs incurred by delegates / vendors or participants in association with their participation at the 2021 Gathering.

The 2021 Gathering reserves the right to deny any registration or admission to, or remove any party from the 2021 Gathering, in our sole discretion.


We are very pleased, and proud of all our Sponsors whose generous support will make the 2021 Gathering a great and memorable event!  Click on our Sponsor's logos to learn more about these great partners!  If you are interested in becoming a Sponsor for the 2021 Gathering please click HERE!