The Journey of My Experiences with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities

(In this piece, Huma Gulrez, guest blogger, shares a personal perspective on volunteering with CCD during the summer of 2014.  CCD is a community resource, where students have the opportunity to learn first-hand about disability rights.)

My name is Huma Gulrez. I came from Pakistan in order to pursue my Masters in Disability Studies from University of Manitoba. During my summer break, I worked for Council of Canadians with Disabilities as a volunteer in order to understand the deep underlying issues in the field of disability. I have a strong inclination since my youth to work for people with disabilities. However, since there is no course offered in Pakistan in the field of disability studies; I decided to enter the field of Psychology that would provide me with an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of those experiencing disabilities. I have also been working professionally in this field as a Clinical Psychologist for over seven years in Pakistan. My education and training has allowed me to help many troubled individuals and their families to cope with their conditions and lead much normal lives through therapies as well as personal, social and vocational training.

Working for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities as a volunteer is a great honor for me and I am proud to be a part of it. My work responsibilities included assisting the CCD staff to prepare reports and developing articles for newsletters. I have been engaged in proof reading and editing materials. I was also responsible for answering the phone calls, arranging files and distributing incoming correspondence to the concerned person. One of the exciting experiences at CCD was my tour to the Human Rights Museum. Shuaib Chalklen (UN Special Rapporteur) was with us during the whole tour. It was a wonderful experience for me and I felt really nice to be amongst the first ones to visit the museum even before its official opening.

The Annual Council meeting was a great experience for me as well. I met Council members who came for the meeting from every province of Canada. They shared their experiences regarding the issues with respect to disability in their respective provinces in detail.  I was surprised to learn that even in Canada disabled people face many problems and the dilemma between the truth and the hidden truth i.e. the real truth which is not present in legal documents, but should be highlighted through shadow reports. The issues regarding low-income, poverty and Canada Post should be resolved to achieve a better future of Canadians with disabilities.

By working in a friendly environment, I learnt a great deal of new things. I am fortunate enough to work with a wonderful team at CCD office especially April and Clare. During my time working there, they both have encouraged me throughout to explore as much as I can. I would love to serve CCD again in the future once I’m done with my Master’s program.

Part II

CCD Highlighted Specific Issues of Canada's First Report


Huma Gulrez 

(Huma Gulrez, student of University of Manitoba, doing Master’s in Disability Studies. I have joined CCD as a volunteer. My origin is from Pakistan and I came to Canada to understand the deep underlying issues in the field of disability. My work experience with CCD has given me a lot of confidence and experience to analyze things meticulously.  The Annual Council meeting was my first experience with the organization. I was really surprised to hear that there are many hidden barriers for people with disabilities even in Canada. I want to share some of the omissions, inaccuracies and discrepancies in the Canada’s First Report on CRPD that should not be overlooked and need to be resolved.)

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities arranged a National Council meeting to review Canada’s First Report on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the Victoria Inn Hotel on June 6,7 2014 respectively. Representatives from provincial as well as national organizations gave their feedback regarding the omissions and inaccuracies in the report. Shuaib Chalklen , special guest from South Africa (UN Special Rapporteur) was invited for this meeting.  He voiced concerns about Canada’s failure to implement Article 33 appropriately as well as the reservation on Article 12 of CRPD.

General Observations

It was discussed that, there are many omissions and inaccuracies in the report as its not revealing the whole truth. Steve Estey (Chair of the CCD International Committee) also mentioned that “When I read the Government of Canada report, it makes very clear to me why they say to swear to tell the truth and the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  The report doesn’t tell the whole truth in many of the areas."  Moreover, the support that has been traditionally provided is no more and there are many hidden barriers for people with disabilities. So, the need of the hour is to highlight our concerns as the 60 page CRPD report did not cover the hidden concerns. The best strategy to resolve this issue is to write shadow reports as it’s the wise way of analysing a problem in order to present alternative.  This strategy would bring drastic change.