Changes on the CCD National Council of Representatives

This spring, the membership of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) elected and appointed new people to serve on the National Council of Representatives, CCD’s governing body.

Meet the New CCD Executive - At its June Annual General Meeting, the CCD National Council elected a Executive Committee that will be in office for the next two years.  The members are:

Jewelles Smith, Chairperson
Pat Danforth, 1st Vice Chair (Pat represents the Disability Alliance BC.)
Carmela Hutchison, 2nd Vice Chair (Carmela represents the DisAbled Women’s Network Canada - Réseau d'action des femmes handicapées du Canada.)
Roxana Jahani Aval, Secretary (Roxana represents the National Educational Association of Disabled Students.)
Treasurer - Vacant
Frank Folino, Member at Large (Frank represents the Canadian Association of the Deaf - Association des Sourds du Canada.)

Members at Large on Council - Earlier in the year, Council elected John Rae and Natalie Spagnulo as Members at Large on the CCD Council.  

Terry Green, Kory Earle and Tony Dolan formed CCD’s Nominating Committee and conducted our elections.  Due to the hard work of the Nominating Committee and the level of interest in the work being undertaken by CCD, a large number of candidates ran for office and most positions were contested.  Thanks to Terry, Kory and Tony for their leadership throughout our elections.

Thank you also to everyone who ran in CCD’s elections.

Newly Appointed Representative - Shortly following the June Annual General Meeting, the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) appointed Vangelis Nikias as its representative to the CCD National Council.

CCD expresses its appreciation to retiring Executive Committee members and Council Members. Leaving the Executive Committee are Tony Dolan and John Rae who served as Past Chair and 1st Vice, respectively, from 2016 to 2018.  Retiring Council members are May Recollet-Goulais, who completed her term as Member at Large on Council, and Allan Conway, who had been representing AEBC for the past two years.

As their biographies show, the newly elected officers, our two Members at Large on Council and our recently appointed AEBC representative have extensive experiential and professional knowledge related to the issues addressed by CCD.  (Their bios are at the end of this announcement).

The aforementioned members join the following representatives on the National Council: Ian Young (Voice of Albertans with Disabilities), Eva Beaudoin (Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities), Terry Green (Citizens with Disabilities – Ontario), Monique Beaudoin (La Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec) Deborah Wood Salter (PEI Council of People with Disabilities), Alex Peeler (Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities), Emily Christy (Coalition of Persons with Disabilities Newfoundland and Labrador), Susan Dauphinais (NWT Disabilities Council), Ellen Cohen (National Network for Mental Health), Kory Earle (People First of Canada), Gregor Wolbring (Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada),

In the coming months, the CCD team will implement the strategic plan that was developed over the last two years.  As part of the strategic planning process, we renewed our mission and mandate statements. They are as follows:

Mission - The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is a social justice organization of people with all disabilities that champions the voices of people with disabilities, advocating an inclusive and accessible Canada, where people with disabilities have full realization of their human rights, as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mandate - The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) unites advocacy organizations of people with disabilities to defend and extend human rights for persons with disabilities through public education, advocacy, intervention in litigation, research, consultation and partnerships.  CCD amplifies the expertise of our partners by acting as a convening body and consensus builder.

~ Jewelles Smith,
CCD Chairperson

Biographies of CCD Executive, Members at Large on Council and New AEBC Representative

CCD Executive Committee

Jewelles Smith

Jewelles Smith is a strong voice for human rights in Canada. She is a feminist disability activist, scholar, writer and artist. Jewelles has received training in human rights monitoring, women's human rights justice, and methods in using legislation, policy and human rights treaties to challenge inequality. She is a PhD candidate the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus and resides in British Columbia with her service dog, DaVinci.

Pat Danforth

Pat Danforth has more than 30 years of governance and board experience in a wide variety of government and not for profit sectors. She is committed to embracing and leading change that makes a difference.

Pat has worked on rights based issues since becoming reliant on a wheelchair in 1970.  She has taken a leadership role with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD). She represents the Disability Alliance BC on CCD’s board. She also volunteers on CCD’s Transportation Committee and is a member of its Human Rights Committee.

She is a founding mother of the DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN). Pat’s career includes work for provincial and federal governments, Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, as well as the Canadian Labour Congress. Her varied background includes the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission Board of Commissioners, Regina Health District Board, National Transportation Agency and CUPE National’s Disability Working Group. She has specialist knowledge of rights and disability issues, policies and programs.

Pat currently serves on a variety of committees including:
• BC Ferries Accessibility Advisory Committee
• Chair, Disability Alliance BC
• Transportation Committee and human rights committee
• Council of Canadians with Disabilities
• Working Group for development of Saanich Accessibility Committee

Past committee work includes Vice Chair, Accessible Transportation Advisory Committee, BC Transit and Member, Advisory Design Panel, District of Saanich.

Pat recognizes that volunteer work is essential in making a difference to the lives of people living with disabilities.

Carmela Sebastiana Hutchison

Carmela is 57 years old and lives with her husband, Bob, in Irricana, Alberta. Having graduated in 1983 with a diploma in nursing from Mount Royal College, Carmela has a background as a registered nurse who specialized in Mental Health. She has worked in long-term, acute, adolescent and community mental health and psychiatric settings. In 1990, Carmela sustained injuries in a rollover car accident. In 1991, she went on long-term disability after receiving a diagnosis of multiple personality (now called dissociative identity disorder or DID), depression, and post-concussion syndrome. She also lives with numerous physical conditions and uses a wheelchair. Her husband of 38 years, Bob, lives with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and seasonal affective disorder. Healthy relationships are essential to good mental health. In 1996, the year that people with disabilities finally achieved protection under the Alberta Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, Carmela became involved in the mental health consumer movement.

She is President of the DisAbled Women's Network of Canada (DAWN-RAFH Canada, Carmela is a 2nd Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (

Carmela is President of the Alberta Network for Mental Health ( and the Vice-Chair/Treasurer of the Alberta Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health ( She is member of the Alberta Disabilities Forum (ADF).

Carmela has received the 2007 Council of Canadians with Disabilities Award Contribution to the Disability Rights Movement in Canada and the 2003 Nadine-Sterling Award for Self-Disclosure and Commitment to Consumer Based Initiatives.

Carmela presents educational workshops on mental illness and disability and assists in facilitating support groups. She has made numerous media appearances; on Jun 22, 2017 Carmela was featured in 150 Canadians who STAND OUT in Standout Publications and in the 2017 film entitled Not a One-Way Street by Eva Colmers and Dr Heidi Janz aired on BravoFACTUAL in February 2018. This film has also won the 2018 Global Insights Award at the Black Maria Film Festival (

Roxana Jahani Aval

Roxana Jahani Aval is the Acting Chair and Ontario Director of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students. Serving as the NEADS representative to CCD, she also serves as the Secretary for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. Roxana graduated from York University in Toronto, Ontario in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She is currently pursuing a second Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Rights and Equity Studies, concentrating on Disability Rights and Law. She wishes to pursue Law School in the years to come. During Roxana's time in university, she has been the founder and president of two leader based clubs on campus at York University. She sat on council for the Community Safety Council of York, and currently sits on the AccessYork committee, along with the Petitions Committee with the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies.

Frank Folino

Frank Folino was born Deaf and is a lifelong Toronto resident. He is currently President of the Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada (CAD-ASC), a not-for-profit organization that promotes the rights of Deaf Canadians who use American Sign Language (ASL) and langue des signes québécoise (LSQ). CAD-ASC is affiliated with the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), and CAD-ASC is a United Nations-accredited Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Frank served as member of the Interim Board of Directors for the Canadian Administrator of Video Relay Services, the new not-for-profit corporation that was mandated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to design, implement and oversee the delivery of Video Relay Service (VRS) in Canada.

He currently serves in professional and leadership roles on numerous federal advisory groups in Canada. Frank represents the CAD-ASC with the Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. In addition, he sits on the North America Advisory Committee for the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters. He has been representing Canada at the international level with organizations such as the World Federation of the Deaf and has attended many meetings related to the United Nations on Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Currently, Frank is elected as Member at Large on Executive Committee where he will bring with his diverse skills, knowledge and abilities including community outreach and engagement, advocacy, governance, change management and strategic planning and he continues to be involved with CCD’s International Committee.

Frank has received several awards over the years, from Festivals and Events of Ontario (FEO) in 2009, an organization that promotes economic tourism in Ontario; the Ontario Volunteer Service Award from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration in 2010, recognizing his volunteer contributions in the Province of Ontario. His most recent honour was the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in December 2012 in Canada.

Frank Folino holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Political Science from York University. His research fields focused on the political economy and political power in Canadian federalism.

CCD Members at Large on Council

Joh Rae

John Rae brings a broad combination of community, government and union involvements to all of his varied activities.

John took early retirement from the Ontario Public Service in 2005 after a 24-year career, during which time he was a Consultant with the Centre for Disability and Work, an Education Officer with the Employment Equity Commission, and prior to retirement a Program Officer with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.

John brought his community perspective to the Canadian labour movement where he served in elective positions at the local, provincial and national levels. Following his retirement, John remained involved as an active member of OPSEU's Disability Rights Caucus until the end of 2016.

During the past 43 years, John has been a board member of many human and disability rights organizations, including Co-chair of the Coalition on Human Rights for the Handicapped, which secured the first human rights coverage for persons with disabilities in Ontario. John is a Past President of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), the Canadian Legal, Advocacy, Information and Research Association of the Disabled (CLAIR), and PAL Reading Service.

John is currently a member of the Council of Canadians With Disabilities National Council, Chair of its Social Policy Committee, and a member of its Human Rights and National Accessibility and Inclusion Act Committees.

John is also a member of the Boards of Directors of Injured Workers’ Consultants Legal Clinic and the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians. He is also a member of the Canadian Museum on Human Rights' Inclusive Design & Accessibility Council, the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups Action Research Committee, and the Steering Committee of the ODSP Action Coalition.

In June, 2016, John was awarded the Cruickshank Medal from the Ontario Historical Society in recognition for his work in promoting greater access and inclusion in museums and art galleries.

John is also interested in building community, world travel, history, live theatre, visiting museums and art galleries, music and he writes and speaks frequently on a broad range of disability and other human rights issues.


Natalie Spagnuolo

Natalie is active in the disability movement at the local and national level and through CCD’s Social Policy Committee. Much of her advocacy and policy work has focused on experiences of disability and migration, intellectual disability, and women with disabilities. She has served as managing editor for health and disability-related peer review journals and has contributed research on a range of disability issues, producing articles, book chapters, reports, and pieces for popular publications. Over the past few years, Natalie has organized conferences, working groups, and community-based workshops. She is currently co-director of Memory, Witness and Hope/Mémoire, témoignages et espoir, a participatory, multi-modal project where English and French-speaking survivors of regional centres access supports to tell their stories with peers and the community at large.

Newly Appointed AEBC Representative

Vangelis Nikias

Vangelis Nikias has been active in human rights and disability issues for many years. A few years ago, he worked for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) to raise awareness on the content of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  During the United Nations (UN) negotiations of CRPD, Vangelis represented the Dept. of Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) on the official Canadian delegation as content expert.

In the 1990's, Vangelis chaired CCD's Human Rights Committee and served on the Social Policy Committee.

He has a background in adjudication - having served for nine years as vice-chair of the Ontario Social Assistance Review Board (SARB).

Vangelis has a firm human-rights orientation and believes that the implementation of CRPD can contribute to the attainment of an inclusive and accessible Canada.  This can be achieved on the basis of genuine collaboration between Canadian governments and an aware and mobilized disability community.

He believes that the strengthening of the self-representation of persons with disabilities remains today as critical as ever.  In this context, CCD’s capacity-building efforts and leading presence takes on added significance.

Currently, Vangelis works for the Government of Canada in digital policy and accessibility.