New Year's Greeting 2024

Looking back over the past year and looking forward to 2024, I thought I would step out of the strong circle we all at CCD have created together and appreciate the people of our intersectional, cross disability and Deaf communities.

In 2023 we agreed on a five year business plan, and have been working to put it into action. This includes the videoing of people throughout our diverse communities to share our history for the “Road to 50” celebrations in two years. We reaffirmed our commitment to disability justice, through the brilliant work of the Disability Justice Litigation Team, we hosted many deep thinking guest speakers at Council meetings, that spoke to our aspirational work. We held workshops on Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA PLUS) and 10 Principles of Disability Justice in order to evolve our thinking and the lens in which we work in our analysis from policy and position papers, to the viewpoints our representation takes at all meetings we attend.

Our Council welcomed two more members with the joining of Disability without Poverty and the Environmental Health Association of Canada/Environmental Health Association of Québec. We were welcomed and asked to participate in many government and cross disability meetings and sat in partnership with our many allies on strategic issues and brought our expertise to the table when travelling in the north with the CTA President, France Pégeot  to participate in the beginning of the phase II development of regulations for small carriers and airports. We had many press interviews, hosted many National Meetings around housing, human rights, travel and were asked to be guest speakers at many organizations’ meetings. 

This year, we again faced the loss of many dynamic people from our diverse communities.  Margo Brunner-Campbell, Doreen Demas, Steve Etsey, Paul and Cheryl Thiele, Jane Arkell to mention just a few of the people whose life’s work changed untold persons’ lives for the better in Canada.

This has led to my thinking about our collective work. The work of the movement and the people in it. Each of you, whether you teach at a College or University, ensuring your students have a working understanding of people with disabilities, work at local and provincial agencies making a difference in the lives of individuals through a smile and feeling welcomed when the system sets up barriers and assisted in getting past them. Volunteering your time in helping people with housing and the barriers in post secondary institutions, sitting on accessibility boards at airports and local municipalities, supporting newcomers and working within a multi identity understanding that impacts all of us and our disabilities.  Each of us contributes every day to change that includes attitudes and environment.

As we remember those who started CCD in 1976, the many who have sat together over 47 years and those who are now sitting at the Council fire doing the work at the start of our 48th year in 2024, it is an incredible legacy that has been created. The beauty of a legacy for us is that people with disabilities created it, made the wins and faced the losses, together. It is our superpower, because we know, and are reminded on a daily basis of what needs to change. From the fight to ensure people with disabilities were named in Section 15 of the constitution, through the hundreds of papers and research reports and court cases, and thousands of meetings, we continue on, with our deep commitment and love of our diverse and beloved communities. 

Let us consider starting 2024 with a commitment first to our own personal wellness, second to understanding the incredible strength in caring about and learning from each other and third to enjoying the journey. Let us model the way we want to be treated, in how we work together. Thank you all for the privilege of working together with you and for your individual and collective work every day.

Heather Walkus,
Council of Canadians with Disabilities