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Honouring diversity in all its forms

UM celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 1, 2023 — 

December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities which aims to promote understanding of issues that impact people who live with disabilities, and to mobilize support for their rights and well-being.

The President’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Final Report, released in December 2020, affirmed that disabled persons need to be central in policy-making and that ableism must be examined within our institutional systems and approaches.

“The impact of ableism is varied across a range of disabilities, some visible externally and others not,” says Tina Chen, Vice-Provost (Equity). “Assumptions and privileges based on normative body ability, neurotypicality, and mental health must be confronted and addressed to enable full and equal participation for people living with disabilities and chronic health conditions. Advancing disability justice and human dignity is key to empowering all members of our community to flourish, aligns with our core values, and also helps UM grow in vibrancy and impact in the world.”

Advancing equity and access at UM

“Dismantling Ableism and Promoting Equity for People with Disabilities,” led by a multi-disciplinary group of UM researchers addresses inequities experienced by those with disabilities because of systemic ableism.

The project received federal support through the inaugural Robbins‐Ollivier Award for Excellence in Equity. It aims to increase understanding of the impacts of ableism on disabled persons and, ultimately, to embed anti-ableism across university policies and practices. 

The Anti-Ableism and Accessibility Speaker Series features disability studies scholars and activists who work at the intersections of critical disability studies, Indigenous Studies, Black Studies and Queer studies.

The first speaker in the series took place on November 24 with Rheanna Robinson, associate professor in the Department of First Nations Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia, shared how Indigenous knowledges and worldviews can transform the understanding of disability in Canada and around the world. Upcoming presentations include:

  • “Disability, Revolution? Access, Intersectionality, and Resistance in Disability Culture” Presenter: Robert McRuer, Professor of English at George Washington University
  • “A Manifesto for a Disability Justice in Academia” Presenter: Agnès Berthelot-Raffard, Associate Professor of Critical Disability Studies, School of Healthy Policy and Management, York University

Another important initiative within the project is a survey of our UM community.  All UM students, staff, and faculty members who identify as disabled or as managing chronic health conditions are invited to take part in the Dismantling Ableism: Institutional Action and Accountability online survey.  

The purpose of the survey is to identify systemic ableist inequities to guide institutional action, including the development of an anti-ableism policy. The survey has been designed to collect disaggregated data, which will allow a better understanding of the diversity of disability experiences within our community. 

Survey invitations were recently emailed to all UM students, staff, and faculty. If you missed the initial email invitation but would like to participate, please check your inbox or contact the survey director, Jennifer Dengate, Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Research & Projects at Jennifer [dot] Dengate [at] umanitoba [dot] ca. The survey will be open until early December.

To find out more about how the University of Manitoba is working to dismantle ableism, and advance equity, diversity, inclusion and access for all members of our community, visit the Office of Equity Transformation.

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