Expanding the Circle is a project undertaken by Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI) that focuses on expanding the conversation about what access to human rights looks like for Indigenous, First Nations, Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis people with disabilitiesin Canada. DRPI has engaged indigenous peoples in many of its projects including New Zealand and Bolivia. It is important that the Canadian indigenous experience be added to this search for knowledge where the rights of people have been neglected. Indigenous, First Nations, Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis people experience disproportionately high levels of disability compared to other Canadians. Indigenous, First Nations, Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis people with disabilities historically, and at present, experience exclusion and various forms of discrimination. This discrimination may take place at the level of individual interactions, but people may also experience discrimination at a higher, systemic level, by their needs not properly being addressed in laws, policies and budgets. This project uses an intersectional point of view, to understand the experiences of people with disabilities who are also Indigenous, First Nations, Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis and considers the unique challenges and victories this population experiences in accessing rights.
Expanding the Circle considers the rights outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in conversation with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). International human rights legislation not only focuses on specific rights, but also highlights five general human rights principles. These key principles: dignity; autonomy; participation, inclusion and accessibility; non-discrimination and equity; and respect for difference were considered in relation to areas of people’s lives: social participation; health; education, work and privacy and family life, information & communications; access to justice; and income security and support services. This report combines two aspects of this project, first-hand experience through interviews, as well as an analysis that is based on a review of laws, policies, programmes and budgets to have a larger context to understand people’s lived experiences.