Cultural and disability groups partner to improve accessibility at events

Local Indigenous groups are partnering with a provincial disability organization to start meeting accessibility standards for cultural events.

The Full Moon Partners is a collaboration between multiple Indigenous groups and community organizations. It has recently brought in a new partnership with the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities to help make cultural events more accessible for people with disabilities.

They gathered at The Forks Saturday evening, celebrating this month’s Full Moon Ceremony.

“The purpose of this event is just to start that journey of combining Indigenous communities and organizations with disability communities and organizations, and building those relationships together,”said executive director of Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities, Melissa Graham.

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Melanie Marsden is an Indigenous woman from Toronto who said she was told she would never be able to participate in a Full Moon Ceremony because she is visually impaired. She believes groups coming together to improve accessibility is crucial for more people to feel included in cultural events.

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“I just encourage people to take the time, that if you know someone in your community that may have varying gifts and abilities, to show them how to do a powwow, to show them how to do a round dance,” said Marsden.

Louise McKay is an Elder at the Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg who is pleased with the collaboration efforts. Marsden hopes this helps more people get involved with their culture, “We have to give more thought to those people that cant come to some of our events, can’t come and be with us at certain times because we don’t make those allowances.”

With help from MLPD and new grant funding, the group will be able to start holding ceremonies in more accessible venues and bring in extra supports like American Sign Language interpreters.

National ‘AccessAbility Week 2024’ runs from May 26 to June 1.

— With files from Katherine Dornian.

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