For Indigenous Disability Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight some of the work our Prairie Regional Office has done with Indigenous people with disabilities and communities in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba.
“Approximately 60% of our participants in all of the urban centres in the region are from Indigenous descent, but we have specifically targeted rural and remote Indigenous bands to work with. They don’t have many other options, especially for digital literacy in our region,” explains Prairie Regional Manager Nikki Langdon, who has worked with Neil Squire for over 18 years.
Through our partnership with the Gary Tinker Federation (new window), we’ve worked with bands and participants from: Grandmother’s Bay, Cumberland House, La Ronge, Air Ronge, Little Red River Cree Nation, Big River, Pinehouse Lake, Sucker River, Stanley Mission, Buffalo Narrows, Île-à-la-Crosse, File Hills Qu’appelle Region, Ocean Man First Nation, Cote First Nation, Key First Nation, Montreal Lake, and the Prince Albert region. Our Prairie Regional Office also has a strong connection with the Métis Regional Offices in Saskatchewan and Rupertsland in Alberta serving Métis individuals.
Through digital literacy programs like Computer Comfort and Digital Jumpstart, we provide training and equipment for participants, including laptops and wi-fi, as well as provide access to assistive technology and ergonomic supports.
“We have donated a lot of technology to remote and rural Indigenous communities — especially during the pandemic to minimize isolation in these communities,” Nikki explains.
“We have partnerships with the schools in First Nations Bands to provide needed assistive technology and training to the teachers in how to use AT to help the students maximize their learning.”
Through employment programs like Working Together and Group Employment Skills, our Prairie Regional Office offers employment skills training, in one-on-one and group sessions, as well as soft skills training in the area of wellness for work. Program participants also receive supports in furthering their education.
An important aspect is supporting both the participant and their community, in particular by connecting with local employment opportunities to keep participants and business local. And a big part of the process is ensuring ties and understanding of these communities.
Many Indigenous participants have been impacted by residential school trauma and other sorts of prejudicial trauma that impacts them. Participants often face stigma with some employers.
“We hire staff in the form of program assistants from each community to have local cultural and language supports for each client, as well as contribute employment opportunities within their home community,” explains Nikki.
“Supporting rural and remote individuals, which in this province includes a high number of Indigenous communities and participants, has always been a priority for me and this organization,” says Nikki. “We are constantly reaching out to band offices throughout Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba sharing new programs and opportunities.”
If you would like to learn more about our programs and services for people with disabilities in Saskatchewan, Alberta, or Manitoba, or our work with Indigenous communities in this region, please contact Neil Squire Prairie Regional Manager, Nikki Langdon at 1-844-860-6023, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
November is Indigenous Disability Awareness Month (IDAM). Indigenous peoples of Canada experience a disability rate significantly higher than that of the general population. IDAM brings awareness of these barriers and the issues that Indigenous peoples living with disabilities and their families face every day.