Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

Advice and support service targeted to indigenous populations

The British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS), an NGO based in the city of Victoria, works to advance the disability and health priorities of Indigenous persons across the province of British Columbia and Canada. BCANDS provides free advice and support to any person with a disability-related query, but with a focus on the unique needs of Indigenous populations. The organization acts as a liaison among service agencies to help persons with disabilities to access mobility equipment, adaptive technology, state benefits, housing, and more. In 2017, BCANDS supported over 1,700 people in accessing local or national services.

“BCANDS has been recognized nationally and internationally for their work, leadership and collaborations. Through their efforts, BCANDS has raised the priority of Indigenous disability in Canada to a level not seen prior.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Indigenous disability services
Organisation:BCANDS (British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society)
of Implementation


  • BCANDS assisted 1,767 clients in 2017–2018, up from 852 in 2015–2016.
  • With BCANDS assistance, 646 people with disabilities are now participating in the government Registered Disability Savings Plans.


Indigenous Canadians with disabilities may find themselves marginalized and isolated, with limited access to disability-related services.


BCANDS promotional stand.

BCANDS helps persons with disabilities and their families identify additional supports that they may be entitled to or ones that they were unaware of. The organization then takes the lead role in coordinating with service providers to complete applications and to access various services and benefits. BCANDS targets indigenous populations, but makes no restriction on age, gender, identification, Indigenous ancestry, disability, or location within the province. Most of its cases are state benefit applications, but it also provides disability case management and supports large numbers of clients in taking advantage of the government Registered Disability Savings Plan, which helps Canadians with disabilities save for the future.

The number of clients has doubled between 2015–2016 and 2017–2018, with over 1,700 people now being assisted annually. BCANDS’s role has also expanded, having taken an advisory role with government bodies on many new disability initiatives, including efforts to increase benefits and to streamline the benefit process for indigenous populations in British Columbia.


Due to the growth in demand for services, BCANDS is currently hiring new case managers and support staff; and it is the in early stages of replication across Canada, with proposals for services in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario.

The project relies on federal (44 per cent), provincial (13 per cent), and foundation (43 per cent) funding to carry out its services, with a budget of $663,000 for the 2018–2019 fiscal year. In addition, it has submitted further funding proposals relating to indigenous disability.


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