Raising awareness of disability issues: StFX celebrating Access Awareness Week

access awareness

As mentioned in StFX’s Strategic Plan 2023-2028: Building Our university the way it is meant to be, “we are committed to identifying, preventing, and removing barriers to accessibility for persons with disabilities and individuals who experience barriers to equal access within our living, learning, and working environment.”

As such, St. Francis Xavier University will be leading and partnering on a number of activities next week as part of Access Awareness Week Nova Scotia, running May 26th to June 1st. The week is designed to raise awareness of disability issues and work to remove barriers. 

This year's theme is "Communities for All: Taking Action on Access Awareness." All are invited to participate.  

Events kick off with a proclamation ceremony at noon on Monday, May 27th at the East Coast Credit Union Social Enterprise Centre at 75 St. Ninian Street. The ceremony will launch a week of activities and recognize local accessibility advocates and champions.

This event is sponsored by StFX University, in partnership with the Town of Antigonish, the Municipality of the County of Antigonish, Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, Canadian Association of Community Living Antigonish, L'Arche Antigonish and the Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia.

The East Coast Credit Union Social Enterprise Centre is an accessible venue with free parking adjacent to the building. The event will be recorded and shared publicly with captions. Attendees are asked to refrain from wearing scents.

The proclamation ceremony will acknowledge provincial Mel Hebb Awards recipients, Municipality of the County of Antigonish Councilor Gary Mattie and Antigonish artist and accessibility advocate Anne Camozzi, who is also leading a workshop on Art as Accessibility at The People’s Place: Antigonish Town and County Library on Wednesday.

The program of events was developed out of a planning meeting in April that involved over 20 people from across the university and Antigonish town and county. One of the planning group members, StFX sociology professor and Canada Research Chair Dr. Katie Aubrecht, says the Nova Scotia League of Equal Opportunities notes that Access Awareness Week Nova Scotia is driven by a single goal; to change the narrative for persons with disabilities by doing our part in raising awareness and taking action on disability issues. 

The events and initiatives hosted during this week are informed by first voice using a disability lens to ensure inclusion and accessibility for everyone.

The week aims to foster an environment of equitable participation for persons with disabilities and bring attention to the importance of removing barriers for people with disabilities. The pioneering work of the disability community has made significant advances, but much work remains to fully recognize the rights of all Nova Scotians and create a barrier-free province by 2030. 

All are invited to participate in other events through the week, including:

Webinar: Equity and Accessibility
Tuesday, May 28 from 12-1:30 p.m.
Registration Link
ASL interpretation and Zoom captioning provided. 
An online panel exploring the meaning of accessibility from an equity perspective and discussing promising directions in equity-oriented accessibility work, featuring Dr. Wendy Mackey, associate professor of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Leadership in the Faculty of Education at StFX, Dr. Emmanuel Banchani, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at StFX, and Liza Arnason, founder of ASE Community Foundation for Black Canadians with Disabilities.


Webinar: Human Rights, Disability and Accessibility
Thursday, May 30 from 12-1:30 p.m.
Registration Link
ASL interpretation and Zoom captioning provided.
An online panel conversation intended to raise awareness of human rights issues related to disability and accessibility, and some ways these issues are being addressed, featuring Tamara Powell, Human Rights Education and Response Advocate at StFX, Dr. Tammy Bernasnky, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, Cape Breton University, and Sheila Wildeman, associate professor of law and associate director of the Health Law Institute in the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University.

may 30

Keynote Conversation: Academic Ableism and Its Alternatives
Friday, May 31 from 12-1 p.m. 
Registration link
ASL interpretation and Zoom captioning provided.
This interactive talk by Dr. Jay Dolmage will explore ableism in higher education and discuss strategies and tools to support accessible classrooms and campuses. Introduction and facilitation by Dr. Erin Austen, associate professor and Chair, StFX Department of Psychology.

Dr. Dolmage is committed to disability rights in his scholarship, service, and teaching. He is professor and Chair of the English Department at University of Waterloo, founding editor of the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, and author of Disability Rhetoric (Syracuse University Press, 2014), Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education (Michigan University Press, 2017), and Disabled Upon Arrival: Eugenics, Immigration, and the Construction of Race and Disability (Ohio State University Press, 2018).


In addition to these events, the official Access Awareness Week flag will be raised at Chisholm Park and Alumni Plaza on the StFX campus. 

More information about Access Awareness Week and events happening in Antigonish and across the province is available HERE.