Seeing abilities
through disabilities

CCDS is guided by and works out of the values of inclusion, equality and participation. Our vision of “seeing abilities through disabilities” draws upon the lens of intersectionality*, and inclusion* throughout partnership activities with disability stakeholders (i.e. disability community, advocates, service providers, corporate sector, researchers—academic and community, government—international, federal, provincial, territorial, local, and civil society).  CCDS continually evaluates its collective impact in enhancing the lived experiences of persons living with disabilities, including mental health and circles of support (i.e. families, partners, etc.) in communities throughout Canada and abroad.


The emerging research, policy and [practice] policy paradigm which seeks to reveal the complex interactions among multiple social categories (e.g., gender, race, class, culture, age, ability, sexuality) and ...


...the systems and processes of domination and oppression (e.g., sexism, racism, classism, colonialism, ageism, ableism, homophobia) that simultaneously produce experiences of discrimination and privilege.


­— Hankivsky and Cormier, 2009

Social inclusion is the manner of understanding and engaging communities with a vision of promoting equity and providing opportunity to persons from all circumstances. It is a multidimensional concept that facilitates inclusion from a variety of fronts including increase of employment, elimination of poverty, enabling civic engagement, elimination of discrimination and the promotion of access to public resources.


­— Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC)




  • Frameworks often do not acknowledge that people simultaneously experience both inclusion and exclusion in varying contexts and at varying times throughout their lives.
  • Leads to the notion that social exclusion affects “certain kinds of people” which then reinforces stigma.
  • Often does not take into account how exclusion is resisted by individuals and communities.


­— Morrow & Hardie, 2014



  • Recognizes that experiences of social exclusion are multiple and diverse and shift over time.
  • Recognizes that experiences of social exclusion are not just tied to any one system but to sexism, racism, heterosexism, ableism, sanism and how these power relations interact in people’s lives.
  • Illuminates social and structural factors that influence health and well-being.
  • Reveals the complex realities of individuals with multiple vulnerabilities.
  • Provides critical thought about the epistemological significance of lived experiences.


­— Morrow & Hardie, 2014



  • Miguel Aguayo

    Acting Chairperson

    Toronto, Ontario

    Miguel has extensive experience in career management strategies for people with disabilities and is extensive. He is currently a Senior Program Advisor with the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) responsible for leading projects that help create employment opportunities for people with disabilities, has previously led diversity recruitment for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and managed an employment resource centre, as well as provided case management.


    He conducted research on the psychosocial rehabilitation process for people with acquired disabilities, is co-author of Deafened People: Adjustment and Support and authored Rehabilitation of Deafened Adults: A Puzzle with Missing Pieces.  Miguel has a Masters of Social Work degree, a Masters Certificate in Public Management and a Human Resources Management Certificate.

  • Maria Fernanda Arentsen

    Winnipeg, Manitoba

    Maria is Associate Professor at the Université de Saint-Boniface, where her research focuses on the representations of persons with disabilities in Quebec literature. Her current research engages Postcolonial, Feminist, and Critical Disability Studies, to examine the experience of persons with physical disabilities as a minority.


    Maria has received several institutional research grants and has several academic and public publications on representations of disability. Her current project, funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Gran is entitled, The Body Injured in Quebec and Canadian French-speaking Literatures between 1945 and 2015.


    Maria is the Bilingual Coordinator for the Canadian Association of Disability Studies (CDSA), in which she has established a network of Quebec, Canadian and International francophone researchers. She is also a Board Member of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies (CCDS) and the Saint-Amant Institution. In addition to her research activities, Maria is engaged in the Franco-Manitoban community and plays an active role within the community.

  • Katie Aubrecht


    Halifax, Nova Scotia

    Katie Aubrecht, PhD, is Associate Editor Forums of Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal and former President of the Canadian Disability Studies Association - Association Canadienne des Études sur l’Incapacité. She holds a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging, Mount Saint Vincent University, where she works as Research Coordinator and adjunct professor and teaches graduate courses with the Department of Family Studies and Gerontology.


    Katie’s research and teaching uses interpretive sociological theories and methods and an intersectional disability studies perspective to examine care relationships across the lifespan, with a focus on mental health and illness.



  • Alexis Davis

    Vancouver, British Columbia

    Alexis is a paediatric occupational therapist in Vancouver, BC. Her volunteer work coordinating a disability & rehabilitation training project in Ladakh, northern India led to postgraduate training in global health & development in the UK. As a UBC clinical assistant professor, Alexis' role as a clinical supervisor maintains her academic research interests.


    With CCDS, Alexis is interested in increasing CCDS' national presence and in supporting more global disability partnerships. She has been a board member since 2011.

  • Peter Dunn

    Dundas, Ontario

    Peter A. Dunn, PhD has recently retired as an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University. He received his PhD from Brandeis University; Advanced Diploma and MSW from the University of Toronto; and B.A. from the University of Massachusetts.


    He has been involved in five national research projects about disAbility policies which emphasize human rights funded through SSHRC. His writing includes the areas of disability policies, social exclusion, poverty, social housing and holism. He is currently writing an edited book about holistic healing. He is an enthusiastic dancer, social justice advocate and pet lover.

  • Ernie Kowalec


    Calgary, Alberta

    Ernie is an Executive Member and Treasurer of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies. He is a former graduate of the University of Winnipeg, and has a long history of working with and advocating for minority populations in Canada, including persons with disabilities. Ernie lives in Calgary, Alberta where he is employed at Scotiabank as a Small Business Manager.

  • Flora Marcelo

    Guelph, Ontario

    Flora considers herself a social justice advocate. Her desire to work with the disenfranchised was expressed by the completion of her PhD in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University. She aspires to effect change in the policies and procedures that surround restraining orders—to increase effectiveness against domestic violence while creating an overall better experience for women.


    Her need to act as a change agent stems from her childhood—as a sibling to a younger brother living with Down’s Syndrome.  At an early age, Flora became acutely aware of her role to challenge the formal structures that could dictate his life—while creating new and innovative ways for him to exist as an active, engaged and empowered member of society. She happily chose to undertake this life-long pursuit.

  • Anne McGuire

    Toronto, Ontario

    Anne McGuire is an Assistant Professor in the Equity Studies Program at New College, University of Toronto. Her teaching and research draw on interpretive perspectives in disability studies and cultural studies and focus on questions of human vitality and precarity. McGuire’s book, War on Autism: On the Cultural Logic of Normative Violence (2016, University of Michigan Press), was awarded the 2016 Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities. Her current research project traces the emergence of broad spectrum approaches to health and illness and reads these against the backdrop of neoliberal social and economic policies.



We are committed to credible, authentic and transparent approaches and outcomes.


We strive for innovative ideas, practices and policies individually and collectively.


We value all individuals for their knowledge and unique contributions.


We embrace and facilitate inclusion and intersectionality*.


We are dedicated to achieving distinction in all aspects of our mission.