This week we were in Ottawa for the National Youth Forum of Accessible Canada. Approximately 150 young people from across the country, with all types of abilities, gathered at Calrton University to discuss what an accessible Canada should be. This consultation process is part of the Government of Canada’s initiative to shape the country’s accessibility legislation.

We are thrilled to contribute to this important consultation process and look forward to seeing how the new federal legislation on accessibility will shape our nation. Highlights include Justin Trudeau’s in-person address, Luca Lazylegz Patuelli‘s performance, and the personal remarks made by Minister Carla Qualtrough.

Justin Trudeau delivers address in front of accessible canada banners

“Accessibility is an investment we are making for the success of Canada” said Trudeau as he answered questions from the audience.

“We need people to dream about a better world. How this government responds to your views about what’s important — not just over the next couple years, or the next election cycle, but for the next decade and generation — will help us remain focused on what really matters.”

Qualtrough’s address was personal and powerful. She shared her experiences growing up as someone legally blind, and expressed her passionate motivation to remove barriers for all people with disabilities.

“Everyone must benefit from same opportunities. Like everyone else, people with disabilities should have choice” said Qualtrough. “We know we can do better to support people with disabilities. It’s about citizenship. The legislation we are planning will change the way federal government will approach accessibility.”

Luca Lazylegz Patuelli also contributed, sharing his story in the dance world, and demonstrating what “no excuses, no limits” is all about.

What really blew us away, beyond Trudeau and Qualtrough’s involvement in the forum was the powerful insight shared by young Canadians who live with disabilities across the country. We heard so many different perspectives about some of the barriers that exist in different provinces in Canada. We connected with influential leaders who have been dedicated to advocacy in their own communities, and discussed potential solutions to remove barriers.

This forum provided an opportunity for us to connect, to learn, and to share…and really, these are the actions we believe can truly create meaningful change. In working together, and raising our voices as a united collective, we are optimistic about what the future of access brings.

panorama of the national youth forum delegates as trudeau answers questions

Photo by Chris Roussakis, Carlton University.