NEADS Community Engagement Meeting, Friday, March 12, 2021: 3:00 pm 4:00 pm Guest Speakers: Dr. Nancy Hansen, Taylor Hyatt, Roxana Jahani Aval to Focus A Disability Human Rights Lens on Bill C-7 (MAID)

Moderated by Chloée C. Godin-Jacques, 2nd Vice-Chair/Ontario Director, National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), and Jewelles Smith, Communications and Government Relations Coordinator, Council of Canadians With Disabilities (CCD)

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) will be co-hosting a NEADS Community Engagement event on Bill C-7: An act to amend the Criminal Code (Medical Aid in Dying (MAID)) on Friday, March 12, 2021 from 3:00 pm -4:00 pm ET on Zoom. Register for this event online.

If you are wondering why UN officials on disability, poverty and seniors and human rights have sounded an international alarm about Bill C-7, join the March 12 Community Engagement event for a conversation with five leading disability rights activists who will provide an intersectional analysis of the proposed legislative reform.  The objective of Bill C-7 is to make MAID available to people with disabilities, who are not facing an imminent death.  The imminent death criteria, a safeguard demanded by people with disabilities, is being taken away. The Minister of Justice, the Hon. Mr. Lametti, claims he is listening to people with disabilities.  Disability rights advocates hold that the federal government has ignored concerns expressed by our community, particularly the voices of BIPOC people with disabilities.  University of Windsor law student Roxana Jahani Aval, in collaboration with other students, launched a petition titled “Kill Bill C-7”, which says it all.

In Canada, people with disabilities face a disproportionate level of poverty and disability-related supports are often not readily available to enable people with disabilities to live independently in the community. Instead of promoting independent living by people with disabilities, with Bill C-7 Canadian legislators are making it easier for people with disabilities to end our lives.  Bill C-7, if passed, is a threat to the human rights of persons with disabilities, which Canada pledged to uphold when it ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and will intensify negative stereotypes about disability.

Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons and Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights have written a letter advising that Bill C-7, if passed, would violate a number of international human rights protections. These UN experts are concerned that Bill C-7 will reinforce the ableist view that “it is better to be dead than to live with a disability.”

During the event panelists will elaborate the discriminatory aspects of Bill C-7 and engage with participants in a discussion of how to participate in the resistance against this dangerous reform.

About the Speakers

Dr. Nancy Hansen:

Dr. Nancy Hansen, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Director since of the Interdisciplinary Master's Program in Disability Studies at the University of Manitoba. Nancy obtained a PhD (Human Geography) from the University of Glasgow. Her research interests in disability studies are varied including; disability in spaces of culture education, literacy, social policy, employment healthcare access and experiences of disabled and LGBTQ communities in post-conflict areas. Nancy is a former member of the Member of the Canadian Association of University Teachers' Working Group, Academics with Disabilities and Equity Committee and a former President and founding member of the Canadian Disability Studies Association.

Taylor Hyatt:

Taylor Hyatt has been involved in disability policy since 2015, including advising a parliamentarian on his response to Bill C-14 as it was being written. Ms. Hyatt's interest in bioethics grew out of her personal experience with disability. Ms. Hyatt is a member of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities’ Ending-of-Life Ethics Committee. She served as Policy Analyst at Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet from 2017-early 2020. Her articles and interviews have appeared on CBC, Global News, and the Ottawa Citizen. She has a BA in Linguistics (minors: Psychology & Communications) from Carleton University in 2016.

Roxana Jahani Aval:

Roxana Jahani Aval is a second year law student at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law where she is pursuing her Juris Doctorate degree. As a young Iranian woman, Roxana continuously advocates for young voices to be heard in the disability rights movement. Roxana is the Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, a national cross-disability not-for-profit organization that advocates the rights of persons with disabilities both nationally and internationally. This work includes decades of litigation work in public interest law reform. As the Past-Chair and Member-at-Large of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students, she works closely with post-secondary students to acquire accommodations, to promote accessibility on campus, and to aid students in accessing resources. Roxana received two Bachelor of Arts degrees from York University in Psychology, as well as Human Rights and Equity Studies, graduating with the highest distinction. She received the Marilyn Nearing Award for Outstanding Community Service from the York Support Network in York Region, Ontario. In addition to her volunteer work and education, Roxana is an artist, photographer, and active Iranian community member in Toronto, Ontario. She plans on pursuing a career at the Crown attorney’s office.

About the Moderators

Chloée C. Godin-Jacques:

Chloée C. Godin-Jacques is second year Master’s student at Queen’s University, where she is currently examining the intersectionality of disability and queerness in international development practices. Chloée is involved in various community engagement initiatives as a disabled advocate, especially within the realms of her positions at NEADS. She is also a disabled social entrepreneur and has launched a few ventures to generate awareness about topics in relation to accessibility, disability, and the intersection between disability and queerness.

Jewelles Smith:

Jewelles Smith, is the Communications and Government Relations Coordinator, Council of Canadians With Disabilities (CCD). She is a highly regarded Canadian human rights expert.  The Government of Canada appointed Jewelles as a member of the Canadian delegation that took part in the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), which occurred in New York City in March 2019.  The disability community included Ms. Smith in the 2017 delegation that appeared before the UN Committee on the CRPD in Geneva for the first review of Canada. Jewelles is a PhD student at University of British Columbia Okanagan. Her dissertation will document narratives of disabled mothers in Canada from a human rights perspective.


Since its founding in 1986, the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), has had the mandate to support full access to education and employment for post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities across Canada.

NEADS is a consumer-controlled, cross-disability charitable organization. We represent our constituents through specific projects, resources, research, publications and partnerships. NEADS is governed by a national Board of Directors representative of all of the provinces and territories.

About CCD

CCD is a national human rights organization of people with disabilities working for an inclusive and accessible Canada.


The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is a social justice organization of people with all disabilities that champions the voices of people with disabilities, advocating an inclusive and accessible Canada, where people with disabilities have full realization of their human rights, as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) unites advocacy organizations of people with disabilities to defend and extend human rights for persons with disabilities through public education, advocacy, intervention in litigation, research, consultation and partnerships.  CCD amplifies the expertise of our partners by acting as a convening body and consensus builder.