Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

The Celebrating Abilities event, although not without some challenges, in CFNCD's opinion was a huge success on many levels.  Goals set early in the planning stages were met in terms of sponsorship, attendance and workshop content.  For the first time ever in northern Manitoba, an event of this focus and size was held and attended by 113 participants over a very inspiring three days and CF North Central Development was pleased to be the local coordinating partner. 

Held at the Thompson Regional Community Centre in Thompson October 8th & 9th (with preconference activities happening at the Juniper Centre and School District of Mystery Lake board office on October 7th) the event was as inclusive as possible.  Events highlights include: 

  • 113 participants (from Thompson, Brandon, Minnedosa, Winnipeg, The Pas, Split Lake, Flin Flon, Norway House, OCN and Oxford House) over 3 full days.
  • Information on the new accessibility legislation and ideas for customer service standards presented spoke to a shift in thinking on how simple it can be to be inclusive. 
  • Kristopher Blake from People First Thompson Chapter was an amazing Emcee. 
  • The event included two panel sessions with self-advocates, you could hear a pin drop in the room when particiapnts told their life stories and a few tears were shed, all stories ended on a positive note and we're confident that all who participated were inspired and motivated!
  • Many of the speakers who travelled to Thompson made "northern tours" shouldering the event, taking in as many meetings and presentations as possible. 
  • The event was as inclusive as possible!  ASL interpretation was provided throughout as was note taking.  The Thompson Regional Community Centre was the perfect location and many positive comments were made about Thompson's beautiful new accessible facility (elevator access to the 2nd floor, push button doors, ramp for stage, washroom entrances, etc). Options were provided for food allergies. 
  • Because of the generous event sponsors, the planning committee was able to pull together a bursary pool and provide subsidized registratios to delegates interested in attending for whom cost may have been a barrier.
  • Breakout sessions on entrepreneurship as an option, vocational training and assisted employment and other resources and services available.  Not to mention informative pre-conference and evening sessions. 
  • Conversations recognizing the demand for services in the north and the wide range of barriers to employment and quality of life (physical disabilities, mental health, addictions, intellectual and learning disabilities) and how to focus on strengths. 
  • FemNorthNet / School of Social Work research conducted in 29 one-on-one interviews with women with disabilities and service providers regarding experiences northern women have had with access in the north. 
  • The event was a collaboration between Community Living MB, the Aboriginal Business Service Network, Community Futures MB, Community Futures North Central Development, Disabilities Issues Office, Education Solutions Manitoba, FemNorthNet, Innovative LIfe Options, Juniper Centre, Society for Manitobans with Disabilities Northern Regional Office.
  • Sponsorship upwards of $35,000 (both in-kind and cash) made the event possible!


Community Futures North Central Development has historically had access to project funding ($4,000) on an annual basis centered around capacity building for entrepreneurs with disabilities.  Past projects have included:

  • Disability Awareness Workshops (Youth)
  • Accessible Website Project 
  • EDP Marketing projects 
  • Frank O'Dea presentation as part of annual provincial Community Futures conference (September 2011)
  • A partnership with CMHA on the Mental Health week presentations (May 2012)
  • A one-day conference centered around resources in northern Manitoba for persons with disabilities titled What's in Your Future (October 2012)