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Empowering Persons with Disabilities at the Canadian Multicultural Disability Centre

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At the heart of the Canadian Multicultural Disability Centre Inc. (CMDCI), Marcia Matanga serves as the community wellness coordinator, spearheading initiatives that enhance the skills of individuals with disabilities and foster a sense of community, understanding, and celebration of diversity. 

“We also enhance the skills of persons with disabilities, whether it be job networking, health resources, benefits, or literacy within the community. That’s exciting. I am by myself. I need to walk,” Matanga shares, emphasizing the importance of empowerment and inclusivity. 

Navigating the processes might pose some difficulties, but Matanga notes the positive reception the initiatives have received. The CMDCI runs various programs throughout the year, aiming to engage and support people with disabilities in multifaceted ways. 

At the core of CMDCI’s mission is the belief that disability is a natural phenomenon, a thing of beauty to be enhanced and celebrated. Matanga sheds light on the challenges faced by those with disabilities, especially newcomers to Canada, who already grapple with the profound changes in their way of life. 

“Disability can be seen as you get ostracized, or you don’t get a lot of the same help, especially if you are new to Canada,” Matanga explains, highlighting the added difficulties faced by individuals adjusting to a new culture. 

With CMDCI being a stalwart presence for many years, Matanga acknowledges the continuous efforts to secure funding. While the organization has been successful in obtaining substantial support, Matanga emphasizes that the work is ongoing and driven by the ever-present need to help those in the community. 

Discussing the multifaceted nature of disabilities, Matanga underscores the existence of visible and invisible disabilities. She brings attention to the often-overlooked mental health disabilities that may go unnoticed, particularly in newcomers. 

“We work with families and provide more information and understanding,” says Matanga, emphasizing the need for awareness and education within communities. There’s a commitment to breaking down stigmas associated with disabilities, especially those deeply rooted in cultural beliefs. 

Matanga is passionate about dispelling misconceptions surrounding disabilities, especially in communities where they might be viewed as taboo or even linked to superstitions. She tirelessly works towards creating awareness and providing support, ensuring that families understand that disability is a natural phenomenon, not a source of shame or stigma. 

Through a range of programs catering to all ages, Matanga and the CMDCI team strive not just for education but also for an enjoyable and inclusive experience. By fostering a supportive environment, they aim to address not only the needs of individuals with disabilities but also those of their caregivers, acknowledging the unique challenges they face. 

Matanga’s dedication to inclusive community wellness stands as a beacon of hope, driving positive change and fostering a more understanding and compassionate society. 

– Yuliia Kovalenko, U Multicultural

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