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Generous Futures: Advancing Disability Rights

January 31, 2022
1:00 PM EST - 2:00 PM EST
Laura Greflund, Alumni Relations Officer,
Generous Futures: Advancing Disability Rights

How can we create a more inclusive and accessible Canada? What are some of the socially-made barriers that exclude and harm people with disabilities? How do traditional systems of philanthropy and funding models perpetuate inequalities for people with disabilities? How do decisions around funding centre or exclude the voices and experiences of those most affected? Join our panel who will explore these questions and the role philanthropy plays in advancing disability rights.


Esther Ignagni

Esther Ignagni, Director, School of Disability Studies, Toronto Metropolitan University


Fran Odette, Instructor, George Brown College; Disability Activist and Educator

Fran Odette, Instructor, George Brown College; Disability Activist and Educator

Taylor Lindsay-Noel, Founder & CEO, Cup of Té

Taylor Lindsay-Noel, Founder & CEO, Cup of Té

Vim Kochhar, Chair, Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons

The Hon. Vim Kochhar, Chair, Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons


Esther Ignagni draws from work, academic and lived experiences with disability to inform her current role as director and associate professor at the School of Disability Studies. Since obtaining her PhD from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto in 2010, she has taught in the School in the areas of critical social theory of disability, body-mind difference and the state. Her current research explores the relationships between death, dying and disability in the advent of Canadian Medical Assistance in Dying legislation. More generally, Ignagni’s research explores intimate citizenship: how disabled people create families and kinship, parent children, exercise reproductive rights and intimate justice within and against dis/ableist cultures. Her methodological commitments extend to arts and critical design approaches, including the use of digital video, forum theatre and design fiction to reimagine disabled/mad/Deaf/sick selves, bodies, communities and worlds as vital and valuable. Before she obtained her PhD in Public Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, she worked across a variety of community, activist and clinical settings.

Fran Odette is a feminist and disability rights activist for over 25 years, with a focus on the intersections between gender, disability and sexualities. Fran brings a wealth of knowledge on the issues for survivors of gender-based violence through her research, writing and programming in agencies working to end violence against women. 

Fran worked in services focused on gender-based violence with a particular focus on violence against women and children with disabilities. In addition, Fran has been involved in working on issues related to disability and sex-positivity, providing training to sexual health providers and people with disabilities. Much of Fran’s activist work has been in collaboration with agencies that work with marginalized communities, including engagement and collaborative work within women’s shelters, homeless shelters, legal and counseling services in the GTA and across the province. 

As a trainer/educator, Fran's work has been supporting service providers in building capacity to make the linkages needed to ensure that persons with disabilities, inclusive of gender identity and sexualities to have access to services. Fran co-authored with Cory Silverberg and Dr. Miriam Kaufman, a book entitled The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability — For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain and Illness (*Cleis Press). Fran teaches at George Brown College since 2008 and is faculty in the Assaulted Women and Children Counselor Advocate Program, Social Service Worker Program. She co-developed and teaches two critical disability issues courses entitled Disability Discourse: The Experienced Life and Discourses in Disability: Implications for SSW Practice.

Taylor Lindsay-Noel is a 27-year-old entrepreneur from Toronto, Ontario Canada. 12 years ago she was a Canadian national gymnast but in 2008 under the coercion of her coach she had a devastating accident that instantly paralyzed her from the neck down for life. Since then Taylor has persevered through adversity and has received a BA in Radio and Television Arts from Toronto Metropolitan University. She is currently balancing being a motivational speaker, disability advocate, council member of the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity and owner of Cup of Té Luxury Loose Leaf Teas which was just featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things List 2020! She recently was also announced as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Black Business and Professional Association Harry Jerome Awards, Canada’s most prestigious award celebrating black excellence.

From January 29, 2010 to September 21, 2011, The Hon. Vim Kochhar served in the Senate of Canada, where he was a member of the Committees on Banking, Trade and Commerce and Human Rights. He was an inaugural Trustee, Chair of the Content Committee, and team member helping to raise 167 million dollars for Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights which opened in 2014.

In retirement, he continues his life’s work of removing barriers, empowering and helping disabled adults to achieve equality as the full-time volunteer Chair & CEO of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons, an organization he founded and directs with the aid of a board. In the last 35 years, Vim has raised over $35 million to assist those with disabilities while working tirelessly to increase public awareness about the achievements and capabilities of physically disabled Canadians. He was an early pioneer and driving force behind the growth of the Canadian Paralympics. His ground-breaking work in Canada on behalf of people who are deaf-blind includes advocacy, funding and development of the Rotary-Cheshire/Canadian Helen Keller Centre, the first residence of its kind in Canada equipped for independent, barrier free living for deaf-blind adults.

The Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons mounts annual fundraisers that include the Great Valentine Gala and the Rolling Rampage on Parliament Hill for elite wheelchair athletes. Other CFPDP initiatives include the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, Canadian Disability Hall of Fame and the 1996 cross-Canada WhyNot Marathon for the Paralympics. 

Vim’s work for disabled adults is solely on a non-paid, volunteer basis as his way of returning something to Canada, the country that gave him the opportunity to succeed. Born in India and educated in the United States, Vim graduated in engineering from the University of Texas and became a successful businessman and entrepreneur building structures around the world for Intercontinental Hotels. He immigrated to Canada in 1967 and became a Canadian citizen in 1974. For Bechtel, he project managed the construction of medical science buildings at the University of Toronto and at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He was also responsible for moving the historic 300-tonne Campbell House on a trolley at 500 feet per hour through Toronto streets to its present location at Queen and University.

In 1972 he launched a business manufacturing custom-made furniture and selling it through his own chain of Early Canadian Furniture stores, which developed into a multimillion-dollar enterprise.

In addition to his work for disabled adults, Vim has long been involved with Scouts Canada, serving in various capacities and as President from 1992-1994, and with Rotary Club of Canada and Variety Village. He continues to contribute to the Senate as a director of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians and the CAFP Educational Foundation.

Among his distinctions, Vim was chosen by India Abroad as one of the 30 most influential Canadians of Indian origin. CARP has listed him as one of the top 25 Canadians over 45 who have contributed to the quality of life for others and made a difference in Canada. He has been awarded the Order of Ontario; Honourary Doctor of Laws degree from York University; Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship; The Gardiner Award for Citizen of the Year, Metropolitan Toronto; the Order of Honour, Association of Professional Engineers; the Queen’s Jubilee Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame.

Generous Futures: Power and Politics in Charitable Giving

Through a series of panel discussions we will explore the struggles, politics and possibilities within the charitable sector.

Promotional Partners: Association of Fundraising Professionals; Canadian Association of Gift Planners; Canada Helps; Imagine Canada

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