CAN was established in 2007, at the initiative of the Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta. At our coaliton's inception stage, feedback was solicited from wide variety of stakeholders across the disability community, including agencies, persons with disabilities, caregivers, and government.
The majority of non-profit organizations serving persons with disabilities indicated an urgency for increased partnerships and communication between institutions. Persons with disabilities, caregivers and agencies alike revealed that although they were not at liberty to be forerunners in the creation of a pan-disability coalition, they strongly desired to take part in the process. Agency leaders welcomed the opportunity to share information about their organization and come together to create a brighter future for persons with disabilities -one with full citizenship and unrestricted access to affordable housing, livable income, recreation and employment opportunities, and affordable, accessible transportation.
Agencies' insights were consistent with feedback from municipal and provincial government representatives. Through conversations held during one-on-one meetings, government officials suggested that the disability community work in partnership to address common issues.
Approaching persons in public service as a unified disability community would make it possible, given their considerable time restraints, to provide an audience to all of us as stakeholders referring to similar issues.
This consensus heralded our pan-disability coalition. For too long, agencies had been operating in silos, each working in solitude to support persons with disabilities. Each organization faced similar resource constraints and complex barriers that stagnated progress.
After years of this futility, we were ready for an amalgamation. We acknowledged that we could accomplish far more working together towards our shared goals, than working on our own. Sharing our initiative with municipal and provincial government, we received great support.
With this backbone support, CAN was developed to coordinate cross-sector efforts in support of persons with disabilities, to take strategic collective action on policy, and propel disability issues to the forefront.