Inclusion Media release

News release: Local disability community commemorates lives of disabled filicide victims

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – As part of a nation-wide Day of Mourning in Canada and the United States, disability rights advocates in the Halifax area will be holding a vigil on Friday, March 1, 2019 to honor the lives of disabled people murdered by their families and caretakers.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), which tracks these cases, has compiled a list of over 700 reported murders of people with disabilities by relatives or caregivers over the last 35 years. The total number of killings is likely higher than the amount which are reported in news media. This problem is made worse by irresponsible news coverage which presents these murders as the sympathetic acts of loving and desperate parents, by a justice system which often gives a lighter sentence to a parent who kills a disabled child, and by the dangerous cultural prejudice that says a disabled life is not worth living.

ASAN held the first Day of Mourning in 2012 as a response to the murder of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man from California, by his mother. ASAN has continued to organize the event each year, partnering with other disability rights groups including Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, ADAPT, and the American Association of People with Disabilities. Day of Mourning is a national event, with 20-30 participating cities each year.

Little public attention is paid to the disabled victims of these violent acts. Media coverage and public discourse about such killings frequently justifies them as “understandable” and sometimes “merciful,” rather than appropriately condemning these crimes and those who commit them. The national Day of Mourning is a time for the disability community to commemorate the many lives cut short. By honoring disabled victims of murder and celebrating the lives that they lived, these vigils send a message that disability is not a justification for violence.

As well, while there may not have been any cases of filicide in Nova Scotia that we know of, it is nonetheless important to stand in solidarity with the victims of filicide from other parts of the world.

The Halifax vigil will be held at the Halifax Central Library, BMO Community Room, and begins at 1:30 pm. Host Alex Kronstein will be the main speaker, and other speakers will be confirmed closer to the day of the event.

The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy the same access, rights, and opportunities as all other citizens. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us!

Autistics United (AU) Canada is a grassroots self-advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of Autistic people in what is colonially known as Canada. All our leadership positions are held by Autistic people, reflecting our core value: “Nothing About Us, Without Us!” AU Canada is also about building connections in the Autistic community and fostering a strong sense of Autistic identity and pride. From local initiatives to national issues, Autistics United Canada has been at the forefront of Autistic-led advocacy in Canada.