featured Inclusion

Speaking truth to power: “I don’t need you to be proud, I need serious systemic change”

Video Vicky Levack @VickyLevack / Twitter

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Nova Scotians opposed to the institutionalization of people living with physical or developmental disabilities raised some important issues after a healthcare announcement by Liberal leader and Premier Iain Rankin at Victoria Park in downtown Halifax last Sunday.

Judy Haiven wrote about the event here.

It’s 2021, and many people are still warehoused in large institutionalized settings despite commitments from a newly elected Liberal government in 2013 to phase out large institutions and provide the supports necessary for people to live in their communities by 2023.

As activists have constantly reminded the government, we’re nowhere near that target.

Vicky Levack thought the Liberal photo opp would be a good place to ask the Premier what’s up.

Levack lives at Arborstone Enhanced Care in Halifax, a nursing facility that also offers long-term care for young people with disabilities. As a person with disabilities who has felt at first hand the effects of government policy that exclude the supports she needs to live in the community, she has a vested interest in the Premier’s response.

I have the same needs as any other citizen. I need a place to sleep that is safe, I need food on my table, and I need to know that I can not only survive but thrive in my community,” Levack told Premier Rankin after the event.

“I am proud of you being here,” Rankin replied.

“I don’t need you to be proud, I need serious systemic change,” Levack countered.

A Liberal aide decided to tweet rather condescendingly about what had just occurred, and turn a heartfelt protest into something harmless.

Ableism, the discrimination of people who live with disabilities, manifests in a variety of ways. But a common theme is that people with disabilities are perceived as dependent, unproductive, and without value. As such, everything they say can easily be ignored. That tweet was a fine example of ableism in action.

This Friday August 13 there will be a rally to protest the government’s inaction. The event is organized by the Disability Rights Coalition and the Community Homes Action Group, two excellent groups which have been raising the alarm about the abandoned disability roadmap for many years.

See also: “But I’m a citizen” – Disability rights activist calls for changes to census procedure in nursing homes

Check out our new community calendar!

With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.

Subscribe to the Nova Scotia Advocate weekly digest and never miss an article again. It’s free!