Thursday, 23 May 2019

“In the end I can say that what I have learned about myself is how incredibly strong I am, because I have to be,” said disability rights advocate Joanne Larade in February at a panel on the lack of suitable housing for people with severe disabilities. At the panel she explained what it is like to find yourself, at the age of 42, living among people with dementia, many twice your age. Joanne passed away early last week.

Many Nova Scotians with intellectual and physical disabilities continue to live in large institutions against their will, while others are being taken care of by ageing and senior parents. Affected people are saying enough is enough. We went to today’s press conference at Province House, and transcribed in full the powerful statements by Jeannie Whidden of People First Nova Scotia, and Jen Powley, of No More Warehousing.

The Disability Rights Coalition is collecting signatures to an open letter to Premier Stephen McNeil, asking his government to stop warehousing people with disabilities and focus on investing in community living options instead. Alternatively, the group is asking people who are institutionalized and/or waiting for a community living space to file an individual human rights complaint.

Dr. Cynthia Bruce on the recent Human Rights decision on institutionalization and what it says about the pervasive force of ableism in Nova Scotia. “Describing ableism only in terms of discrimination against disabled people fails to capture the essence of ableism’s power to oppress. Discrimination is an intensely felt outcome of ableism, but the origins of such discrimination rest in deeply held beliefs that disability is undesirable, unwanted, and a burden on individuals, families, and society.”

News release: Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President of CACL, explained, “When it comes to pursuing justice for Canadians who are or have been institutionalized, CACL will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes. Even if it takes 1,500 individual complaints – as these rights are secured in the CRPD, which Canada has ratified with Nova Scotia’s agreement.”

Joint media release by People First Canada and People First Nova Scotia tackles the decision in the recent Human Rights tribunal on warehousing of people with intellectual disabilities. “To completely dismiss the idea that people with disabilities are discriminated against in most every system in our society is not someone being ‘un-woke’ – this is someone who is completely unaware and obviously not paying attention.”

NS Human Rights Board chair Walter Thompson ruled that the Nova Scotia government has indeed discriminated against Beth MacLean, Sheila Livingstone and Joey Delaney, three people who were institutionalized against their will. When I first heard the news I thought it was a wonderful victory. Now that I have read the decision I think it mostly sucks, but it isn’t all bad.

Here is why.

You are invited to the Community Forum hosted by the Disability Rights Coalition to learn about the current status of services for persons with disabilities and their families. Nova Scotia has the highest rate per capita of those living with a disability in Canada and is one of the last provinces who have large segregated institutions who warehouse people because of their disability.