By Megan Linton, CFS National Disability Justice Commissioner

 

Every year, we remember, recognize, challenge and move forward…

International Day for Persons with Disabilities is a reminder that we must continuously fight ableism and systemic oppression in ourselves, our home, our schools, workplaces, and society.

Remembering

It is imperative to remember and memorialize disabled persons who have been murdered, neglected, and have died in residential institutions. We recognize that each year more than 50 persons with disabilities are murdered by their caregivers. In 2018, hate crimes against persons with disabilities increased threefold. Women with disabilities continue to be the most likely to be victimized by violent crimes and sexual violence. We recognize that 47% of all violent crimes happen against women with disabilities.

We remember the victims of forced institutionalization, the history of sterilization and eugenics in Canada, forced medicalization and those lost without answers.

Recognizing

We recognize the intersecting impacts of disability, particularly the way gender, race, class and Indigeneity impact disability, and the effects of disability. We recognize the ongoing ableism in society, the continued segregation, isolation and violence that disabled people experience everyday. We also recognize the resilience, strength and success of disability justice advocates, both present and past, and honour and celebrate their many victories and struggles.

We recognize the impacts of intersectionality on persons with disabilities, and that people who exist within many intersections experience diverse challenges and experiences.

Challenging

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we call on Post-Secondary Institutions to increase supports for persons with disabilities, to remove ableist Mandatory Leave of Absences Policies. We challenge Post-Secondary Institutions to make their schools more accessible; financially, emotionally and physically. We encourage institutions to offer more robust, holistic and intersectional mental health supports. We call on the federal government to address the concerns of the Accessibility for Canadians Act.  In solidarity with the Inclusion Network, we call on provincial governments to close remaining residential institutions.

We urge allies to hold each other accountable in challenging ableism everyday. We encourage support for disabled students and disability justice organizations.

Moving Forward

We encourage and challenge all students, and student leaders to center voices of students with disabilities/disabled/neurodivergent students. We encourage meaningful reflection on the segregation and exclusion that events, communication, and advocacy currently creates for our disabled peers.