The Rose Centre for Young Adults with Disabilities: Second Meeting!

That’s right folks, The Rose Centre for Young Adults with Disabilities is having
its second official meeting, and we want to see you all there. As always, anyone
is welcome, light snacks and assistance for things like coats will be provided,
and please please pass this information on to anyone you think might be
interested!

Last Time we:

  • Talked generally about disability and young adult life
  • Discussed a bunch of great ideas for the Rose Centre and it’s potential
  • Came up with great ways to create a community and vamp up our website (Check it out, it’s new and amazing)

This Time we Will:

  • Iron out a specific plan of which ideas we want to tackle, in what order, and assign tasks
  • Talk about the best ways to get together on a regular basis and the best ways to connect online
  • Share ideas about advertising our events and the organization in general
  • Have tons of Fun!!!!!

Details
Date: Monday February 13th
Time: 6:15-8:15 pm
Place: Deer Park Library
Meeting Room
40 St Clair Ave. E.
E-Mail: info@therosecentre.ca
(No Need to RSVP, just show up!)
Website:
http://www.therosecentre.ca

Upcoming #Disabled Young People’s Project Retreat in #Toronto | #li #youth

The Disabled Young Peoples Project (DYPP) is an arts based pilot project working on building community alongside youth (16-29) from black, African, Aboriginal, racialized, immigrant, First Nations and Indigenous communities who are also living with a disability across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

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DYPP Retreat:

Join us to imagine, create and claim space for our bodies in the arts, in our communities and in our homes. We are currently looking for youth with varied and multiple lived experiences of disability to be a part of the DYYP of the forthcoming and totally “sick” DYPP Retreat in 2011.

The DYPP Retreat is for individuals who:

  • are interested in creating a project that reflects the specific needs of youth from black, racialized, immigrant, first nations and indigenous communities and backgrounds

  • are passionate about the arts as a means of self expression

  • have no experience or are experienced community organizing superstars

  • have no time, too much time, and just enough time to spare

  • and everyone else in between who identifies with, questions, troubles and or is suspicious of being told/labelled as “disabled” or “having a disability” as they deal with all sorts of chronic, mental, emotional, psychological, and physical situations and states of being.

Think this might be you? Get in Touch:

If you are interested in partaking in this groundbreaking project, we want to work along with you. To get details about the next meeting, please feel free to contact

Timage Zekaria, DYPP Project coordinator at dypp.kwemto [at] gmail [dot] com or

 Onyii Udegbe at kwemtot [at] gmail [dot] com 


Student Creates Opportunity to Increase #Accessibility of #Federal #Transport System

Today, Pat Martin, NDP MP for Winnipeg Centre, will introduce a Private Member’s Bill calling for an accessibility audit of federally regulated transportation systems.  This initiative results from a high school student competition called Create Your Canada, where students were asked to draft a bill to change the way our country works.  Sam Unrau, a Grade 12 student with disability at Argyle Alternative High School in Winnipeg, is the winner of the competition and his proposed Bill focuses on requiring the Government of Canada to undertake an accessibility audit of all federally regulated transportation systems.

“Sam Unrau, as a high school student, has demonstrated considerable understanding of the barriers people with disabilities face in travelling across Canada.  He gets it, and his good work creates an opportunity for Members of Parliament to address the erosion of access for persons with disabilities in federal transportation systems.  We applaud his efforts and those of Member of Parliament Pat Martin,” said Marie White, Chairperson of CCD.

“If students understand the need for improved access, why doesn’t the Minister of Transport” asks Pat Danforth, Chair of CCD’s Transportation Committee.  “The disability community has been frozen out of any dialogue with Transport Canada for almost 4 years.  CCD’s repeated requests for a meeting with the Minister of Transport over the last four years have all been denied,” stated Danforth.

CCD members have identified numerous recent access issues.  They include:

  • Greater use of small planes that cannot carry a standard wheelchair in the cargo hold.
  • Small plane use means less access to boarding ramps and deplaning onto the tarmac.
  • Inadequate space for guide dogs in flight.
  • Even after winning a 7 year legal battle with VIA Rail over their purchase of inaccessible passenger cars a member of CCD could not travel by train from Toronto to Vancouver for the Paralympics; she had to travel through the United States because their system is regulated for access, in fact they purchase some of their passenger rail cars from Bombardier in Canada because of their accessibility.
  • Introduction of body scanners without any study or determination if they will be accessible.  If not accessible, people with disabilities will be required to submit to the more intrusive “pat down.”
  • Installation by airlines of inaccessible entertainment systems.  The system was accessible to persons with vision impairments before but the new system is not.
  • Although ordered to do so interprovincial bus systems that span neighbouring communities refuse to call out bus stops.

Canada, once a leader in accessibility, has lost considerable ground.  Britain, Australia and the United States all have enforceable access regulations and service providers know what they must do.  Here in Canada we continue with “voluntary codes of practice” and people with disabilities are left with a system where through the complaint system they have to remove one barrier at a time.

“Sam Unrau’s accessibility audit idea is a good one.  We applaud his understanding and the support of Pat Martin.  Let’s hope others in the Government of Canada will take note and act to improve access through the establishment of enforceable regulations,” said Laurie Beachell, National Coordinator of CCD.

Why we need to Support #Worker’s #Rights

To most people of my generation, a full time, unionized job with benifits sounds like a pipe dream, let alone a job that will last us until we retire.  Most of us these days are in contract jobs or part-time positions that force us to keep focused on keeping  a job (or finding one) and less on what our rights are as workers.  For young people, particularly people with disabilities, there is an underlying notion that we should feel lucky to even have a job, and basically just suck it up and be a good employee if you want to keep it.

Where did the idea of good jobs go?  Is it just an idea?  There are still good jobs out there, but most of us do not have access.  The methods of governments over the last several decades have privatized public jobs traditionally held by youth, forcing youth to find explotive underpaying jobs.  This limits youth exposure to unions, and there access to information on worker’s rights.

In the case of youth with disabilities, those that do find jobs often do so through employment services that offer low wage, low skill jobs regardless of the person’s education.  The people working for the youth are likely making more than the positions they offer.  Profiting off the backs of young people with disabilities in a nice neat neoliberal view of employability that still maintains the oppression of people with disabilities by treating them like charity cases.

My point is, if we don’t pass down the knowledge of worker’s rights we will lose those rights.  With the older workforce coming into retirement, and a neww work force coming in with little knowledge of their rights or how they were attained, it is the perfect recipe for an exploted young workforce.

These rights were not given to us freely by the good hearts of employees and politicians, they were fought for.  Those coming into the workforce need to learn to fight for themselves, especially those most vulnerable.  Unions are not dead, striking still works, we need to be aware.  There are people profiting off the belief that good jobs for young people are impossible, we’ve been taught to think this way.

There is a particularly strong movement going on in Sudbury right now.  The Vale Inco strike has been called the tipping point that will make or break worker’s  rights in Canada,

A March and Rally is being held on Thursday, April 29th in support of those workers, and to support workers rights in Canada.

Join them at the Sheraton Centre Hotel on Queen Street at 1:15pm, they will be marching to Queens Park for the rally at 2:00 pm.

For more infomation on worker’s rights check out the Young Worker Awareness Program

For more information on the Vaale Inco Strike check out: http://www.FairDealNOW.ca

#Violence reports soar at #youth jail

This is an old article, but still worth reading

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Toronto Star

December 21, 2009

Diana Zlomislic

Since late summer 2009, more than 160 teens have filed complaints with Ontario’s youth advocate about the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre in Brampton.

RICK MADONIK/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

A Toronto teen arrived at the Jarvis Street youth court last month with black eyes, bloodied clothing and abrasions on his swollen head – an alarming testament to the escalating violence inside Ontario’s new “superjail” for kids.

The slight 17-year-old says he was brutalized regularly by fellow inmates throughout the 13 days he spent at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre in Brampton awaiting a bail hearing.

“From what we understand, nothing was done to prevent or stop the attacks,” his lawyer, Veronique Henry, told the Star.

“When they come in with injuries like my client did … you can’t say this child is crying wolf.”

More than 160 teens have filed 250 formal complaints about the facility with Ontario’s Children and Youth Advocate since late summer. Most of these detainees haven’t even been convicted of the charges facing them but are awaiting a bail hearing or trial.

Despite a sweeping internal review, prompted by concerns from the advocate’s office and brought to light in the Star last month, allegations of violence have risen 15 per cent. An ambulance was dispatched to the 192-bed, state-of-the-art superjail eight times within a six-month period, suggesting injuries so severe, they couldn’t be treated at the jail’s medical unit.

For Henry’s client, the conditions were so dire, he attempted suicide.

“These kids, and boys in particular it seems, are terrified – just terrified,” she said. “We can’t run a justice system like this.”

During the past few weeks, four teens who have been detained at the jail shared their stories with the Star.

They described a brutal hazing from fellow inmates while staff turned a blind eye, being deprived of medication, being locked in isolation for days wearing only boxer shorts, and being subjected to excessive use of force by staff. The identities of these teens are protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

When a reporter tried to interview a fifth teen who told his lawyer he would like to share details about the abuses he suffered, a halfway house funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which also oversees the jail, called police to launch an investigation.

The reporter hadn’t even contacted the youth directly but notified a supervisor at the home of her intent to interview the youth.

A ministry spokeswoman couldn’t explain why police were called. She denied a claim that the teen’s file had been flagged with a note for police to launch a probe in the event a reporter tried to contact the youth.

When asked about specific allegations of abuse at the jail, Minister Laurel Broten told the Star, “It’s upsetting to hear.”

Broten pledged, “It’s something that I’m going to look into further.”

A week later, the ministry responded by email:

“Where there is an allegation of a serious occurrence at any of our youth facilities, including RMYC, they are taken very seriously and an investigation is initiated and appropriate action is taken. These investigations include review of relevant records, including health care and operational documentation, interviews with residents and staff; and video when available.”

Irwin Elman, Ontario’s advocate for children and youth, said he’s still waiting on the results of eight investigations dating to September.

While the province has addressed some of the facility’s shortcomings in meeting detainees’ most basic rights by handing out pillows and blankets and monitoring food temperature, persistent concerns around the jail’s culture and its ability to deal with young people are reaching a tipping point.

The Roy, as the $93 million jail is referred to by staff and its young detainees, is named for Ontario’s progressive former chief justice. While McMurtry plays no active role in the facility’s operations, he said he’s discussed concerns outlined by the youth advocate with the ministry and is certain fixing those problems will be a priority.

Toronto attorney Laurie Galway has represented roughly 50 youths who have come through the jail.

Many complained about fighting in the facility that wasn’t being stopped immediately.

The union representing jail workers blames insufficient staffing.

“Every day we’re running short,” said Bruce England, a youth services officer at the Roy and president of OPSEU Local 290. “People that are working 3 to 11 are getting ordered to stay from 11 to 7 because we don’t have the staff.”

The 23,000-square-foot jail currently employs 166 permanent front-line youth services officers.

The ministry said an analysis of the staffing model is underway.

Ontario’s youth advocate, meanwhile, is watching closely.

That an entire division of a provincial ministry in cooperation with hundreds of institutional staff can’t do better for this group of young people “is a little bit mind-boggling,” Elman said.

“When we take kids into custody, we become their guardians, as a province. One of the primary considerations is to keep children safe.”

 

The Invisible Backpack of Able-Bodied Privilege Checklist

There are a couple of these already online, but they are written by able-bodied people, and seem to miss some major points of privilege.  I decided to write my own.

1. I can, if I wish, arrange to attend social events without worrying if they are accessible to me.

2. If I am in the company of people that make me uncomfortable, I can easily choose to move elsewhere.

3. I can easily find housing that is accessible to me, with no barriers to my mobility.

4. I can go shopping alone most of the time and be able to reach and obtain all of the items without assistance, know that cashiers will notice I am there, and can easily see and use the credit card machines.  I also don’t have to worry about finding a dressing room I can use, or that it’s being used as a storage room.

5. I can turn on the television and see people of my ability level widely and accurately represented.

6. I am not called upon to speak as the token person for people of my mobility level

7. I can advocate for my children in their schools without my ability level being blamed for my children’s performance or behaviour.

8. I can do well in a challenging situation without being told what an inspiration I am.

9. If I ask to speak to someone “in charge”, I can be relatively assured that the person will speak directly to me and not treat me like I am stupid.

10. I can belong to an organization/class/workplace and not feel that others resent my membership because of my ability level.

11. I do not have to fear being assaulted because of my ability level.  If am abused by a partner I will have a safe place to go if I wish to leave.

12. I can be reasonably assured that I won’t be late for meetings due to mobility barriers.

13. As I grow up from childhood I will not feel that my body is inferior or undesirable, and that it should be “fixed”, allowing me to feel confident in my current and future relationships.

14. When speaking with medical professionals, can expect them to understand how my body works, to answer my questions, and respect my decisions.

15. My neighborhood allows me to move about on sidewalks, into stores, and into friends’ homes without difficulty.

16. People do not tell me that my ability level means I should not have children. They will be happy for me when I become pregnant, and I can easily find supportive medical professionals and parents like me.  Note: I have heard of one support group for parents with disabilities within my community.  See article

17. I can be reasonably sure that my ability level will not discourage employers from hiring me

18. I know that my income can increase based on my performance, and I can seek new and better employment if I choose; I do not have to face a court battle to get an increase in my income.

19. I can choose to share my life with someone without it being seen as a disadvantage to them

20. If people like me have been discriminated against in history, I can expect to learn about it in school, and how that discrimination was overcome.

21. All people like me are seen as living lives that are worth living

Hi Reader, If you’re from a school, such as a university, and you’ve been referred to this site or are using it as a reference, please know that I’m fine with that. If you could leave me a comment below about how were brought here I’d appreciate it. Thanks!

Canada’s Invisible Heroes

I’ve given a lot of thought to what I’m about to say, and before I begin I want to be clear that what I am about to say is not intended to offend anyone. For a long time now I have seen a need for change, and I feel a responsibility to draw attention to it.

As some of you probably know, a Canadian lawyer from Thunder Bay became the first quadriplegic to reach the North Pole earlier this month, but if you didn’t hear about I’m not surprised. Maybe it’s just me, but I would think that a momentous occasion such as this is a big deal for Canada and the disability movement; worthy of front page news, or at least a picture. Instead what I found was a few paragraphs in some of the major papers such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and the CBC. To add insult to injury, all of those articles actually came from The Canadian Press.

In reading this minimal coverage, I couldn’t help but wonder why this was the case. The media can only be partly to blame; they focus their efforts on where they feel they can attract the most interest. Team Independence certainly isn’t hiding their achievements, so is why is no one paying attention?

While I’m sure there’s many things that contributed to this lack of coverage, I couldn’t help but notice a pattern emerging. In recent history members of the disabled community have made many great achievements, but the general public barely knows about them, if at all. One needs only to look at the limited coverage of the Paralympics for this. There are others as well, such as Saskatchewan’s own Myroslava Tataryn, who has been bringing AIDS education to disabled women across the world, while living with a disability herself. Of course, we’re all familiar with Rick Hansen, and his famous Man in Motion tour, but there have been other heroes in the more than twenty years since then.  In contrast is the American Erik Weihenmayer who became the first blind man to summit Mount Everest in 2001; he has a book and movie!

If you’re thinking that this isn’t a big deal, or just Canadian modesty, think again. The disability movement in Canada is fairly strong, but it has a hard time appealing to the younger generation. This modesty in regards to our heroes is only part of a growing problem. Much of what goes on in the disability movement happens outside of the radar of the general public. The new standards being set by the province of Ontario are a great example. Despite the potential of these to greatly improve the lives of people with disabilities in Ontario, the average person on the street isn’t aware of their existence, or most of the barriers we face. What does reach the papers is the abuse of some disabled people (but not usually the ones who active in the community), or debates about the employability of disabled people and social assistance rates.

What ends up in the news paints the image of disability to the general public, including people with disabilities. If we don’t support people like Team Independence, we will have a hard time changing this image. The province is starting to notice barriers, but most of this is due to provincial legislation, the activists have remained largely invisible to those outside the disabled community. What this does is perpetuate the idea that people with disabilities aren’t active. I don’t think businesses would be so comfortable weighing their expenses against human rights if they could see our faces, and understand the diversity and numbers of people they are discriminating against by not being accessible. Instead we are being pacified by meager standards that don’t even meet the requirements currently in legislation.

This is my call to action. We need to do more than meet outside the public eye. It’s time to go back to our roots, hit the streets, and show our communities that we are not silent. All people with disabilities have overcome great obstacles to get where they are, and it’s time to embrace that. No successful social movement achieved what it did through modesty, and neither will we.