SASKATOON – Rather than gathering for personal vigils across the country for personal vigils due to the pandemic, many in Canada and around the world have been watching International Disabled Mourning Day online, remembering disabled people killed by family members and caregivers were.
Hundreds of people have shared their thoughts and memories online using the DisabilityDayofMourning hashtag, including Canadian attorney Kim Sauder, who hosts the Crippled Scholar blog.
She told CTVNews.ca by phone on Monday that on that day, “disabled people around the world will remember and mourn disabled people who were murdered”.
By the way, this is not a condemnation. Creating this video was a month long process of memory and sadness.
I know exactly how emotional the content is.
– Kim Sauder MACDS (@crippledscholar) March 1, 2021
US blogger and disability rights attorney Imani Barbarin said these deaths are too often dismissed or neglected, and so she and others are encouraged to “stand up” against those trying to share the experiences of disabled people today to delete.
Today is the day of mourning disability. I mourn the disabled people who did not survive this pandemic. I mourn the fact that we live in a society that often treats disabled people as an afterthought. I mourn for life in a world ready to accept everyone but us.
– Keah Brown (@Keah_Maria) March 1, 2021
Canada does not have definitive national statistics on the number of disabled people killed by their carers or someone they trust.
Since mid-2014, the US-based website Disability Day of Mourning has been cataloging deaths from around the world. It contains descriptions of the victims, as well as related messages, court records, or obituaries.
The cases recorded on the site date back to 1982 and the cases from Canada include the death of Inuk father Levi Illingayuk, whose son was convicted of manslaughter in 2018. Newfoundland woman Ryanna Grywacheski, who was killed in 2017; and Ontario woman Terri-Lynn Thompson, who was killed in 2019.
The website states that more than 60 people with disabilities have been killed in Canada since at least 1992. However, many deaths are not reported.
“Much more needs to be done to understand the reality of life with disabilities and to fill the terrible gaps in abuse so that disabled people can live more equitably,” said Sauder, who is not affiliated with the website.
ONLINE VEHICLES, READING THE NAMES OF THE VICTIMS THIS YEAR
Annual vigils – whose origins in the United States can be traced back to 2012 – typically take place in major cities across the country, including Toronto and Burnaby, BC
But this year Sauder didn’t attend a convention, instead went to her YouTube page to read aloud the names of 1,510 people who have died since the 1970s.
“I felt like it was really important to put something else out that had all the names in it,” she said.
Last year, Autistics United Canada advocacy organizers read 61 names from across the country at a vigil in Burnaby, BC, with some deaths dating back to the 1940s. Due to the pandemic, the Vancouver-based group held a virtual memorial ceremony via Zoom this year to “honor and remember” those killed.
Organizer Vivian Ly told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview that the media and non-disabled people all too often sympathize with the killers rather than the victims, with some still using outdated terms such as “merciless killings.”
She said the pandemic forced people to “feel the weight of all the lives we lost due to the pandemic, especially among people with disabilities. People disproportionately affected by government policies regarding critical care and triage protocols. “
Trans-disability advocate Corin de Freitas tweeted a similar sentiment in her own observation of the day. De Freitas, who uses the pronoun “she”, said earlier this year that “they are also thinking about care in the context of community care and the broader role of disabled people [people] in this pandemic. “
Today I mourn for broken trust because I know that most non-disabled people prefer their boredom, comfort and lust over our lives.
I think about how these priorities are reflected in institutional frameworks, vaccine distribution, triage protocols, etc.
– The Tweedy Mutant @ (@the_tweedy) March 1, 2021
Sarah Jama, the founder of the Ontario Disability Justice Network, told CTVNews.ca on Twitter that her group was holding a personal, physically detached vigil in downtown Ottawa on Monday. She said her grief extends to disabled people – and people with mental illness – who have died in government-run facilities or by the police.
“We mourn the disabled comrades who died in nursing homes because their lives were less important to decision-makers.”
On this day of mourning disability, remember big sis @ingwongward. Until her last days she talked about the need for better palliative care in this country. I wish I could have asked her for advice on # BillC7 and 1000 other things.
– Sarah Jama (@SarahJama_) March 1, 2021
Disability attorney Sauder said the untimely deaths of disabled people had burdened her since childhood. She vividly remembers the 1993 coverage of Canadian farmer Robert Latimer convicted of second degree murder in the death of his daughter Tracy, who suffered from cerebral palsy.
At the time, the murder sparked an ongoing debate about the ethics of euthanasia. A 1999 Ipsos poll found that 73 percent of Canadians at the time believed he acted out of compassion.
“There is a lot of empathy for parents. The assumption is that they are driven into it or that the children are “obviously” suffering, ”said Sauder, who urged people to use the day of mourning for disabilities and beyond to assess whether they are consciously or unconsciously these feelings allow to linger today.
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