Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Right House

Last weekend, the CBC Radio program Maritime Magazine aired this 30 minute documentary about the plight of Nova Scotians with intellectual disabilities fighting for for appropriate living situations.  I sent them this letter in response.

Dear Ms. Brunelle,

I wanted to thank you for shining a light on the injustice faced by so many people with intellectual disabilities in Nova Scotia.

Many of your listeners may not be aware that Canada has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  This Convention states, among other things, that "persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement."

The Convention guarantees that people with disabilities are entitled to receive "the assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community".

Your story clearly illustrates that this is not happening for many people with disabilities in this province.

After 20 years supporting people with disabilities in L'Arche, it is my sense that the solutions to these issues are not as elusive or complex as our governments would have us believe.  There are many individuals with disabilities, families, and supporting agencies who are eager to design and deliver the type of support that is needed, often with much less money that the government currently spends on outdated, custodial care. Unfortunately, it is often the systems that are meant to support our people, and the bureaucrats who administer these systems, that get in the way of the innovation and creativity of the people "in the field".

A key concern for me is whether those in positions of power see people with intellectual disabilities as a problem to be solved, or if they actually value the contributions that these individuals can bring to our society if given the opportunity to do so.  It is my hope that the remarkable people I have met through my involvement with L'Arche and other like-minded organizations will continue to announce their value and refuse to be defeated by a system that has lost touch with the needs of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Jenn Power
L'Arche Atlantic

1 comment:

Tina O'Brien said...

Just came upon your blognow...and totally enjoying...thanks so much. Tina