On Sunday, it was brought to the attention of Autistics United Nova Scotia that two screenings of the film "Vaxxed II: The People's Truth" are taking place in Bedford on Friday, January 31.
For the few who may not be aware, this film promotes the long-discredited theory that vaccines cause autism. Such beliefs have brought substantial harm to the autistic community, and to the general public.
Because of the anti-vaccine propaganda that is so readily available online, many people around the world have stopped vaccinating their children. Consequently, there have been localized outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses such as measles and whooping cough throughout Canada, the United States, and other countries. These illnesses can be fatal if not treated promptly.
In addition, anti-vaccine views have brought untold harm and stigma to autistic people, as the belief that vaccines cause autism has led many people to see autism as something to fear, and to look upon autistic people as damaged or broken.
The Eventbrite page for the screening gives the address of the screening location, but not the name of the venue. We have determined that the venue is the LeBrun Recreation Centre.
We have been in touch with the rec centre, the municipal Director of Parks and Recreation, local city councillor Tim Outhit, and Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health Robert Strang.
Mr. Outhit has also been in touch with the Director of Parks and Recreation, as well as the City Solicitor. Dr. Strang has asked one of his colleagues to express their concerns to HRM, as well. We thank them for the prompt response.
By hosting the screening of Vaxxed II, the LeBrun Recreation Centre is harming public health and contributing to the stigma towards autistic people. As a municipally-owned recreation centre, LeBrun Recreation Centre must uphold values of equity, anti-ableism, and human rights.
We, members of the autistic community in Nova Scotia, urge the LeBrun Centre to cancel this screening immediately.
Hello everyone! Here are some updates on what’s been happening in the different chapters of Autistics United Canada. It's a long one--we have been busy since our last update!
BC Accessibility Legislation
BC members of Autistics United met with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to discuss the autistic community’s priorities for the historic BC accessibility legislation in the making. We also attended the in-person sessions held by the BC government in Comox Valley and Vancouver.
We teamed up with the Neurodiversity Listening Society to host an input session for autistic and neurodivergent people across BC, to generate a report to submit to the government.
We will keep meeting with the Ministry in the coming months to ensure autistic voices are represented in the new law. This means we need to hear from you! Our online survey is still open for comments: https://forms.gle/xZjGifqHFZYnzfCbA
Our Stories, Our Voices: Autistic Intergenerational Storytelling Event
Our Stories, Our Voices is a storytelling event connecting autistics of all ages, held on August 25th. The event aimed to provide social stories by and for autistic people, rather than the neurotypical-centred social narratives we often encounter. A picture-book making session followed the storytelling itself.
Protest Against Autism Speaks
Members of Autistics United Vancouver protested against Autism Speaks Canada at their walk on October 6th in Richmond. The protesters stood on the sidelines of the walk and held signs, handed out pamphlets, and told passersby about the issues with Autism Speaks. We invited them to consider the neurodiversity perspective and positive alternatives. The protest was covered by several media groups. We made the front page of The Province!
We also had coverage from CBC, News 1130, and Richmond News.
Summer Fire Roast Potluck
There was a potluck for autistic people in Comox Valley on August 14th at the Kin Beach Provincial Park. Autistic people in the area brought food and beverages to the event and enjoyed a bonfire and the natural scenery.
There was a game night at the Courtenay Vancouver Island Regional Library on October 9th. The event included coffee and snacks as well as board games for attendees to enjoy.
Protest Against Autism Speaks
Autistics United Fort McMurray protested against Autism Speaks alongside Neurodiversity YMM at the Autism Speaks walk in Edmonton on September 15th. The protesters wore red shirts to represent autistic pride, spoke to families about the neurodiversity movement, and referred people to further information about autism acceptance and pride.
Booth at Pride
Autistics United Fort McMurray attended the PRIDE YMM celebration at Jubilee Plaza on August 24th. The group answered questions about neurodiversity and held an interactive activity encouraging infodumping.
Collaboration with Manitoba Theatre for Young People
A major children's theatre, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, is putting on a play next year called Spelling 2-5-5, which has an autistic character. Autistics United Manitoba will be consulting on this play, which includes giving input on study guides for schools, and being involved with talkbacks after the show.
Autistic Pride Day
Autistics United Manitoba had a successful Autistic Pride Day picnic at Assiniboine Park. The event was held on June 15th and included snacks and outdoor games.
Unspoken Film Screening
The Nova Scotia chapter held a screening for the film “Unspoken” in Dartmouth on October 26. The film describes the life and experiences of Emma Zurcher-Long, a non-speaking autistic person who uses AAC to communicate. After the screening, participants had a discussion about the film and its contents, and the importance of respecting all forms of communication. More film screenings are planned for next year!
Article about Anti-Vaccination
Halifax Today released an article about the recent meeting between MLA Steve Craig and a known anti-vaxxer. He mentioned the meeting in a Twitter post which he subsequently removed, issuing an apology for the meeting. The article mentions Autistics United and quotes chapter leader Alex Kronstein discussing the situation.
Autistics United Canada is holding a fundraiser to raise money for improving accessibility at events, including ASL interpretation, braille transcription, sensory equipment and stim toys, and more. Donate through fundrazr to support Autistics United and help us make autistic-led events and projects accessible for everyone!
#AutisticsVote Federal Election Toolkit
Members of Autistics United worked on creating a toolkit to help autistic people vote at the November election. The toolkit includes information about Canada’s political system, the federal election and its candidates, and the process of registering to vote and voting at the polls.
Talking to Your MP About Autistic Self-Advocacy
We have a toolkit available to help people reach out to and work with their MPs on matters relating to autistic self-advocacy. The guide includes information on finding your MP and making a meeting, advocating during the meeting, and following up after the meeting.
The toolkit was by the Autistic Advocacy Coalition of Canada. Autistics United Canada is a member organization of the AACC.
Report to the United Nations Committee Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Autistics United submitted a report to the 22nd Session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was held August 26th to September 20th. The report highlighted areas of concern for autistic people in Canada in relation to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The report focused on a variety of areas, including the right to life, education, accessibility, and employment.
International Day of Protest Against ABA
The second International Day of Protest Against ABA (started by the Nova Scotia chapter of Autistics United) was held on August 31st. The protest featured hashtags such as “#SayNoToABA” and “#InternationalDayOfProtestAgainstABA”, and included information about the ways in which ABA is harmful to autistic people.
To counteract Canadian Autism Awareness Month, Autistics United held a social media campaign to highlight the achievements of autistic people, giving spotlights to 31 autistics in our community. We could not talk about everyone but will do it again next year!
The name Autober was coined by Albertan member Riki Entz, and Christopher Whelan took the lead in creating the posts.
Autober 2019 posts can be found on Fort McMurray and National Facebook pages.
International Day of the Stim
The International Day of the Stim was created by our colleagues at A4A to celebrate stimming and its significance. Members of Autistics United participated in the event, which included posts on Facebook and Twitter about the importance of stimming and stimming positivity.
Media Coverage about the National Autism Strategy
Autistics United was featured in an article by City News 1130 about the shortcomings of the national “autism strategies” discussed by campaigners in the 2019 election. Vivian Ly pointed out the importance of improving things for all disabled people, rather than singling out autistics. The article also mentioned the Federal Election Toolkit released by Autistics United around that time.
Interview about Issues with Blue Pumpkin Campaign
Vivian Ly was featured in a video by City News 1130 about the blue pumpkin campaign. Vivian highlighted the issues with requiring autistic children to out themselves to participate in trick-or-treating, and the risk of confusing the campaign with the use of teal buckets to show which houses have non-food offerings on Halloween.
We are currently working with other autistic-led advocacy organizations across the nation to establish the Autistic Advocacy Coalition of Canada (AACC)! Stay tuned for updates on our Twitter.
Statement on MacLean, Livingstone, Delaney and Disability Rights Coalition of Nova Scotia v. Province of Nova Scotia Remedy Decision
Autistics United Nova Scotia strongly condemns the insufficient compensation by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission's board of inquiry in the case of Beth MacLean, Joey Delaney and the late Sheila Livingstone.
It is important that the board of inquiry did recognize that Beth, Joey and Sheila suffered discrimination and violence while institutionalized at Emerald Hall, and that they should receive compensation from the province for it. We must also commend the order to have Beth and Joey placed in community-supported housing and that the progress on this will be monitored. However, we object to the comments by the board chair of the inquiry, Walter Thompson, used to justify the amount of compensation.
Mr. Thompson said, “Joey Delaney is so disabled that payment to him of a very large sum will not have a greater impact on his life than a moderate sum. Beth MacLean does have capacity but the potential benefit to her of a very large damage award is limited.”
Particularly troubling is when Mr. Thompson said that Beth, Joey and Sheila have “a lack of capacity to benefit from the fruits of a (larger award).”
This kind of statement is extremely ableist. It is shockingly similar to what many people often say in support of sheltered workshops, where disabled people work for mere pennies on the dollar. When disability rights activists call for sheltered workshops to be closed, their parents often intervene, with statements such as:
“My son is 37. He can’t read or write. He’s not worth $14 an hour, but he is worth something.”
Mr. Thompson called it compensation for “soul-destroying” institutionalization, yet he still awarded Beth MacLean a mere $5,263 per year for each of the 19 years she spent confined in prison-like conditions. She lost 19 years of her life. This decision communicates that disabled lives have a low monetary value.
Our human worth and dignity are not determined by our perceived competence and ability. Moderating the amount of compensation based on disability is discriminatory. The implication is that the harm suffered does not matter as much if it happens to a disabled person.
Mr. Thompson also said that the province did not discriminate against others in similar situations because it is commonplace. However, just because discrimination is common does not mean that it does not exist or that it does not have similar long-term damaging effects on other disabled people.
While it is probably too late to increase the amount of compensation awarded, we call on Mr. Thompson to immediately retract and apologize for his comments suggesting that disabled people are not entitled to large damage awards on the sole basis of their disabilities. We also urge the provincial government and the Human Rights Commission to address larger issues of neglect in institutionalization as the widespread crisis that it is.
Today is Giving Tuesday and the International Day of Disabled Persons!
Autistics United Canada is a member of the Autistic Advocacy Coalition of Canada (AACC), a collective of autistic-led advocacy organizations. We represent diverse autistic youth and adults across the country. We fight for human rights and disability justice on issues of education, employment, health care, violence, segregation, accessibility, self-determination, and autistic well-being.
This Giving Tuesday, we are fundraising for two projects:
1. To build and maintain an AACC website, where we can put our MP Action Kits for members; information sheets; press releases; human rights reports; Calls to Action and more.
2. To print materials to present to Members of Parliament and other organizations on our campaign to get autistic-led groups included in ALL federal policy discussions about the policies that affect our lives.
These projects need to happen now--because the federal government has been showing signs of support for the proposed National Autism Strategy (NAS), an Autism Speaks-backed policy package. We need a major shift on autism policy and it can only happen with strong, united advocacy groups fighting for it.
Thank you for your support, via your donation or any other ways that you show support. We appreciate it!
Donation link: https://www.autisticsunitedca.org/donate.html
Autistics United Canada and the Neurodiversity Listening Society are hosting an event where autistic and neurodivergent people can give feedback on the upcoming BC accessibility legislation, as part of the public consultation process.
This feedback will be used to generate a report by BC chapters of Autistics United to submit to the provincial government.
The event is happening on Saturday November 23rd, 1:30-4:30 pm. Attendees can come in person to 5024 Rumble Street in Burnaby, near Royal Oak Station, or join us online via Zoom. Honorariums and snacks will be provided.
More information can be found on our Facebook event page (https://www.facebook.com/events/415719872401985/) and our registration form: https://forms.gle/xBon9zJSFeuoQsku6
Need help getting to the event? We can help with travel costs. Let us know on the registration form or by emailing us.
Can’t make it in person? Join us online via Zoom video conferencing!
Not free on Nov. 23 but still want to give feedback? Fill out our survey: https://forms.gle/ZZGFa4HWaHy4GgdW6
Our #AutisticsVote Federal Election 2019 Toolkit is now up! Check it out here, along with our Talking to MPs guide.
Elections Canada is the official source of information about voting at the 2019 federal election. Visit their website (English version / version française), check out their Voter’s Guide, and find updates on Twitter (English version / version française).
From our guide, possible questions you can ask your candidates:
Consultation - Nothing about us without us!
Health care and well-being
Violence towards autistic people
Stigma & “awareness” vs. acceptance
Equitable and affordable housing
Employment and poverty
Beyond the Accessible Canada Act
We have reached over $500 on our accessibility fundraiser! Thank you to all of those you have donated so far.
Keep the momentum up by sharing our fundraiser! We aim to create a pool of money that autistic people across Canada can draw from to improve the accessibility of their advocacy and community building projects. Applications will open once we achieve a large enough pool for distributing funds.
Donate to our fundraiser here.
Have any questions about how to improve the accessibility of your initiatives? Reach out to us and we can answer your questions! We have organizers experienced in inclusive event planning, including physical, cognitive, sensory, and financial access.
[Image description: Number 500 in a middle of adrawing of a sun. Text reads: "We raised $500 with your help!" Autistics United Canada logo in bottom right]
Autistics United Canada wrote a report to the United Nations for the 22nd session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which happened from August 26 to September 20, 2019. This report highlights areas of concern in Canada that pertain to autistic people under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
You can view the report here.
You can also find submissions from other Civil Society Organizations here.
To learn more about the CRPD, visit the United Nations website. There are translations, sign language, plain language versions of the CRPD available on the website.
List of Issues on Canada
Submission for the 22nd Session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, August 26 to September 20, 2019
AUTISTICS UNITED CANADA
Promoting disability justice and creating connections by and for Autistic people
Autistics United Canada logo of 8 interlocking infinity symbols in a rainbow of colours]
Wishing you all happy stimming! 🎉 (party popper emoji)
Let’s take this moment to celebrate autistic bodies and senses and commit to fight for autistics who are silenced and prevented from stimming freely.
Follow the #StimFest conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Check out our neurodiversity library in Metro Vancouver, BC! We lend stim toys and fidgets to individuals and community organizations.
Please welcome the new chapter of Autistics United Canada, AU Comox Valley — K’ómoks Territory!
They are just getting started, but you can contact them through email or visit their Facebook!
Autistics United Comox Valley also has a support group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ComoxValleyAutisticsSupport/