Petition to Government of Canada: Consult with autistic-led organizations when developing national autism policy
To sign the petition, visit: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/511/865/033/
The full version of the petition is below.
We oppose the “National Autism Strategy” Campaign. It does not represent autistic people--and has never meaningfully consulted with autistic people. It promotes the segregation of autistics, instead of inclusion.
We stand for inclusion. The Government of Canada should consult directly with autistic people when creating a new, inclusive approach.
We, the undersigned, strongly oppose the National Autism Strategy campaign in Canada (“National Strategy”). We call on our government to do what’s right and meaningfully consult with autistic self-advocacy organizations when developing autism policies.
The current National Strategy campaign is not supported by independent data, nor does it reflect meaningful consultation with autistic self-advocacy organizations or autistic individuals. It represents a small interest group of providers, with a minority of parent support.
The National Strategy campaign is opposed by every autistic self-advocacy group in Canada, as well as many disability rights advocates, parents, organizations and policymakers.
Autistic people deserve to be included in school, housing, work and public life. But the types of autism services endorsed by National Strategy petitioners promote segregation--not inclusion. Autistic toddlers should not be segregated in full-time ABA “therapy” centres, nor should it be the norm for autistic students to be tracked into “special” schools and grow up to live in segregated group homes and work for pennies in sheltered workshops. These services may seem to make life easier for parents, but they do so at an unbearable cost--in human rights, freedom, autonomy and inclusion for disabled people.
Autism is not a disease to cure, but a disability to accommodate. We need access and services that promote inclusion. National Strategy petitioners take the short-sighted view that autism should be placed under Medicare. Our Government needs to keep autism policy under a range of portfolios to reflect its commitment to inclusion in all aspects of Canadian life. Canada is behind much of the rest of the world on inclusion for autistic people. It is time to catch up.
This spring, the Government of Canada met for the first time with autistic self-advocacy groups to share ideas, resources and input. We urge the Government to continue these meetings, and to:
Autistic people in Canada have so much to offer in the national discussion about autism policy. They should be included every step of the way. We ask our government to reject the National Strategy petition and instead develop robust, independent policy based on consultations with a range of stakeholders, including autistic self-advocates and disability rights groups across a diversity of identities and backgrounds. This includes centering the voices of black, indigenous, and other autistic people of colour, LGBTQ+ autistic people, working class and low-income autistic people, autistic people who are immigrants and refugees, autistic people with additional disabilities, and autistic people who live at other margins.
Canada can do better on autism policy--and it needs to start now.
The Autistic Advocacy Coalition of Canada
- Autistics United Canada (chapters in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia)
- Autistics 4 Autistics, Ontario
- London Autistics Standing Together
Disability self-advocacy organizations and self-advocates are preparing for the annual Disability Day of Mourning on March 1st. Across the country, local communities will gather to commemorate people with disabilities murdered by family members or caretakers.
Disability Day of Mourning was originally organized by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) and other disability rights organizations in 2012, in response to the murder of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man from California, by his mother. As dozens of names are added to the victims list every year, the number of vigils have also grown, spreading throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and China.
The murders of people with disabilities are often framed as “mercy killings,” but that perception sets a dangerous precedent. "The value our society places on disabled people is shockingly clear," says activist, author, and speaker Emma Van der Klift. "Faced with a growing number of child murders perpetrated by parents upon their disabled offspring, the public seems unable to respond with the clarity reserved for the parents who murder their nondisabled children. When we mistake homicide for care and compassion, we help create a climate where these and other atrocities become possible.”
In Canada, Disability Day of Mourning was first observed in 2015, starting in Vancouver. Since then, vigils have been held as a yearly reminder that disability is not, and has never been, a justification for violence.
Vancouver, British Columbia: Hosted by Autistics United Vancouver— Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territory
The vigil will be at the Woodlands Memorial Garden, New Westminster, British Columbia from 5-6:30 pm.
Event details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2243051655975208/
Winnipeg, Manitoba: Hosted by Autistics United Manitoba— Anishnaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dene & Dakota Territory, & Homeland of the Métis Nation
The vigil will be held at the University of Winnipeg (The Hive), Winnipeg, Manitoba from 6-8 pm.
Event details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/260070201577749
Guelph, Ontario: Hosted by Kinnery Chaparrel (individual activist)
The vigil will be held in St. George’s Square, Guelph, Ontario from 6 pm.
Event details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/340573600000332/
Guelph, Ontario occupies the traditional land of the Mississaugas of the Credit (Anishinaabek), Anishinaabe, Attawandaron, and Haudenosaunee peoples.
Toronto, Ontario: Hosted by Autistics 4 Autistics (A4A)
The vigil will be on the Ryerson Campus (Sally Horsefall Eaton Centre Bldg, Room SHE560), Toronto, Ontario from 3-5 pm.
Event details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/349632405875581
Toronto, Ontario occupies the traditional land of the Mississaugas of the Credit (Anishinaabek), Anishnabeg, Chippewa, Haudenosaunee, and Wendat peoples.
Halifax, Nova Scotia: Hosted by Autistics United Nova Scotia— Wabanaki Confederacy & Mi’kmaq Territory
The vigil will be held in the Halifax Central Library (BMO Community Room on the 2nd floor), Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1-3 pm.
Event details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1196551217166983
2018 was a busy year for Autistics United Canada!
In the last year, we have changed our name in order to better include our Indigenous autistic siblings and respect the land we occupy and work on, launched our website, and hosted socials and events to foster autistic pride in our communities and advocate for ourselves in and the wider disabled community.
Some of our major projects this year were our annual Disability Day of Mourning (DDoM) vigils, which we were able to live stream from Vancouver this year, and our letter writing campaign about immigration for people with disabilities regarding the medical inadmissibility provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Both of these campaigns were held nationwide!
We have also been able to reach out and form stronger relationships with other self-advocacy organizations such as A4A Ontario and London Autistics Standing Together (LAST). These relationships have also helped us create a new chapter, Autistics United Nova Scotia - Wabanaki Confederacy and Mi'kmaq Territory, which was formed in early December.
AU Vancouver - Musqueam, Squamish & Tsleil-Wututh Territory
AU Manitoba - Anishnaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota & Dene Territory & Homeland of the Métis Nation
AU Nova Scotia - Wabanaki Confederacy and Mi'kmaq Territory
While this chapter just formed in December, Chapter Leader Alex Kronsteinhas been a long-time Autistic advocate, including hosting DDoM annually and advocating against dangerous therapies. We are excited to work with him more in the future!
What's Coming for 2019?
In addition to our annual events, such as DDoM and Autism Acceptance Month, this year we also plan on:
We could not have made it this far without the support from you and the community! If you would like to be more involved, or have any suggestions or stories to share, please consider becoming a member, volunteering with us, or reaching out to us over social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr) or email (email@example.com). We have our work cut out for us in the upcoming year!