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.