Thursday, 28 July 2016

Shouldn’t We Rethink Normal? by Renée Cormier

I recently came across a post on where the writer spoke of growing up in a world where he was not considered normal. As someone who has never wanted to be just like everyone else, I can honestly say that I understood what it is like to be different, but I have never felt like my idiosyncrasies made me abnormal.

My son, who lives with a mild form of autism put together a short documentary where he questions the value and definition of normal. He feels perfectly normal, and why shouldn’t he, really? Normal is really a term that is used by ableists to describe anything that doesn’t fit their perception of what is right and good. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, so why would anyone not be considered right or good at their core?

It is my personal belief that each of us is on this earth to teach someone something. Whether or not you can speak, or even move has no bearing on your ability to do that. The fact is, that every interaction we have, whether we are aware of it or not, is an opportunity to teach someone something. I would venture to say that most of us do it all the time and don’t even know it. It is our individual differences that provide these teachable moments and have the power to bring us together with more understanding. I like to think that it is our differences rather than our sameness that creates the strongest social glue.

The collective consciousness of the world has always been very negative because people tend to see differences as a threat. Clearly, the world has much to learn about the value of being different. Those who are willing to bear the pain of being different are blessed with having the opportunity to innovate, educate and change the world. They are the leaders, the visionaries, the philosophers and the greatest influencers.

It’s time to embrace what makes you different and love that quality in yourself. Normal is only a word and when we say someone is not normal we shouldn’t think of it as a bad thing. We tend to think of abnormalities as being reflective of an ineptitude, but it doesn’t have to mean that at all. Our personal abnormalities whether they be physical or mental force us to navigate the world in unconventional ways and in doing so we learn and teach more. In essence, we fulfill our purpose. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

A Bigger Issue by Sarah Evans

Last week there was a lot of controversy around the Canadian National Exhibition (The CNE). On Tuesday, the CNE decided to cancel it's policy of allowing free admission to people with disabilities. There was such a big outcry that the CNE reversed this decision. I'm not really a fan of the CNE, but I do have some thoughts about this issue.

The other night, I was listening to a discussion about this on the radio. The host thought the CNE should be free for people with disabilities, saying that they can't go on the rides, one of a number of luxuries that they can't enjoy in life. I felt patronized by this comment. It's incorrect. Some people with disabilities can go on rides. Besides, many people who go to the CNE don't go for the rides - they go for other things like the food or shopping.

I have mixed feelings about the CNE giving free admission to people with disabilities. I think that it would be ideal for people with disabilities to pay full admission to the CNE and all other attractions. I think it would go a long way towards equality. Unfortunately, many people with disabilities don't have much disposable income. Their sole income is from ODSP and they struggle to afford the basics.

So while we talk about whether people with disabilities should get free admission to attractions, maybe we should really be talking about how to raise the average living wage for people with disabilities so they will have enough disposable income to enjoy going to places like the CNE.