“The freedom of no one is safe unless the freedom of everyone is safe.”
—Alfred Alan Borovoy
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms proclaims that every Canadian has the right to these Fundamental Freedoms: “(a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.”
How timely that freedom is the theme for this newsletter. Exercising their right for freedom is exactly what the self-advocates in our community have done this month. They assembled outside the legislature, along with other supporters of the community living movement, to peacefully protest the government’s budgetary decision to eliminate the annual $45 bus pass, forcing people with disabilities to choose between using their small monthly allowances to either pay the full monthly concession fare or purchase other necessities of life. Craig Muirhead, a self-advocate who was on the grounds of the legislature on the day of the protest said that he would have “to scrape and think about [his] next meal.” (For the full story in the Peace Arch News, click here.)
This newsletter is filled with many other inspiring stories and articles evoking the notion that dignity, liberation, independence, outspokenness, self-confidence and equality are synonymous of freedom and integral to inclusiveness. These accounts also denote that, in our interconnected world, freedom not only percolates from global and state conventions, it also stems from organizational governance and individual self-talk.
Additionally, our values determine how we respond to others and behave toward them. For freedom to exist, we need to have compassion which means to free our minds from bias and see situations from other perspectives. The opposite of compassion is apathy and apathy is the suppressor of freedom. Freedom entails respecting each other in spite of our differences and it also requires being kind to ourselves.
As human beings, we are unique entities that are interdependent with others. We all need to work together to contribute to a functional society and live a good life. The International Declaration on Human Rights begins with this statement: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” This excerpt suggests that with a level of human consciousness, we can all find freedom within us and adapt our attitudes and behaviours to promote inclusive communities.
By Louise Tremblay, The Semiahmoo Foundation
Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. The Semiahmoo Foundation exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.