Yesterday was just that, the international day of persons with disabilities and I was invited by BC PEOPLE FIRST. I am a proud member and I always jump at the opportunity to express my loud voice.
The rally was at the Vancouver Art Gallery and was organized by BCEdAccess. It was a slightly cold day and was mostly attended by parents. The rally had a stronger focus on educational access but it was also important that other disabled voices came in to play and I am thankful for the opportunity to be integrated in to such an important discussion.
I was so proud to stand on the steps and read out my speech. I am incredibly comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. I don’t get butterflies, I get adrenaline.
Here’s my speech in a text format:
Hi Vicky,Just wanted to send over my speech.
I am Margaux Wosk. I am here with BC PEOPLE FIRST.
I am an openly disabled, Autistic self-taught artist, designer – I design and sell Neurodiversity & Autistic Pride merchandise and I have an etsy shop, I am also an activist and advocate.
Identifying as disabled versus “person with disabilities” is a personal choice. It is never anyone else’s place to dictate how I identify or ask me to change the language I am using. I am not “differently abled” and I do NOT have “DIVERSE ABILITIES”, to insinuate that my abilities are different or diverse is incredibly offensive. I still have my strengths and weaknesses but it’s important for me to clarify that my abilities are NOT diverse.
My abilities are limited and I need additional support. I am struggling.
Personally, choosing to not use the word disabled contributes to the erasure and lack of resources that I, and many others, are fighting so hard for. My disability is not an accessory.
Remember, Autistic children become Autistic adults. Include us in all of the conversations about Autism Funding.
I am joining all of you here today to stand united in the core belief and HUMAN RIGHT that disabled children and adults DESERVE AND REQUIRE SO MUCH MORE. Asking, begging and pleading for the very minimum for years is exhausting. We need to be heard. Action needs to be taken and quick.
As a child with learning disabilities growing up in Vancouver, I was often bullied, ostracized and left out of things that I should have been integrated into. Instead, I was pulled out of my class in front of the other students who would laugh and belittle me while I went off to the learning assistance classroom. There, I would have very flawed support . I would then put back in to the classroom to endure more harmful behaviour from my peers.
I was confused, depressed and anxious. My mum would always say that I was “falling through the cracks” of the system. Moving around from school to school was traumatizing. I never ended up graduating from high school and instead got my GED.
Now, as an adult, I would love the opportunity to take graphic design courses to enhance the skills I have already gained, but the barriers are too overwhelming.
First off, I would have to take out a loan. I am not in the position to take on any debt.
Secondly, there’s fluorescent lighting which is incredibly debilitating for me.
Thirdly, I would have to spend more money to prove that I have attention deficit disorder, dyscalculia, which diagnoses were on a piece of paper that got lost through the years – on top of my Autism Diagnosis. These evaluations are NOT FREE.
For an adult autism diagnosis, it can be very expensive. Some assessments are around 2,500 dollars. Without this glorified piece of paper, many adults are unable to access PWD which also requires a lot of focus, determination and hoops to jump through – just to be able to apply. Applying doesn’t even guarantee that you will be approved, either.
If the government is not providing our youth the strength and resources to have a fulfilling future, we are failing them!
If the government is not providing adults with additional resources, we are also being failed.
On top of those concerns, if someone, like myself, does not choose a path of being employed by someone else, but has goals for self-employment: the resources are limited there as well. Did you know that BC DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT month does not even include disabled people who are self-employed? We are NEVER empowered. Oftentimes, the narrative is “How can able bodied, allistic people in positions of power, utilize disabled people for their own benefit?”
If we don’t start fixing things, like removing isolation rooms and cease ostracizing students, we will ALWAYS be at the mercy of someone who does not have our best interests at heart. We will not be able to contribute, in our own way, when there are people who are so quick to have us morph into their idea of what a perfect, behaviourally modified young person needs to be.
I addressed many of my concerns at the 2022 BC provincial budget consultation and based on their report, many of the topics that BC PEOPLE FIRST and I spoke about were not addressed.
We are simply not empowered to be independent. Our disabilities are often ignored. We deserve adequate treatment, we deserve accommodations, we deserve help and we deserve financial assistance. Listen to us. Make changes. Provide funding. I’m NEVER going to stop fighting. Change needs to happen NOW.
And here’s my speech in video format: