We are back here once again. March 1st is the day on which we come together to mourn the death of Disabled people who have died as a result of abuse, neglect, or murder at the hands of their family or caregivers. This day was started in 2012 by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, following the death of 22 year old George Hodgins, who was murdered in California. Since that day the list of those murdered has only grown. A consistent pattern in these deaths is the poor media coverage that accompanies them. Consistently, these murders are portrayed as mercy killings, justified by the supposed burden Disabled people place on our families, and our communities.
And, even as this list has grown there have been many names uncounted. The names of those who have died of suicide as the result of living with the consequences of ableism are not on this list. The names of people who died at the hands of police because their impairments and systemic ableism lead to them being seen as “non-compliant”. The list takes more than half an hour to read, and still there are those whose deaths have not been acknowledged and mourned.
It is past time for change. We’ve had enough. We are tired.
It is time for the larger society to acknowledge that Disabled people’s lives are worth living. I don’t know what to say beyond that; what words will convince non-Disabled people to care about Disabled people when we are murdered. I can only say what should be simple truths. We are not monsters. We are not tragedies. We are not burdens. We are human.
LAST has been unable to host an in person vigil this year. These events take a great deal of labour, and particularly emotional labour, to organize and unfortunately circumstances were such this year that we were unable to organize an in person vigil. We think that it is very important that events like this are done right, and presented with supports in place for those who might find the subject matter triggering, and that just wasn’t possible this year. We are hoping to be able to host an in person vigil again in future years. In the meantime we would like to take this time to post the link to ASAN’s online vigil.
Here are the links to the speakers from last year’s vigil:
The list of names read at the vigil can be found on The Disability Day of Mourning website
This type of subject matter can be difficult to process. If you are experienceing distress and need to speak to someone please consider using one of the following resources:
Distress and Crisis Ontario: Click Chat Now on the top of the home page for text based support
Reach Out: Crisis support for anyone living with mental health or addictions concerns in Elgin, Oxford, Middlesex and London. Click the Chat Now on the website or call 519-433-2023.
LGBT Youthline: Call: 1-800-268-9688 or Text: 647-694-4275 or click to chat at the top of the homepage
At^lohsa Native Family Healing Services: 1-800-605-7477
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a hate crime, or you have information regarding a hate crime:
the London Police’s Hate Crimes Helpline can be reached at: 519-642-1900 *be aware that this helpline is an initiative of the London Police Service, and only call it if you are comfortable being in contact with the police.