[My dear readers, I come to you with a request. The following letter has been emailed and sent by mail to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, the Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities, as well as my MP.
IF YOU ARE CANADIAN: Please post your support of what I’m asking here. That disabled Americans be allowed to immigrate into Canada and receive access to Healthcare as well as become a part of this great nation.
IF YOU ARE AMERICAN: Please post in the comments about how President Trumps and the Republican Congress and Senates actions have put you or your loved ones at risk in the last few days. I will be including a link to this post in my email.
ALL READERS: Tweet this to the Prime Minister @CanadianPM]
January 28, 2017
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
CC: The Honourable Ahmed D Hussen, The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Anita Vandenbeld
To the Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
I’m writing to you as a proud citizen of this country to beg and plead for the lives of my loved ones. Since Mr. Trump’s election many of those closest to me have been scared of what the future holds for them. They belong to various vulnerable communities: trans people, gay people, people of colour, people who belong to non-Christians faiths or no faith at all, and especially disabled people.
In the days since President Trumps inauguration, that fear has turned into outright panic. In just his first week, Mr. Trump has enacted and encouraged policies that will lead to the deaths of millions. His policies show a clear movement towards eliminating the social and physical protections granted to those most at risk for abuse.
One of the communities most vulnerable in the coming years, the one already being targeted not just by the President, but also by both the House of Congress and the Senate is people with disabilities. Already the process has been started to repeal the few protections they managed to scrounge in the last few years. Moreover, there are strong suggestions that this current regime will look to scrap even those insufficient services like SSI or Disability Support Payments, and Medicare/Medicaid – the federally provided insurance for those with low income and the elderly.
While not the only community that will suffer in the coming years, it is the one that has the least possibility of escape. You see, people with disabilities are actively kept from being able to immigrate except in the most extreme of circumstances. In Canada, like in many countries, certain disabilities have been marked as being unworthy of acceptance into Canada. Our government has made a decision to impart a financial value to human life, and disabled people have been categorically deemed “not worth it”.
Disabled people are told that they are not worth keeping alive on a daily basis, even here in Canada. In most cases disability support is a joke, a life jacket meant to keep us alive when we are drowning in a frozen sea. We are disproportionately represented among the poorest of society, have among the highest rates of sexual assault victimhood, and are frequently at risk of abuse and murder at the hands of caregivers. Those of us in Ontario who rely on Trillium Insurance are not unfamiliar with what it means to be told we are too expensive to keep alive. Those of us living on OSDP know what it is like to try and get by on insufficient funds while being begrudged even that much.
We are told daily that we are worthless.
I am a disabled Canadian. I am also a published author, a university graduate, and an outspoken activist. My artwork adorns the office of one of your own MPs. I do my best to contribute to the greatness of Canada, regardless of the fact that my disabilities prevent me from being able to work traditional jobs.
Among the many disabled people I know from the US, who are viewing the upcoming pogroms against them with mounting terror, there are so many who would benefit Canada with their very presence. They are teachers, artists, writers. They are caregivers and activists. They are mothers and budding entrepreneurs. They are educators in many different fields. But most of all, they are human beings who are about to fall victim to a mounting genocide against those who cannot afford to pay for the most expensive medical care in the world.
As Canadians, we subscribe to a series of values that was codified by your own father when he established the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Among those values is protection for the most vulnerable in society. We believe that everyone has the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their skin colour, their sexual orientation, their gender identity, their religion, OR THEIR ABILITY. We believe in healthcare for all, knowing that treatment, preventative care, and diagnosis cost less in the long run when addressed early, but more than that knowing that healthcare is a fundamental human right.
These values cannot be allowed to stop at the borders. They cannot be granted conditionally based on how much they are going to cost, especially when we know that rejection will have an even higher cost: that of a human life. As a country we testified to this belief as signatories of the UN Human Rights.
It is to Canada’s shame that we turned our backs on the most vulnerable in the years preceding and immediately following the Holocaust. The blood of every refugee who was killed and/or tortured because they were denied entry is on our hands and on our souls forever. Please, help us not make this mistake again. We are standing in the gaze of history once more, and this time, I am begging you to make us Proud to be Canadian.
Anna “Ania” Bula
Author of Young, Sick, and Invisible
Painter of Stolen Lives currently displayed in the office of Anita Vandenbeld, MP for Ottawa Nepean