I was asked to provide facilitation and a keynote address of sorts for “Violence and Trans Women of Colour: The Intersections,” an event hosted by Carleton University’s Carleton Equity Services, Graduate Students’ Association, Carleton University, and CUSA Womyn’s Centre as part of the university’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week. While my remarks during the event did not exactly match what I prepared, the original material is now here for others’ perusal.
[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. Continue reading “Make Canada Proud: Disable Genocide”
I received an invitation from one of my partners to attend their Sunday service at Ecclesiax, a church in downtown Ottawa, and out of curiosity, I attended. It was an interesting visit, and I’m glad I added this unusual event to the series of religious presentations I have personally experienced. Like all the others, though, it’s not one I’ll be repeating if I can avoid it.
Mi familia no está aquí.
My family isn’t here.
I feel like I have a special relationship with grief.
There are many incidents that remind me of my mental difference, the divergence in my neurology that makes “normal” people a ceaseless, discomfiting puzzle. One stands out in my memory, though, for the sheer spectacle of that difference: the time I was stuck in an elevator for the better part of an afternoon.
CN: Police Brutality, Violence against Black and Disabled people,
Yesterday a black man with a cognitive disability was accosted and then violently beaten by cops. These days, it seems like every day brings a new story along these lines, except this time, it happened in Ottawa, Canada.
We unfairly and unjustifiably pride ourselves on being better here in Canada. I’ve even had angry people messaging me telling me I am being unfair and spurious in claiming that racist police violence happens here.
They had 5 cops against 1 man.
He was on the ground when they beat him with their sticks.
They beat him so badly, he may not live.
They beat him despite people in the area telling them he was disabled.
They beat him because they didn’t see him as human.
This happened in my city. This happened in a neighbourhood close enough to mine to be one I pass by regularly.
We need to start paying attention. We need to get off our fucking high horse and stop patting ourselves on the back, because better than the genocide that is going on in the US isn’t good enough. Because ignoring the genocides going on within our own borders because the body count isn’t going up as quickly as it is in the US, ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH!
WE NEED TO DO BETTER.
This happens in Canada, and turning away and pretending it isn’t happening is the same as condoning it.
UPDATE: Abdirahaman Abdi, the Somali-Canadian man who was violently beaten by cops in Ottawa has died. His brutal assault is now murder. May he rest in power, and may his family get justice for what was done.
This year will most likely be the last year that I attend the Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology’s yearly symposium. This small-scale conference is advertised internally, and draws its attendees almost exclusively from the two university biology departments that comprise the OCIB. As a graduating Ph.D., I’m unlikely to either get those advertisements or have the open schedule required to be present on subsequent occasions. It has served as a way for biology students at the two departments to meet and get to know one another, for people to become familiar with the research going on elsewhere at the Institute, to practice for higher-stakes presentations at larger conferences, and to attend curated talks from well-credentialed and diverse researchers in various related fields. I have never found attendance at the OCIB Symposium to be wasted, not even the year where they got that weirdo suggesting we start using Aristotelian teleological models to better understand parts of biology.
(For those not in the know, those models also underlie much Christian philosophy and therefore Intelligent Design.)
This year, though, was marred by two instances of tone-deaf, science-illiterate microaggression that only get to keep the “micro-” qualifier because I’m not prepared to accuse these two speakers of deliberately attacking the autistic and transgender communities. Yet.
To the Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to the Honourable Premier Kathleen Wynne:
My name is Ania Bula, I am a citizen of Canada living in Ottawa, and currently a recipient of Ontario Disability Support Payments (ODSP). I am also a registered medical marijuana patient.
I receive this prescription to help me manage the symptoms of moderate-severe Crohn’s disease. As a quick background: Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune condition that affects my digestive system. Symptoms can take place anywhere from the mouth down to the anus. This condition causes my digestive system to become inflamed and swollen, which in turn causes it to be very delicate. During flares, the inflammation can be so bad that the lightest pressure causes the membranes to tear and ulcerate, causing blood loss. The inflammation can also cause blockages in my intestines that need to be operated, a loss of digestive ability leading to malnutrition, as well as causing severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Needless to say, it is not a pleasant condition to have.
I have been treated for Crohn’s, in addition to other conditions, for close to a decade. The primary medication I receive is an immune suppressant by IV once every 6 weeks.
The prescription marijuana serves two purposes. The first is symptom management. Marijuana helps with pain and nausea control. Without it, many days are too painful for me to function appropriately. I cannot get out of bed, I cannot keep food down, I become malnourished and have to be admitted to hospital. Once there I am usually prescribe harsh steroids which, while helping minimize the flare, also causes damage to bones and joints already ravaged by this and other conditions.
Because I can take marijuana in ways other than through oral ingestion, it makes the pain treatment more effective. Frequently, the swelling in my intestines prevents more severe oral medications like dilaudid, Percocet, morphine, and others, not to work effectively. Moreover, the side effects of opiates can often mirror some of the same symptoms I am already dealing with like nausea.
I take small doses of marijuana throughout the day, which helps me get work done: either paid work like writing, or even just domestic chores like making dinner. For me, marijuana has been the thing that has helped the most when it comes to regaining some semblance of normalcy when it comes to quality of life. It has kept me out of the hospital on more than one occasion. It has helped me feel human again, when many of my conditions conspire to do the opposite.
In addition to symptom management however, marijuana also helps actually treat my condition. Studies have shown promising results when it comes to difficult cases such as mine. Many patients who have not responded to conventional therapies alone, have managed to go into remission when given the added treatment of marijuana.
Why am I telling you all this.
Recently, under the direction of Prime Minister Trudeau, the Canadian government has started the process towards legalization of cannabis. While this news makes me happy, there is a much more pressing issue facing patients that I believe could be addresses even before legalization can officially happen.
Medical Marijuana, ever since the new rules put forth by the Harper Government, is not covered by insurance. Not even that provided by ODSP.
The cost of marijuana is high. The standard dose of 1 gram per day can run you about $10 per day. For those of us with larger prescriptions, the associated cost is even higher. Often patients are forced to choose worse or less helpful strains in order to deal with the cost. My prescription can cost me up to $600 a month. As someone who lives on a fixed income from ODSP, that number is far beyond what I can reasonably afford. As a result I have had to go into debt to get my medication, borrow money from friends, ask strangers on the internet for monetary help, and sometimes make the decisions between groceries or my meds.
This is not a decision that should ever have to be faced by patients. Even if the mmj was only for symptom management, it would still be an essential part of my treatment. The increased stress surrounding the ability to get my medication also has negative side effects on my conditions itself, which are sensitive to anxiety and stress.
I am asking you to please help patients like me. To work to make our medicine a help and not an additional burden. Healthcare is, I believe, an integral Canadian value. We’ve built a national identity out of being the country that cares for its sick, and I am asking you to please continue that tradition. Help us get our meds covered. Help us not have to struggle to get treatment when already living on an extremely fixed income.
Writer of Young, Sick, and Invisible