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Published on Nov 3, 2014
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The doors to public education were closed to our children. We raised money, set up our own schools and hired teachers. We believed in the right of our children to go to school. Eventually so did the government. We then fought for all kids to learn and grow together in our neighbourhoods.
Our family members belonged in community. Others said they belonged locked up in institutions. We fought for their freedom.
We fought for their right to marry. To vote. To work. Rights that everyone should be born with, but that they never had, until 1969 when they were recognized by the UN.
We lobbied not so that our voices would be heard, but so that people would listen to theirs.
People began studying the issues, values and practice were changing and the acceptance of human rights violations was fading quickly.
We started to close institutions.
Our sons and daughters became advocates for themselves.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms finally recognized full citizenship status to people with developmental disabilities.
The People First Movement called on us all to move beyond labels.
We watched with excitement when the first Canadian with a disability, a woman from BC, addressed the UN general assembly.
We celebrated, as BC became the first province to finally close the last of its institutions and when it became the only jurisdiction in the world to safeguard decision-making rights for people with disabilities.
We stood together as the walls of Woodlands came tumbling down, acknowledging the brutal truths of institutions.
Our movement was started by a group of parents who worked tirelessly, fearlessly, to create a better BC.