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Disability Pride: self-determination and solidarity

Valerie Lannon

October 10, 2014

“Ain’t no power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop.” This was one of the first chants ringing out from a vibrant protest through downtown Toronto for the October 4: the Toronto Disability Pride March. The march followed a rally at Queen’s Park, a site deliberately chosen to highlight the shortcomings of the Wynne government, especially its Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and the limitations of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
The event was held to “bring recognition of the struggles and value of disabled people as we fight against ableism and other forms of oppression; to encourage cross-disability solidarity and community building; to be visible and show that we have a voice in our community and a right to be heard by taking to the streets; to celebrate and take pride in ourselves a as a proud community of disabled people.” Disabled people in Toronto are a very diverse minority, and the major goal of the march is to unite disabled people in support of each other.
In keeping with these objectives, several speakers, including Onar Usar (York University), David Meyers (Ethno-Racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario), Kevin Jackson, and Melissa Graham, spoke to the central goal of the movement, which is to ensure self-determination for people with disabilities. They stressed two main strategies to achieve this goal. First, all those with disabilities need to stay united and not divided by type of disability, or other background such as culture, sexuality, gender or class. Secondly, they invited all in attendance to continue demonstrating solidarity with all others facing oppression, whether they are disabled or non-disabled.
This marked the fourth Disability Pride March, an event that had its genesis with the Occupy movement in Toronto and will be continuing on to a fifth march next year.

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