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July 1, 2014

Canada Day, Democracy and Purpose

Last fall, the Liberal Party campaigned on this issue:

  • Create a more accessible Nova Scotia for persons with disabilities by appointing an Accessibility Advisory Committee with a mandate and strict timeline to develop accessibility legislation for Nova Scotia.
This effort got underway last Tuesday, announced as follows:

Panel Will Help Make Province More Accessible, Inclusive

Department of Community Services

June 24, 2014 12:08 PM

Government is acting on its promise to make Nova Scotia a more accessible and inclusive place to live and work by creating the Minister's Advisory Panel on Accessibility Legislation.

"Government made a commitment to create new legislation that will make the province more accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities," said Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard.

"This panel brings together a diverse group with experience and expertise that will make sure our legislation delivers on that commitment and ensures all Nova Scotians have equal opportunity to reach their potential." 

In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal that I am one of 20 or so members of this panel. I have high hopes.

Perhaps we can pause this Canada Day to remember that accessibility legislation honors the spirit of the nation as much as the parades and fireworks. This important work is the fulfillment of a promise made to all.  This legislation will say more about Nova Scotia than about people with disabilities.

Langston Hughes, an American poet, would probably forgive me for paraphrasing his poem:

I, too, sing O Canada.
I am the different brother.
They feed me crumbs in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"No room at the table for you,"
They'll see how capable I am
And be amazed--
I, too, am Nova Scotian.

And, since I am borrowing from others, here is a repurposed paragraph from Drew Faust's letter about the poem.

It is time for us to ensure the fundamental justice that guarantees every member of this community an honored seat at the welcome table. Every group that makes up this richly diverse province must feel confident in affirming, “We, Too, are Nova Scotians.” We are at once many people, one people. That is our strength.

Gus Reed

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