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Roch Longueépée, Founder & CEO, Restoring Dignity, Address to the Nation on Special Needs Children.

Roch Longueépée, Founder & CEO, Restoring Dignity, Address to the Nation on Special Needs Children.

March 18, 2015

The Charles-Lynch Press Conference Room Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery Room 350-N, Centre Block Ottawa, Ontario, K1A OA6

We represent the family of Daniel Ten Oever. On behalf of Daniel Ten Oever's family. Our role is providing advocacy support to the family.

As you have already heard we have requested full disclosure of records from the school and school board on behalf of Daniel Ten Oever's family. We were clear to the school and school board that there was no intention to involve lawyers or legal complaints. The school board responded by sending their lawyer. That lawyer threatened to personally sue me for allegations of 'defamatory comments'. This is a terrible response and only serves to frustrate and prolong Daniel's safe return to school. We have identified and helped the family to retain legal counsel. I will be very clear, the family will have complete and full disclosure of any and all records pertaining to their son.

In these cases the use of policing services has to be examined. Hard questions must be asked without fear of reprisal, without the threat of stigma. In our view thus far, and it is unlikely that will change, we do not see the police at fault here. What is clear from numerous advocacy groups is that the school is supposed to have properly trained staff to deescalate a crisis like the one young Daniel found himself in. The question remains, was it appropriate for the school to involve the police?

We will be seeking public donations for legal fund for Daniel's family. We will announcing more information on this at a later date.

We are also aware of the story of a fourteen year old autistic boy who is being processed through the justice system. The Youth Criminal Justice Act was intended to deal with criminal behavior, not behavior which is caused by an impediment. The behavior from these children are not of their own making nor choosing.

These stories as horrific as they are, are symptoms of a larger problem. Canadians living with

disabilities are facing a national crisis.

it, more of these incidents will continue and our country will regress further.

This country needs a national strategy on disabilities. Without

We believe that the incident which happened to Daniel Ten Oever is not an isolated incident. Since the family of Daniel Ten Oever went public with their family's story, others have come forward and we expect more will continue to come forward in the weeks ahead. For that reason we are looking to speak with any families of special needs children past or present, who have had similar experiences with services under the auspices of schools or school boards throughout Ontario. You can reach us via email at investigations@restoringdignity.org. You can also call our tip line at 1.613.454.5996.

I want to share some words from an Autism group on the passing of Leonard Nimoy. These words represent an expression of hope from those living with disabilities such as autism, and those that care for and love them.

" The character of Spock -- who was literal and used logic in all things - helped our culture see the value of different neurologies. He was brilliantly played by Leonard Nimoy. I see a character like that, equal to his peers, and I say to myself "It is possible".

These words are the collective hopes of our founded democracy, of the hope which our founding fathers of confederation wished to impart for all of us. Every individual has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

Historically, the disabled have faced systemic discrimination, eugenics, sterilization, and other human rights atrocities and death. From these, 'medical' and 'moral' models have encompassed further human rights violations against disabled persons. Canada has a very dark past when it comes to the treatment of children under the guise of institutions. The allegations set out in these cases echo those that have arisen before.

The continuing dark chapter of society's most vulnerable is a stain on our nation. It is not just a problem for these individuals or their families who love them - it is our collective problem, our collective responsibility. It is not the way of humanity. it is not the way of our intended democracy. We can do better. We must do better. We will do better. Our Charter of Rights assures us of this - Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “It is possible".

Can we stop this bleeding'? The choice is up to us.