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Roch Longuepe, Founder & CEO, Restoring Dignity, Address to the Nation on Special Needs

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. This country needs a national strategy on disabilities. Without
it, more of these incidents will continue and our country will regress further.
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.