Krista Milne helps spread the word about appropriate language in Don’t Be That Person. (Screenshot)

Krista Milne helps spread the word about appropriate language in Don’t Be That Person. (Screenshot)

VIDEO: Language matters, say Self Advocates of Semiahmoo, following Chilliwack trustee’s use of R-word

Education video released early in light of inappropriate comment

Semiahmoo Peninsula self-advocates are weighing in on the power of language, following a Chilliwack school trustee’s use of the ‘R-word.’

The comment by Barry Neufeld – made in a Nov. 19 Facebook post aimed at three Black Press Media employees – has prompted early release of a video addressing harmful language that was created by members of the Self Advocates of Semiahmoo (SAS) as part of the group’s ongoing efforts to “make change through positive relationships.”

READ MORE: School trustee under fire again – this time for offensive slur at Chilliwack journalists

Dubbed Don’t Be That Person, the video (shot by Sea to Sky Media) is about best practices for speaking to and about people with diverse abilities, and features self advocates Jeevan Basra, Danielle Burns, Krista Milne and Michaela Robinson.

Milne, 33, said Monday that many people don’t understand how powerful words can be, and the impact that they can have.

“Language is really important because… words mean something,” Milne told Peace Arch News.

In the video, Milne enters a coffee shop where Basra and Burns are talking about their weekend. Milne uses the R-word to describe her own weekend, at which point, the video cuts sharply to Robinson, who asks for a “more respectful” choice of words.

“When you use that word, you’re making fun of people with diversabilities,” Robinson continues.

In a retake that follows, Milne rewords her statement to say, “You won’t believe what happened to me over the weekend.”

That language, Robinson notes, is “not putting anyone down.”

“The diverse-ability movement is important. Let’s make positive changes, so everyone feels important,” she says.

Burns told PAN that she’s had firsthand experience with the R-word, and that she was “kind of disgusted” to hear of the incident in Chilliwack.

“I’ve been called that word, and it’s not a nice word to be called. I honestly think this person… should apologize,” she said.

Burns said the SAS video is even more important in light of the incident.

“We try to educate people not to use this word,” she said.

Basra, who attends Sullivan Heights Secondary, said learning of the word’s recent use made her feel disrespected, and that she was surprised that somebody in a position of power would have to be educated around such language.

Don’t Be That Person was originally created for use in Equally Empowered presentations in schools – which share “positive messaging on how all people can: self-advocate (stand up for themselves), help their community, and help others.”

Its concept came from Semiahmoo House Society summer student Catherine Grimme, after she noticed a gap in education when it comes to the disability movement and the capabilities of people who have developmental disabilities.

The video also complements a report on language that was recently released by the Self Advocate Leadership Network (SALN).

The 32-page report – distributed to nearly 100 self-advocate groups, politicians, disability sector organizations and community groups across B.C. – cites a “never-ending struggle” by people with disabilities to be heard and listened to.

“Over and over, we are asked to ‘come to the table,’ be a part of a consultation,’ ‘asked what we think and our opinion’ about language… but nothing seems to change,’” reads part of an explanation for why the report was created.

“We understand language is different all over the world, but there are basic principles of respect, kindness and inclusion.”

SALN co-creator Alexander Magnussen described Don’t Be That Person as “quite different from SAS’s typical approach to awareness building,” and said for that reason, SAS wanted to ensure it was properly promoted and given proper context when it was released.

“With current events, SAS feels that the video needs to be released now.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

chilliwackdisabilitiesSurreyWhite Rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building at 1485 Fir St. was turned down by council on Monday night. (Contributed rendering)
White Birch developer feels ‘betrayed’ by City of White Rock council

Application for new rental building at 1485 Fir St. turned down by council

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

File photo
Surrey to borrow $150 million for three major recreation projects

That’s for a sports complex in the city centre, a sports and ice complex in Cloverdale and a community centre in Newton

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read