Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sad & angry about the tragedy

Like many of you, I was shocked to learn the circumstances surrounding the death of an 11-year old autistic child in Edmonton, killed by his father, who then in turn killed himself. The heart-rending interviews with social workers and others who outlined the details leading up this tragedy made me feel sick. How could, we as a society, have failed so miserably to provide the supports and services this family desperately needed? Given the unbearable circumstances, would any of us fared any better? Can we imagine what it would feel like to experience that level of despair, that utter lack of hope?

Before we begin pointing fingers and assigning blame, I think we need to pause and reflect. Collectively, we need to own our part in this tragedy and begin to actively engage in dialogue about the gap of inequity that is growing daily in Alberta. The "Alberta Advantage" is a cruel joke to many Albertans. Some members of our society are being pushed to extreme measures because we don't invest sufficiently in the resources, the health care beds, the supports in schools and reasonable workloads for our social workers. Our most vulnerable citizens are being repeatedly victimized by our choices and priorities. Choosing to invest in things like horse-racing or golf courses or perks for the wealthy and connected sends a cruel message to those who are already living on the fringes. Whenever we remove supports and services, children and families invariably pay the price.

I want to know when Alberta will go back to "women and children first" philosophy that my grandparents believed and lived. Alberta was pioneered by people like my grandparents who worked hard and helped others whenever they needed help. We need to return to our true nature.

My deepest condolences to the family and those affected. I only hope we can learn something from this.

2 comments:

Chris LaBossiere said...

Sue:

Very well said, and thank you for saying it. I thought myself about blogging on this topic, but for the reasons you mentioned, I don't feel that this issue should result in a pointing finger as much as a collective feeling of sorrow and re-alignment of priorities.

Again, well said.

Anonymous said...

sad and angry, too. but I wonder. I was stunned a few years ago to discover that Alberta had the "best" autistic child treatment options, leading to thousands flocking here from other provinces to take advantage. Made me wonder at the time whether Albertans would be shortchanged as a result.
And then there's the whole mess at children's services. Read Ken Chapman's blog for one opinion. But it's a system that is so messed up....