It was an ordinary summer day. People were milling on the main thoroughfare, bikes zig-zagging through traffic, cafés and pubs spilling onto the sidewalk, patrons sipping their way through a lazy Friday afternoon. We were ordinary that day too. Just another family, managing the hectic jumble of kids' lessons, bills, our careers, endless streams of birthday parties, too little sleep and the occasional date night out. But it was all shattered with a single word: autism.
This suggests that simply shifting our language from "epileptic" to "person with epilepsy" can alter the way others think about those living with epilepsy. Employers, colleagues, teachers, and peers may think of their friends differently if we all start referring to "people with epilepsy" instead of "epileptics."
In September of 2013, Jocelyn Leda Simard was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and bone metastases. Her family was told that she would likely not survive to see Christmas. Shattered, but strong, her family members refused to give in to despair. It was then that her son, Justin, came up with an inspiring idea.
Unfortunately, extreme weather events are becoming all too common, as they turn out to be more frequent and furious than ever before. Environmental advocates are quick to point out the "teachable moments" by linking the drastic weather patterns to climate change. However, they need to walk the fine line to ensure that they don't come across as overzealous or self-righteous in their attempts to spur public engagement, as this could turn people off and thwart even their most sincere and genuine efforts.
In free societies, people must be free to speak any language they wish. Quebec will not make French stronger by trying to weaken English. All people should be proud of their language and speak it well, and all people should recognize that it is an advantage and an enviable condition to speak more than one language. As Paul-Émile Cardinal Léger put it, "It will not be by laws, regulations, fines, and harassments, that a language is promoted. It is by speaking your language in a way that to hear it, others will wish to speak it also."
The mere fact that the media has zeroed in on Tagalog as the fastest growing immigrant language, and the public's surprise of this so-called linguistic phenomenon, is telling of the social insignificance of Canada's third largest ethnic group. Sure, Filipinos are common props in fast-food restaurants, hotels and homes, but their lack of political and economic weight renders them invisible despite their large presence and 24/7 work cycles.
I feel really lucky to have met a bunch of different people in a bunch of different settings since moving here. But now I'm at the point where I'm looking to move forward in these relationships. What's been difficult is that I lack the language skills to communicate with people beyond what I would share with a new person or casual acquaintance. So now I find myself stuck on the surface or obliging other people to speak with me in English.