An interview by the Ottawa Citizen with Taylor Hyatt, a Carlton University student who lives with cerebral palsy.
On Feb. 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s assisted suicide law, opening the door to assisted suicide (Carter v. Canada).
This is an incredibly complex topic, one fraught with moral and ethical issues. This interview with Taylor Hyatt, a Carleton University student, gives her opinion from the perspective of a Canadian with a disability.
Tell us about your disability.
My disability defines my life. I was born three months prematurely, and as a result I have spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. I use a walker or electric wheelchair for mobility.
Do you feel that you are treated differently are a result of your disability?
Growing up, I was treated quite differently. I lived the first 19 years of my life in a small town, with many of the same people in my class every year. I stood out socially in the worst way. Normal teenage recklessness never really appealed to me. I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm and I take academics very seriously. I would rather be found with my nose in a Jodi Picoult novel than out at a party. On top of that, school accommodations and the general inaccessibility of my area meant that I had to maintain closer relationships with the adults in my life — physical therapists, teachers, and my family. One of the most prominent examples: I can’t drive, and public transit in my area left a lot to be desired. Nobody wants their mom chauffeuring them to the mall if they’re a day older than 16. I’m grateful that I was able to get the help I needed, but my circumstances didn’t do me any favours. In a nutshell, most of my peers had no idea what to do with me.
How have things changed for you over the past years?
Moving to Ottawa (which I now consider my hometown) for university was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I am now surrounded by a much larger and more diverse group of people in a city that is better equipped to serve residents with disabilities. I found my place quite quickly… sometimes I’m still amazed at the difference between my life now and what it used to be. Right now, I’m in my last year of a linguistics degree at Carleton University — one of the most accessible schools in Canada. I’m living in an accessible residence room with full-time attendant care provided through the school and I’m on a waiting list for an accessible apartment