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“In Nova Scotia, there are no homes for people with severe physical disabilities,” King’s alumna Jen Powley, BJ’01, MFA’15, said. “In Nova Scotia, the province simply puts them in nursing homes. That’s not adequate.”
Powley, who authored the award-winning biography Just Jen: Living Through Multiple Sclerosis, founded the organization “No More Warehousing” has started an online petition calling on the Nova Scotia government to build more homes for people living with severe physical disabilities.
“People with severe disabilities deserve the right to live in their community.”—Jen Powley, BJ’01, MFA’15
A ruling earlier this year found three Nova Scotians had been discriminated against under provincial human rights legislation when they were confined to a hospital for three years. This week the province was fined for how it treated the three Nova Scotians and forced to find the surviving patients adequate housing.
“People with severe disabilities deserve the right to live in their community,” Powley said. The long-time disability rights advocate received the Lois Miller Tulip Award earlier this year. The annual award, named for King’s alumna Lois Miller, BA(Hons)’65, recognizes someone who demonstrates the spirit of independent living and enables people living with disabilities to have control and informed choice over their lives.
Powley’s petition reads, “On February 28, 2019, EcoGreen Homes and I, Jen Powley, a person who is quadriplegic due to progressive multiple sclerosis, presented a proposal to the Department of Community Services for a four-bedroom unit with shared-attendant care in a new mixed-use building on Gottingen Street. This unit would keep me and three other young adults out of a nursing home at a cost comparable with that of housing us in a long-term care facility.”
The province has yet to respond, according to Powley. She said waiting for nine months without hearing anything is frustrating for her, but it must be infuriating for the developer. Pointing to the targets set by the Nova Scotia government, Powley is uncertain when they will receive an answer. “As is stated in Access by Design 2030, the goal is to have a fully accessible province by 2030. I thought starting with one building was a good idea.”
Just like the Lois Miller Tulip Award suggested, however, Powley is choosing not to give up the fight for her independence. “That’s what every adult wants. I don’t think that just because I am disabled I deserve less.”