Awakening Hope: A Critical Analysis of the Stigmatization of Children with Disabilities in Nigerian Families and Communities
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This Major Research Paper (MRP) in York University’s graduate program in Critical Disability Studies (CDS) explores the stigmatization and marginalization imposed on Nigerian-Canadian children living in Canada. Canada has attempted to recognize the rights of people with disabilities, but people with disabilities still face discrimination and substantive barriers. For many Nigerian families living in Canada, as with some other Canadian families, when a child is diagnosed as having a disability the entire family faces immediate stigmatization and rejection within the local community. This problem may be greater for Nigerian families living in Nigeria but this MRP focuses primarily on the issue within Canada’s borders. Aspects of this MRP are applicable to anyone living with a disability but it focuses primarily on Nigeria-Canadian children and families. Utilizing a multilayered methodological approach that is auto-ethnographic, historical and comparative, this MRP explores the disabling impacts of the stigmatization and marginalization that are imposed on Nigeria-Canadian children with disabilities living in Canada. The auto-ethnographic component of this MRP is based on a narrative of the author’s personal experiences of disability in order to expose a variety of barriers that impede the ability of people with disabilities to participate in an inclusive environment, institutions and communities. On the basis the author’s personal experience working with Nigerian families having children with disabilities, it is evident that some Nigerian immigrants bring attitudes of shame and rejection towards people with disabilities with them when they migrate to Canada. Nigerian families with disabled children also face disabling expressions of racism and exclusion in the Canadian educational, medical and immigration systems. After exploring the multiple factors causing isolation and rejection in the lives of Nigerian children with disabilities, this MRP suggests a number of strategies to foster inclusion and awaken hope in the lives of these children.