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Re: We must be able to speak openly about mental health if we are going to reduce the stigma

After reading Sandi Treliving’s wonderful column, I feel motivated and compelled to share my own life experiences.

I was born with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a high-functioning form of autism. Living with autism has been no cakewalk.

Throughout my life, I’ve never been blessed with a core group of friends that I could count on for support. When I was in school, I often kept to myself because I could never relate to the mob mentality among cliques. So I basically spent lots of time floating around.

I’ve been judged, misunderstood, ostracized and rejected from social circles. I’ve struggled in many different situations such as dealing with coworkers in previous jobs, and driving. For many years, I used to pretend that I was not born with a learning disability. Yet the more I was in denial, the worse I felt. I have finally decided to let go and let the cards fall where they may. Accepting the fact that I have autism has finally brought peace to my life. This lifelong condition is part of who I am as a human being, and I’m very proud of myself.

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I would like to give a message to those who cannot see past the stigma of autism. No one should feel sorry for me. I’m not asking for any sympathy whatsoever. Whatever others think of me is none of my business and I can only live my life for me. Nobody else. Also, never refer to me as “autistic,“ as it sounds very condescending and narrow-minded. A person with cancer is not “cancistic,” just as a person with autism is not “autistic.” If you’re going to talk about people with disabilities, then please watch your language.

Michael Bardouniotis, Surrey

Canadians need to learn about horror of residential schools

I have seen many letters agreeing or disagreeing on Indigenous issues, but they sure got this one right. Not only do Indigenous people have every right to know all the facts and information that they deserve, but “all” Canadians need to know the relationship with the schools’ and churches’ seemingly horrific history.

I grew up and lived my life unknowing or paying any attention to this story. I was blind, but now I want to see.

 Hugh Shirreff, Vancouver

Re: Body found off Highway 1 near Hope identified as 19-year-old

The language in the story in the crime section regarding the body found in Hope describes the murdered victim as having a “transient lifestyle” and as having “been known to frequent downtown Vancouver.”

These descriptions of the victim are suggestions of some kind of blame on her part. No, sadly, she is, importantly, a murder victim. Full stop. Shame for victim-profiling.

Linda Grant, Victoria

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