I am from a family of three brothers and five sisters in Nova Scotia. I was put into a class for people who are mentally retarded but I proved them wrong. I did learn. My uncle believed I could read and write and he taught me.
When I was living in the institutions I went to a sheltered workshop. The difference between the workshop and a real job was that in the workshop I worked for eight hours a day all week for $10. People thought that I couldn't do anything so they had me packing dolls. I did really silly, boring jobs. If people keep telling you that you can't then you start believing it all. Geoff, my best friend, failed to follow the rules. The staff decided he should go to a large institution. They put a straitjacket on him and now he's dead. He gave up.
In the workshop I had to sign a document to say that I was permanently unemployable. At the age of thirty-one, I got a job with People First. It was my choice; it was what I wanted to do. It's an office job but also involves lots of traveling. I travel and talk to people in the community who have learning difficulties. I tell them stories.
They don't have friends and I bring them faith and hope. A real job is going to work where people call you an employee. It's getting a real check that you can live on. No one has the right to tell you that you are unemployable.