In a move unheard of in Cobourg a local activist has been uninvited to a speaking engagement because of of her presumed activity in local “harm reduction” activities.
Missy Mclean is a controversial active member of the Community. She is an activist in the “Harm Reduction” campaigns in Cobourg. She has the temerity to state that drugs should be decriminalised and supports the establishment of “Overdose Prevention Sites.
In doing so she has incurred the wrath of some of the Community. This venom has manifested itself in the cancellation of the speaking engagement at the local High School (CCI).
In a story by the local TorStar media – Northumberland News – here, it appears that in a phone call from a vaguely self-identified caller from the CCI “McLean said she received a short phone call from someone who identified himself as Jamie (James Patenall is the CCI principal), who essentially notified her that it would be “inappropriate for me to participate. He caught me off-guard because he talked so quickly and I didn’t know who he was at first,” said McLean, of the call from Patenall. “And, then he said “that the school was unaware of all of my advocacy work and that they needed to take a trauma-informed approach to this event and that required them to adjust the scheduling and that meant moving to two speakers instead of three.””
Missy Mclean then went on to say, “I wasn’t asked to come to the school to talk about substance use. That wasn’t the topic of the talk I was asked to give. I was asked to come and talk to Grade 8 female-identifying students about leadership, empowerment and goal-setting, which I was excited to do. I hadn’t spoken to any staff or administrators at all. If they had asked me what I plan on talking about or if they had said we’re worried about you talking about X, Y and Z, that’s a dialogue we can have. But to immediately make an assumption that (I) would come into the space and not understand the assignment of the talk I was asked to give is a hurtful assumption.”
The back-story to this is simple – flyers were distributed in the School, Parents became annoyed and pressure was applied to remove Missy Mclean. Mclean’s reaction to this is a simple explanation, ““Members of (the) ‘No Hard Drugs in Cobourg’ group began to formulate a plan to complain and they have every right to express their concerns. It would have been nice to have been given an opportunity to respond to those concerns.”” McLean said she only knows about the ‘No Hard Drugs in Cobourg’ Facebook group link here, (which is moderated by these two guys – Jeff McLean and Gerry Childs and as at the time of writing this Private group had 224 members) as people have concerns for her safety and have sent her screenshots of material posted on the site.
But the problem here, as we see it at the BurdReport, is that the CCI failed to explain just why Missy Mclean was invited to talk to Grade 8s about “Day of Empowerment event” and when she was uninvited did not have the courtesy to ask about what she might tell 13 year old girls about empowerment. The CCI caved to a blackball campaign and that is sad.
To say “advocacy work” is a detriment, and “inappropriate” to the invitation is odd. Surely advocacy work is empowerment in the extreme and pertinent to the event. To imply that 13 year old girls might be triggered into drug use by the the presence of Missy Mclean is condescending, girls of that age probably are more aware of the dangers of drugs than the complaining parents.
All we can say at the BR is that we are in favour of all speakers at events that are relevant to the issue of the event. If that means one has to listen to people who hold divergent views, but not expressed at the event – so be it. To those people who did the blackballing we would say “You are wrong to do this, kids should not be used to push your points of view.”
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