Honoring Tracy Latimer

(5 November 1997) — I wanted to say that I appreciate your organization's attendance at the trial and your defense of Tracy and others before the media. I read the Latimer Watch entries on the CCD web page and today was moved to reply because of what you wrote about parents. I am appalled at Latimer's defense of "necessity". I try to be an ally of people with disabilities. My own brother was banished from our family at birth because he had Down's Syndrome. He died alone in a horrible institution of pneumonia at the age of 8. I continue to miss him and wish I could have given him my love and help.

I have worked for 30 years to close institutions, change attitudes and help people get the support they need from each other. My oldest son—Matthew—is 23 now and uses an electric wheelchair, a computer communication device, sign language, went to regular school, is trying to get a job, has individual funding, directs his own supports, etc. I work now as a Co-ordinator of the Building Inclusive Schools Project across Ontario to help schools work with people with disabilities, students, families, etc. to restructure schools and provide regular classroom supports. In my other life, I work with Family Alliance Ontario to help families create opportunities for full participation for family members with disabilities.

We have been appalled that Latimer is not seen as the murderer he is. We fully support your group's position, and share your disgust that some people who call themselves advocates allow excuses to be made. We were further alarmed when Ryan Wilkieson was murdered by his mother in Ontario. I feel that our groups should push the "authorities" (CAS, police, etc.) to watch over any parent who says he understands what Latimer did, and thinks parents should be forgiven. I fear that these people's children are at immediate risk. For example, when Latimer was first convicted there was a mother from Victoria quoted in Macleansas saying that her daughter would be next, if she didn't have to go to jail. She should not be left unsupervised with her daughter now.

I wanted to share some of my family's ideas, hoping that they help us join together to save people's lives and opportunities. You are welcome to use them in the Latimer Watch.—Marilyn Dolmage

Questions for my Mum's Little Brother (Uncle) Robert

Why they let you disappear I will not understand,

To never wipe a teary face, or grip your tiny baby's hand.

Instead your mother was directed to forget the life she gave,

Was it a relief for her when they laid you in your grave?

Your short life and untold story are perhaps our greatest loss.

If this is the price of ignorance and fear, then tell me what's the cost?

How many children just like you were taken from their homes,

To live and die in institutions, remembered only in these poems?

This world that stole your breath in exchange for peace of mind,

Gave you fluorescent lights and crisp white sheets claiming to be kind.

If you were still alive today, would you put them in their place,

Reminding them that difference is what makes the human race?

Your voice was lost so long ago, was it ever really there?

For what is a cry worth, if it does not fall on ears that care?

I'd like to think you smiled a lot, and that you had no fears,

But I cannot reconcile the truth with what I want to hear.

by Leah Dolmage


On a small town street corner

In a double baby stroller,

Big brother and his baby sister

Matthew and me,

And Mum taking us to the park,

Looked upon as oddities.

The nosy woman outside the post office,

Pities the unfortunate bunch.

So sorry 'bout your birth.

Tsk. Tsk. 'it' will never walk,

Just look at that small head and crooked back!

Surely such a sickly thing will never learn to talk.

And I, not talking or walking myself, return the stare

With icy knives and challenge her to tell me:

Who asked her, what's she afraid of, and who is 'it'?


The post office corner of our youth

Expands into the empty halls and mind

Of our elementary school principal.

After recess I heard that Matt had fallen from his chair,

But when I went to see if he was hurt

I found myself sitting opposite the balding ogre.

I bit my lip then, but if anyone else tries to tell me

My own brother is no business of mine. Watch out!

I'm never scared when I know I'm right,

And I'm not afraid to fight.


We are not so little anymore, and the tables have turned.

Belt on and batteries charged, Matt leads me through the mall,

Winding and weaving around and through the mobs of people.

Go ahead and watch us if you like.

We don't mind, if you don't.

Besides, we're on our way to another battle (video games).

But if you happen to hold that stare too long,

Not realizing that you've stepped into his path,

Matt cannot be held responsible for the throbbing in your toes.

And I for one will gladly back him up.

His momentum carries me

And I have grown quite fond of this rear view.

by Leah Dolmage
June 1997