April 14, 2020
By the time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a press conference announcing that Canada was closing its borders and Ontario premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency across the province, I had already been cooped up inside my Toronto home for days. It was not because I had taken prescient isolation measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 — it’s because I am disabled and social isolation is a lifestyle that I have long been accustomed to.
Society’s Adapting To Isolation. As A Disabled Person, I Hope The Changes Stick
My disability causes chronic pain and fatigue, and can be unpredictable. But I only came to realize just how isolated I had been living when my abled Friends began to cancel plans and stay in every night. It was especially tough seeing them navigate the social and emotional repercussions of isolation for the first time, knowing my own experience just weeks before wasn’t met with the same level of understanding and accommodation.I hope that when social distancing comes to an end, that non-disabled people will take a few lessons away from this, and the weeks ahead will prepare everyone else for how to include me — and people like me — more fully in society when this pandemic is over.
A 2019 study found that 38% of disabled-identified Canadians and 27% of Canadians with mobility challenges who don’t identify as disabled experience high levels of social isolation and loneliness. I can tell you this loneliness feels manageable on the first (or even 14th) day of a painful flare-up, but every passing moment takes a mental toll.
For me, April in isolation will play out a lot like my February and March. I leave my house about once a week to gather necessities. I may not feel human contact for up to two weeks at a time, and never really know when I might be able to spend time with others. And I’m no stranger to cancelling plans for the sake of my own health. 
I have worked from home since leaving a full-time office Job because of health problems, and almost exclusively seek workplaces that allow remote work. I found that as soon as I made working from home a requirement, I received fewer and fewer calls back from interviews. I spent years on social assistance to make ends meet during the months when I couldn’t get enough work to cover my bills.It really highlights how little our experiences as disabled and marginalized people matter, until our experiences become universal.I make trips to the grocery store as efficient as possible. My cupboards have always been full of pasta and canned food, and my freezer is full of frozen veggies. I know it could be weeks before I could physically handle a follow-up trip to the grocery store (let alone be able to cook the produce I did end up buying). This is an experience I share with other disabled people, as we’re more likely to be unemployed and to live in poverty, according to Statistics Canada. 
Now these challenges are becoming just a little bit easier to deal with (depleted grocery stores from panic-stricken shoppers aside), because now everybody is affected. Though I may not be eligible for Trudeau’s pandemic benefit — it’s tricky proving I lost freelance work due to COVID-19 — the benefit is twice the maximum entitlement available to me through social assistance. Everything from social gatherings to work suddenly takes place online. Grocery stores have resorted to online delivery and pick-up orders.
It really highlights how little our experiences as disabled and marginalised people matter, until our experiences become universal.
“Community care,” or interdependence, is the belief that people should rely on one another rather than individual efforts for their well-being, especially in the absence of larger structural supports.
Before the pandemic, community care is how I and many in the disability community survived. I’ve had friends help me with chores, find me work, order me food, send me money, and drop off groceries when I’ve been too sick to work or take care of my home. In turn, I’ve shared money when I’m on longer contracts, helped connect friends with job opportunities, and contributed my editing and writing skills.Everybody needs this kind of support when we’re facing collective anxiety and trauma.So when social distancing became government-mandated, the disability community was well prepared to look out for one another. Two different friends who also do work in disability activism check in on me and offer to drop off groceries. Others arrange phone dates and regular check-ins, same as they did when I last found myself isolated at home, physically weakened by a particularly brutal winter.
While they may seem like simple gestures, these instances keep me grounded and offer relief amid a pandemic. Everybody needs this kind of support when we’re facing collective anxiety and trauma. 
My mental health is actually improved for once, largely because I don’t have to worry about cancelling plans when friends and I can meet virtually. I have spent so many nights curled up on the couch, trying to manage a sudden pain flare with a cocktail of painkillers, topicals and medicinal marijuana, instead of going out with friends. And it would devastate me every single time.
Now, between the memes and my friends’ Instagram stories where they languish over the existential boredom of being forced to stay at home, everyone seems more sympathetic and eager to lend one another support. I see my abled friends sharing resources, checking in on their friends, staying in virtual contact, and finding ways to collaborate while still being far apart.
I hope this attitude outlasts the pandemic.
I hope that I never have to hear “I wish I could stay home all the time” ever again, and instead see more people checking in on their disabled and chronically ill friends.
I hope that it won’t be the end of live-streamed events and group video chats. 
I hope that it will bring the end to fighting employers for accommodations like remote work.
I hope that it will teach us not to only value each other based on how much we “contribute” to the economy, and end the way we punish those who aren’t able to work or are excluded from “higher-skilled” jobs.
And I hope it pushes people to recognize that social isolation and inaccessibility is and has always been a problem, and that we’ll see schools, workplaces and events become more accessible.
This article first appeared on HuffPost Canada Personal
Have a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on ukpersonal@huffpost.comMore from HuffPost UK Personal Protecting Yourself From Coronavirus Is Proving Harder For Disabled People Like Me Feeling Isolated? Spare A Thought For Those Of Us With Sight Loss During Lockdown Coronavirus Panic Is Even More Real When You Have Hypochondria
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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