Valeria Kuri is an immigrant settler from Mexico who came to Canada as a child with her mother and brother. She is a proud first-generation student and the first person in her family to go through the post-secondary education system in Canada. She is currently (and finally) finishing up her four-year combined Masters of Social Work and JD program at the University of Windsor. She is dedicated to and passionate about criminal law, Indigenous law, human rights law, and the intersection of all three areas. Valeria has been a Research Assistant for Professor Laverne Jacobs since October 2017 and is currently the senior RA on the Law, Disability, and Social Change Project. She has been heavily involved in her law school through various extracurricular, mentorship, and volunteer initiatives and currently serves as the Vice President of the Shkawbewisag Student Law Society, President of the Women of Colour Legal Alliance of Windsor, and Founder & Co-President of the Disability Student Law Society of Windsor. She had the pleasure of joining Professor Sylvia McAdam as her TA for the 1L mandatory Indigenous Legal Orders course in the Spring and Fall of 2020. Valeria is currently finishing up a mandatory MSW Advanced Placement Internship at an agency in Kitchener-Waterloo supporting children with developmental disabilities and their families as they connect with community resources. She is committed to supporting folkx from disenfranchised and targeted communities, with a particular focus on supporting Indigenous Peoples and persons with disabilities as they navigate the legal system through an intersectional, decolonial and anti-oppressive approach.
“As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the already existing inequities faced by people from disenfranchised and systemically targeted groups, especially when there exists an intersection of social identities like disability, race and gender.
i. In what ways have you experienced or seen the impacts of Covid 19 on people with disabilities from racialized communities?”
Valeria Kuri: “It is hard to ignore the disproportionate effects that COVID-19 has had on members and groups from disenfranchised and/or historically targeted communities, especially people who experience oppression and discrimination in many forms due to intersecting social identities, like disabled folks from racialized communities. These impacts include higher rates of COVID-19 infection as well as escalated instances of racism, harassment, discrimination, loss of employment or housing, disruption of education, and social isolation. In my experience as a racialized student attending law school in a virtual format for the past year—or nearly three school semesters—and as the President of the Disability Student Law Society, I have seen the disproportionate impacts that disabled students and students with accommodation needs have been facing in isolation. These include potential increased health risks associated with fears of COVID-19 infection, increased fatigue and exhaustion, technological or connection issues, inaccessible course delivery, unprecedented social isolation and uncertainty about the future. Disabled students had to deal with lacklustre and ableist accommodation processes prior to this pandemic, and now that we are actively in the middle of it, we continue to face exhausting processes and attitudinal barriers while tuition and academic expectations have not budged. On top of these experiences, racialized students—especially Black and Indigenous students—who are disabled and/or have accommodation needs have also been dealing with an increase in explicit anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism on university campuses across this part of Turtle Island known as ‘Canada’. Their experience with “online law school” has been drastically different for racialized students with disabilities and it needs to be properly addressed by institutions moving forward.”