NDP MLA Anne Kang hopes to begin a dialogue to end the stigma around stuttering

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      Today in the B.C. legislature, a rookie MLA revealed that she has personally struggled with stuttering.

      Anne Kang, the NDP MLA for Burnaby-Deer Lake, made the comment in a speech pointing out that October 22 was International Stuttering Awareness Day.

      "Stuttering can pose real problems in both the personal and professional lives of those suffering from it," Kang said, according to the draft Hansard transcript on the legislature website. "It can also take years to get the stuttering under control. I understand how embarrassing and frustrating it feels." 

      Kang, an immigrant from Taiwan, is the parliamentary secretary for seniors, a three-term Burnaby city councillor, and a former music teacher.

      "The reason why I'm sharing this information with everyone today is because I want to begin a dialogue and destigmatize stuttering," she said. "People are often so focused on one particular issue or person that they forget how unique each and every one of us is, and they often overlook the person's wonderful qualities and amazing accomplishments."

      She noted that some people consider stuttering to be a disability whereas others feel it's part of their identity.

      "Regardless, many of us have seen people joke about stuttering or have seen people made fun of because they were stuttering," Kang said. "That is just cruel, hurtful and very offensive. We must speak up against unacceptable comments and behaviours to people who stutter."

      She told MLAs in the legislature that famous stutterers include Winston Churchill and actor James Earl Jones.

      "By celebrating International Stuttering Awareness Day, we are celebrating the diversity of our province," Kang declared. "By standing here today, I am making a statement that a stutterer can be the voice of the people. To all of the people out there living with stuttering, don't let it define you and don't let it limit you."