Liam Gale of Medicine Hat is one of 13 Canadians featured in the Beyond My Face facial differences awareness campaign video.
The Beyond My Face campaign was created by AboutFace, a national non-profit organization which advocates for and provides support to individuals with facial differences. AboutFace describes “a person with a facial difference (as) anyone whose appearance, from the neck or above, has been affected by a congenital (from birth), acquired (after birth) or episodic (comes and goes) condition or syndrome.” The campaign aims to raise awareness about facial differences and destigmatize the topic.
“The Beyond My Face campaign is about moving beyond the stigma that many people with facial differences experience,” Gale told the News. “There are approximately 2 million people with facial differences in Canada for a variety of reasons … We need to talk about it more and address some of the issues that occur, such as discrimination and bullying.”
Gale explained that individuals with facial differences often experience bullying in childhood, which can extend into adulthood.
“There’s sometimes, a public reactance to (facial differences). Many people with facial differences are seen as diseased, or as infections, which is not the case. As well as things such as employment discrimination, especially for people who are going to be front line of care.”
Danielle Griffin, executive director of AboutFace, said, “As a society, we’re behind in recognizing that people who look different continue to encounter barriers to education, employment and other basic opportunities. The video is a call to action for people to build more inclusive spaces for people with facial differences.”
Gale and close family members have been involved with AboutFace for approximately 15 years and they are grateful for the support the organization provides. Gale hopes the Beyond My Face campaign will inform the public about facial differences and prevent others from facing such stigma.
“I think this campaign can bring forward advocacy to a wider audience in Canada,” said Gale.
Anyone interested in supporting the campaign can sign a virtual pledge to end discrimination on the Beyond My Face website, share the video on social media or donate to AboutFace.
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News