Breaking Free: Institutions Then and Now
"As we face a new reality due to COVID-19, we felt that it was a good time to look back and reflect on a not-so-distant past where people with intellectual disabilities were sent to institutions, where they were isolated without proper support and stimuli, and shuttered away from society. As there are correlations to be drawn with the situation many of us are facing in the current context, we hope that these discussions will inform and inspire us to keep fighting for our rights and those of our family members living with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Session one will focus on the history and legacy Rideau Regional Centre, one of the largest institutions in an Ontario-wide system of institutionalization that was shut down in 2009. We will hear from family members directly affected by this institution, as well as from a former resident, who was also the litigant for the successful class action lawsuit on behalf of former RRC residents and their families. A questions and answers session will follow the 40-minute presentation.
Please note that this session is for adults – the topics covered and the nature of the discussion may be very difficult for some, and could trigger strong emotions. We encourage everyone to have support mechanisms in place, if appropriate, prior to participating."
Victoria Freeman, author of A World Without Martha: A Memoir of Sisters, Disability, and Difference, will be speaking in session one of this series.
Victoria Freeman is a writer, theatre artist, and public historian. Her new book, A World without Martha: A Memoir of Sisters, Disability, and Difference was shortlisted for a 2020 Lambda award. She is the co-creator, with L’Arche Toronto Sol Express, of "Birds Make Me Think About Freedom," a play about the experiences of peoples institutionalized for intellectual disability, and is on the advisory board of Uncovering the People’s History, which documents the stories of institutional survivors and their families for Family Alliance Ontario. She also co-wrote the "Talking Treaties Spectacle" with Ange Loft of Jumblies Theatre, which was performed in 2017 and 2018 at historic Fort York in Toronto and By These Presents: “Purchasing” Toronto, a film about the Toronto Purchase. Her previous book, Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America, was shortlisted for the 2000 Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.
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