The first detailed a new project spearheaded by KW Habilitation that will see a 22-unit building developed in Kitchener. When completed, the project will provide affordable and accessible housing for people with and without a disability (click here to read the story).
The second article emphasized Community Living Ontario’s disappointment over the proposed conversion of a former Jesuit college into a 70-unit residence for people who have physical and intellectual disabilities on the outskirts of Guelph (click here to read more about the proposal).
The inclusion of both articles in Update Friday has sparked a lot of conversation from people connected to the Community Living movement.
Community Living Ontario and its member organizations strive to assist people who have an intellectual disability and their families to lead the way in advancing inclusion in their own lives and in their communities. Community Living Ontario has no doubt the KW Habilitation model will provide opportunities for people of all walks to have homes of their own and to fully participate in their communities. However, if the proposal in Guelph is approved, it will set the province back down the path towards institutionalization, something the Community Living movement has fought against for decades. Community Living Ontario is also aware of similar projects being proposed in other communities across Ontario.
We are not alone in our opposition to these project, either. Natalie Spagnuolo and Kory Earle co-authored an article that was published in the July/August 2017 issue of The Monitor, a publication from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives titled Freeing our people: Updates from the long road to deinstitutionalization. We encourage you to read Natalie and Kory’s article. You can do so by clicking here.
The article talks about the many examples of segregation past and present that prevent people from living rich, inclusive lives in their community. The Guelph proposal appears to be another of these examples.
According to Chris Beesley, CEO of Community Living Ontario, “The rhetoric from supporters of this proposal will no doubt centre around “inclusion” and “community oriented”, terms which have lost their meaning as pro-congregating/segregating groups continue to co-opt these words to describe models that are anything but inclusive or community oriented.
A number of our member organizations have also voiced their strong opposition to proposals like the one from Guelph and elsewhere.
“I know that Community Living Associations foster community inclusion and are opposed to these models as this is part of the slippery slope that leads to grouping people together that are already marginalized by society and will lead to further social isolation,” said one executive director, whose opinion was shared by many others.
We all have a role to play in not only preventing institutions from being reestablished, but also demolishing the institutional mindset that is still so pervasive in our communities across Ontario.
In the coming days, in addition to a much broader engagement strategy, Community Living Ontario will be reaching out to the Jesuit Province of Canada and Angel Oak Communities regarding the proposal, as well as to the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Premier’s office regarding the proposed conversion of the former college and how we can best support everyone to live inclusive lives and have valued social roles.
In addition, Community Living Ontario is working with the Council of Community Living Ontario and People First to ensure that self-advocates not only have a voice on this issue, but can provide solutions to obtaining homes of their own.
Ron Laroche, Community Living Ontario