Nearly 10 years ago, Huronia, Rideau, and Southwestern Regional Centres, the last large government-run institutions for people labeled with an intellectual disability, closed forever.


We know that creating and maintaining such institutions was one of the most harmful things we have done as a society. Despite the doors of the institutions having been closed for nearly a decade, institutionalization remains.


People continue to struggle. Harmful and controlling approaches still occur, and people are sometimes required to give up their rights and liberties—not all people are respected and welcomed citizens.


Organizations within the disability community, including institutional survivors, People First of Ontario, and the Council of Community Living Ontario, have organized Flying to Freedom to commemorate the closures, examine how we change attitudes and prevent people from being institutionalized, and commit ourselves to creating a fully inclusive society.


Taking place on Tuesday, March 19th at the Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue) in Downtown Toronto, there are two opportunities to join others from across the province to commemorate the 2009 closures and to discuss the steps being taken to move past institutional practices in the community:


Download the flyer here.


1 PM – The Journey from Institutionalization

Hear and learn about engaging and diverse projects that are addressing institutionalization and supporting survivors and people who have an intellectual disability to lead meaningful lives in the community.


Click here to see the list of panels and to register.


6 PM – Birds Make Me Think About Freedom

Created by L’Arche Toronto’s Sol Express, in collaboration with Victoria Freeman and Jumblies Theatre, Birds Make Me Think About Freedom reflects on our humanity inspired by the stories of people institutionalized for being labeled with developmental disabilities, their families, and friends. The play goes to dark places by touching on sensitive material regarding institutional mistreatment. However, it doesn’t end there as it delves into thoughts and discussion on freedom, hope, choice and living on our own.


A reception will take place in the Jacobs Lounge immediately following the performance.


Click here to register.

Please note: While both events are part of Flying to Freedom, separate registration is required to attend each event.


Flying to Freedom is presented by survivors, People First of Ontario, Council of Community Living Ontario, members and friends of Community Living Ontario, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, and L’Arche Toronto.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I purchase tickets?

Register for the presentations here and for performance here. The events are pay-what-you-can to provide access to those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend. Donations will be accepted at the door.

Is the theatre wheelchair accessible?

Yes. Wheelchair seating is located at the back of the auditorium. Please locate the front of house supervisor when you arrive, and they will be happy to escort you. If you wish to notify us in advance regarding the use of accessible seating, please contact the theatre’s Bookings Coordinator at 416-924-6211 x269 or by email at

When can I go into the theatre to get a seat?

Doors to the theatre will open 30 minutes before the presentation AND the performance.

How do I get to the theatre?

The Al Green Theatre is located in the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (750 Spadina Avenue, Toronto) at the southwest corner of Bloor Street and Spadina Avenue. To access the theatre by the TTC exit at the Spadina Station on the Bloor or University subway lines. There is ample parking on Spadina Avenue, Bloor Street, and various side streets in the area.

Where can I have dinner after the presentations and before the performance?

There are a number of restaurants within walking distance of the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre. Here’s a short list: Pizza Pizza, Second Cup, Pizzaiolo, Tim Hortons, Crepes a Go Go, Pita Q, St. Louis Bar and Grill, Fresh on Bloor, and Sushi Maido.

What hotels are nearby?

The following hotels are all within walking distance of the subway line:

Madison Manor Boutique Hotel – 20 Madison Ave.
Kimpton St George – 280 Bloor St. W.
Intercontinental – 220 Bloor St. W.
Toronto Marriott – 90 Bloor St. E.