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Truths of Institutionalization:
Past and Present

A Self-Guided Learning Journey

Inclusion Canada, People First of Canada, and Community Living Ontario have worked together to make a digital interactive curriculum for youth. The curriculum draws attention to the different ways people who have an intellectual disability have been institutionalized in Canada-in both the past and the present. The six modules are geared towards a grade 10 classroom but are relevant for anyone looking to dive into the topic.

There are over 30 video segments that follow the story of Nicole, a young Canadian searching for the truths about institutionalization in Canada. On her journey, she meets survivors, family members, allies, experts, decision-makers, and other youth. You will travel the learning journey through her eyes.

Two guidebooks are included with the modules – one for educators and one for youth. Educators will be provided with detailed lesson plans for each module and instructions for teaching the historical inquiry process. Youth will receive instructions to follow as they explore each module along with activities and discussion topics that will help them think deeply about the content.

Below, you can explore the topics covered in each module. Pre-register to gain early access to the curriculum and to be invited to the launch event!

Content Outline

Module 1: A Hidden Truth in Canadian History

  • An introduction to institutions of the past
  • Survivor and Family insights
  • More historical context
  • An interactive timeline of human rights in Canada

Module 2: The Power of Perceptions

  • How institutions came to be (cause) and the impact (consequence)
  • Four social movements and their connection to institutionalization
  • Impact of traumatic experiences on people’s identity, power and control, and behaviour
  • Nine survivor testimonials

Module 3: Institution Watch

  • The De-institutionalization movement
  • World events that shaped our perceptions of disability and models of care
  • Present-day deinstitutionalization in Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia
  • Where is Canada now?

Module 4: O Canada! When will we be free?

  • The Fight for Freedom
  • Exploring the United Nations Convention and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • Expert perspectives on education, community living and family experiences

Module 5: Understanding Patterns of Segregation

  • Evidence of institutionalization today
  • Case Study: The Emerald Hall Human Rights Case in Nova Scotia

  Module 6: Youth Take Charge

  • Why youth should learn about institutionalization
  • Case Study: A youth-led Community Change Project
  • Looking at your own privilege, power, and freedom
  • Youth are future leaders
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