Truths of Institutionalization: Past and Present

Community Living Ontario / Truths of Institutionalization: Past and Present

Truths of Institutionalization: Past and Present


The Project

Working with
the Canadian Association for Community Living and People First of Canada, Community Living Ontario is participating in the development of a digital interactive curriculum with six modules and a video series that will teach youth about Canada’s history of institutionalizing people who have an intellectual disability. The project will also support the implementation of youth-led awareness projects in schools and communities. It is funded by Canadian Heritage and will take place over the next two years.


The Purpose and Outcomes

The aim is to raise national awareness about the harm of institutions and the impact of the history of institutionalization in order to prevent the use of institutional models and practices today
  – meaning any place which people who have been labelled as having an intellectual disability are isolated, segregated and/or congregated.  We want young people with and without a disability to grow a consciousness for the harm that has been done. We want them to understand the implications of institutionalizing people who have an intellectual disability as it’s been experienced in the past and continues to be experienced today.


The Partners

Inclusion Canada: A national federation of 13 provincial/territorial associations and over 300 local associations working to advance the full inclusion and human rights of people with an intellectual disability and their families.

The Government of Canada: This project has been made possible by the Government of Canada. Ce projet a été rendu possible [en partie] grâce au gouvernement du Canada.

Community Living Ontario: A non-profit provincial association that has represented people who have an intellectual disability and their families for over 65 years.

People First of Canada: A national non-profit organization for men and women with an intellectual disability supporting each other to reclaim our right to be recognized as full citizens. 

The Two-Year Rollout

Year 1

Research: It will begin with a series of focus groups taking place across Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia. Community members who are part of the disability movement, including survivors, allies, educators, and organizations are invited to attend these sessions to inform the development of the curriculum modules

Analysis: With the help of youth advisors, the partners will analyze feedback received from the focus groups. A framework will be created to identify the focus of each module and the learning objectives of each lesson.

Year 2

Testing the material: Partners will run trials of the modules on a variety of groups. Any adjustments required to increase the accessibility of the digital platform and to enhance the learning experience will be made.  If you are interested in testing out the materials or hosting a trial, please contact Emily Branje by email: ebranje@communitylivingontario.ca or by phone: 416-447-4348 ext. 249.

Spreading the message: Once we are confident that the materials are ready, teachers in Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia will apply the modules to their classroom’s curriculum. Funding will also be allocated to youth-led community awareness projects. The projects will support youth to share what they’ve learned with members in their community.


How can I get involved?


If you would like to participate in a focus group to inform the development of these learning materials, please RSVP with Emily Branje by email: ebranje@communitylivingontario.ca or by phone: 416-447-4348 ext. 249. NOTE: Only those who RSVP will be able to attend.   

If you would prefer a one-on-one interview in person, by phone or by video chat please fill in the stakeholder survey found HERE and the event coordinator will contact you.

Focus Group Dates

Nova Scotia

Dartmouth: Sunday September 22, 2019

Orangedale Cape Breton: Tuesday September 24, 2019

Truro: Wednesday September 25, 2019

New Minas: Thursday September 26, 2019

Clare: Thursday September 26, 2019

Yarmouth:  Friday September 27, 2019


Winnipeg: Monday, November 4, 2019

Steinbach: Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Selkirk: Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Winnipeg: Wednesday, November 6, 2019


Toronto: Friday, November 1, 2019

Toronto: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Guelph: Friday, November 15, 2019

Toronto: Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Toronto: Friday, December 13, 2019

London: Monday, December 16, 2019