Disability Activism and Publications

Martha Freeman

Martha Freeman (1958-2002)

Also see my activities with Sol Express under Performance, Theatre, and Readings.

Speaker for launch of Truths of Institutionalization: Past and Present, A Self-Guided Learning Journey, a curriculum project led by Community Living Ontario, Inclusion Canada, and People First of Canada, July 21, 2021.

Contributor to Truths of Institutionalization: Past and Present, A Self-Guided Learning Journey, a digital interactive curriculum for youth led by Community Living Ontario, Inclusion Canada, and People First of Canada. The six modules are geared towards a grade 10 classroom but are appropriate for a general audience. See the website for early access.

‘”Shut up Kid!’ An Education in Institutional Disability,” presentation for  Doing the Right Thing: Disability, Autism and Special Education, Enoch Turner Schoolhouse Foundation virtual series on Opening the School to All,  January 12, 2021.

Was Your Sibling Institutionalized for an Intellectual Disability? Co-hosted online sibling sharing event for Uncovering the People’s History Project, Family Alliance Ontario, Dec.1, 2020.

Missing persons – on the loss of a sibling to institutionalization, interviewed by Genia Stephens, with  Marilyn Dolmage and Vici Clarke, Good Things in Life Podcast Series, Nov. 18, 2020.

Love and Accountability in the Face of the Tyranny of the Normal, podcast interview about A World without Martha, Good Things in Life podcast series, with Genia Stephen, November 11, 2020.

Hi Victoria. Yesterday I listened to your interview with Genia Stephans and felt compelled to reach out. Your views, experiences, and insights resonated with me personally and professionally. In the late 70’s I helped return institutionalized citizens to their rightful place in community in Halifax. Decades of social work experience with marginalized people and parenting a son with disabilities nurtured deep roots in social justice. Too often the voices of family get ignored or dismissed by the system. I applaud you for daring to bare your experiences, vulnerability and fallibility. The world needs to hear your voice! – Susan Dunnigan

“Who Speaks? Who Tells? Who Listens?” Parts 1, 2, and 3, posts for the blog Active History, May 8, 2020; May 15, 2020; and May 22, 2020 , on the issue of voice and disability. Part 1 focuses on the process of writing A World without Martha; Part 2 discusses the research and co-creation of Birds Make Me Think About Freedom; and Part 3 is an excerpt from A World without Martha.

A World without Martha: A Memoir of Sisters, Disability, and Difference, launched October 2019 from UBC Press. My book-length memoir chronicling more than five decades of policy and social responses to developmental disabilities through an intimate portrait of the impact of my sister’s institutionalization on my sister, my family, and me.

Birds Make Me Think About Freedoma multidisciplinary performance work about the institutionalization and de-institutionalization of people labelled with intellectual disabilities, co-created with L’Arche Toronto Sol Express. Premiered at Toronto Fringe Festival, July 6 to 15, 2018. Project Co-Lead, with Cheryl Zinyk. Lead Artist. Patron’s Pick Award. Remount: March 19, 2019

“Birds Make Me Think About Freedom,” a presentation with Cheryl Zinyk, Nicholas Herd, and Melissa Marshall at the Emergence Symposium, Toronto Arts Foundation, November 20, 2018.

Listen to My Story: A Workshop for People Supporting Institutional Survivors, panelist, October 26, 2018, Ryerson University. Organized by Madeline Burghardt. Funded by Investing in Justice.

Listen to My Story: A Workshop for People Supporting Institutional Survivors, L’Arche Toronto, May 11, 2018. Panelist. Organized by Madeline Burghardt. Funded by Investing in Justice, the Institutional Survivors’ Strategic Investment Fund, and by l’Arche Toronto.

“Martha Matters: Surviving My Sister’s Institutionalization,” my section of a joint article called “ Unheard Voices: Siblings Share About Institutionalization,” with Marilyn Dolmage, Colleen Orrick, and Madeline Burghardt, Canadian Journal of Disability Studies special issue on Institutional Survivorship, Spring 2017.

“Martha Matters: Surviving My Sister’s Institutionalization,” Canadian Disability Studies Association Conference, Calgary, May 28, 2016.

Panelist, “Narratives of Separation: Siblings Share About Institutionalization,” Canadian Disability Studies Association Conference, Ottawa, June 2, 2015.

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