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On February 16, 2016, the Province of BC tabled its budget. People with disabilities received a small increase to their disability benefits but there was a catch. The $77 per month increase was tied to the cost of a person's transportation. Read more. Sign our petition here.

Watch our 60th Anniversary video that honours and remembers the civil rights history of people with developmental disabilities in BC. Read more about our history here.

Institutions and People with Developmental Disabilities

In the past, it was common practice to label people with developmental disabilities as "mentally retarded" or "mentally handicapped" and place them in institutions, or in segregated schools or workplaces, where they had few rights.

The institutionalization of people with developmental disabilities began more than a hundred years ago in BC with the creation of a large institution in New Westminster, first called the Provincial Asylum for the Insane and later known as Woodlands School, or just Woodlands. Other large institutions - Tranquille, Glendale, and the Endicott Centre - were later created around the province. People with developmental disabilities lived in these facilities apart from their families and communities, sometimes for their whole lives.

This short video chronicles the closure of insitutions in BC and honours the history of the community living movement.

What's wrong with institutions?

We now know that institutions cannot begin to tap the potential of individuals to learn, participate and contribute to their communities. They isolate people from family, friends, and communities. And increasingly, we are finding out that they create high risk environments for abuse and neglect.

The experience of the past few decades has shown that no one needs to be separated from their community because of a disability. Living among family, friends and neighbours fosters new abilities and creates communities where everyone is welcome. Even those who require extra support or specialized care have a better quality of life when they receive care and support in their home and community, rather than in an institution.

The Change to Community Living

One of the primary goals of the movement for "community living" has been to close institutions and help people return to communities and participate as full citizens. The movement was started mainly by family members who dreamed of a better life for their sons and daughters who lived in institutions, who wanted them to learn in school, have friends, and be welcomed in their community.

People with developmental disabilities also began to advocate for their own rights to live as full citizens, and created the "self advocacy movement."

As a result, attitudes towards people with developmental disabilities have changed dramatically over the last few decades. In 1996, BC became the first province in Canada to close all its large institutions for people with developmental disabilities. Today, people who were once segregated from society are meeting new neighbours, co-workers, schoolmates and friends, and participating as citizens in their communities. That's what "community living" is all about.

What is Inclusion BC doing about institutions?

Inclusion BC continues to advocate at the provincial and national level for the right of people with developmental disabilities to live as full citizens in their communities. Even though BC has closed its large institutions, there are no guarantees for future generations. Institutions remain open in other provinces and many parts of the world, and invisible walls continue to isolate people, even when they live in the community. Our national federation, the Canadian Association for Community Living, is campaigning to end institutionalization across the country.

Inclusion BC also works in partnership with the BC Self Advocacy Foundation on projects that help to share the history of institutions, deal with the effects of institutions on the people who lived (and worked) in them, and make sure we never create institutions again.

From the Inside/OUT! art exhibit and video