The History of Institutionalization

The institutionalization of people with intellectual disabilities in B.C. began more than 100 years ago with the creation of Woodlands institution in New Westminster. It ended on October 21, 1996, when Woodlands’ last two residents moved to their new homes in the community. 

The era of abuse and neglect of people with disabilities who lived in institutions is largely unknown or misunderstood by most people in our province. Too often, it is only through the recollection of former residents, their families, and the community organizations that supported their journey to community that this story is told and kept live.  

One of Inclusion BC’s long-standing goals has been to include this part of history in B.C.’s public education curriculum. In our recent letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan, Inclusion BC has officially requested the B.C. government to embed the course Truths of Institutionalization: Past and Present, with additional B.C. content, into the curriculum of our public education system.  

With your help we can ensure the history of institutions for people with disabilities in B.C. is never forgotten and never repeated. You can make this happen today by:  

  • Writing a letter to your MLA calling on the B.C. government to add the course Truths of Institutionalization: Past and Present into B.C.’s curriculum.   
  • Meeting with your MLA to discuss why it is important that the history of people with disabilities be taught in B.C. schools.  

To write a letter you can find out who your MLA is and their contact information by visiting the Members of the Legislative Assembly website.  

If you would like help to meet with your MLA, our civic engagement campaign Diversity Includes helps connect our members and community ambassadors with MLAs across British Columbia. 

On December 3, 2021, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities the BC Self Advocacy Foundation, Community Ventures Society, Inclusion BC, and the Port Moody Heritage Society hosted a virtual launch of the interactive exhibition “Inclusion: The Journey to Community”. 

You can watch the recording of this virtual launch on our Virtual Learning Series page Here

The exhibition is located in the Port Moody Station Museum and will be on display until the summer of 2022. The museum is open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Sunday, starting December 1, 2021, and will also require vaccine cards. 

Port Moody Station Museum 
2734 Murray Street
Port Moody, B.C.
V3H 1X2, Canada

Our approach to advocacy is guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which recognizes the full citizenship and human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kerridan Dougan, Advocate

Support Our Work, Empower Everyone.

Together, we can break down barriers and create an inclusive world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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