UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

It’s about time : the significance of the centre block demolition for former residents of the Woodlands institution Feduck, Meaghan


The social history of people with intellectual disabilities, namely their confinement in large institutions for generations, is an emerging and troubling part of our Canadian historical landscape. Deinstitutionalization efforts currently underway involve acts of reckoning and constructing new approaches to including all people in civic and community life. The public witnessing of the Woodlands Centre Block demolition on October 18th, 2011 provided a site for which to take up these efforts through collaborative research. Using theoretical frameworks of memory studies, emancipatory disability research methodology and critical studies, the study engages former residents of Woodlands to construct an understanding of the significance of the event. By extension, the process of testifying to the event allowed for expressions of citizenship, collective memory, and active participation in driving the course of my findings in this research. Findings suggests that the former residents in this study actively participated in the processing of their past, the transmission of legacy, and the stewarding of the future in relation to their experiences at Woodlands. Participants strongly connected the Centre Block with a collective memory of abuse and mistreatment at the institution - memory that is in active emergence and negotiation. The building’s demolition provided both personal and political significance to former residents. Both the demolition and the study generated a discourse that evokes our social responsibility towards preventing abuse and ensuring everyone has a voice. These findings are consistent with current efforts to deinstitutionalize disability support systems in Canada, and suggest ongoing and inclusive ways to respond to past wrongs in this area.

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