Learning Our History

By: Julie Garbutt

I was born a twin and I have Cerebral Palsy.

My circle of support suggested the advocate program with Inclusion BC would be a good opportunity for me. I didn’t quite believe them and I was hesitant to even go because I was really nervous.

There were a lot of new people, and I didn’t know them at all.  One person knew my twin, but not me. There are some people who mistake me for her and her for me. I’m glad I did go, because I learned a lot of things. Some things I learned about were mental institutions and the history of people with disabilities.


Watching the history of mental institutions really bothered me. I didn’t realize how brutal it really was for people with disabilities, with the situations they were put into and the abuse they had to endure. They still haven’t come the full way, but some progress with making changes for people with disabilities has been made. It was really heartbreaking to watch. It made me more appreciative of how far we’ve come.


Here in Canada, an asylum opened in New Brunswick in 1835 and in Toronto in 1841. I can imagine from what I watched they weren’t very good places to live in. It taught me a lot on my outlook on life, other people and how to change things.

Learning about the history encouraged me. I have to keep fighting for myself and others. I hope we can come the full way to change the lives of people with disabilities. We still need to work on a lot of things such as peoples’ rights, accessibility, more respect for people, more understanding, sex education and many others. A lot of people with disabilities don’t have access to information because they are denied. It’s not that they don’t want to.

I now have a better support system that includes people who are a little more understanding about my situation that I didn’t have when I was younger. It makes me feel better. That is really helpful in my daily life and I wouldn’t have had it if I was born about fifty or a hundred years ago.

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