‘Born to Represent’ in Film Festival on UN International Day for Persons with Disabilities

Self-advocate Teresa Pocock’s new music video, “Born to Represent”, will be showcased on December 3, 2018 at the evening Film Festival/Performance of PEBCelebrates Live: The premier event in Vancouver to recognize and celebrate the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

BORN TO REPRESENT [music video]:
Teresa Pocock is an artist, author, and self-advocate with Down syndrome who has triumphed over adversity and discrimination. In “Born to Represent”, Teresa proudly says, “I was born with what was seen to be a disability. But no, no, no. It’s just, me, me, me. Living in reality.” In 2013, a family crisis resulted in her being forced into a long-term care institution in Toronto. Fortunately, with help, Teresa stood up for her human rights and won back her freedom. Five years later, she’s happily living in Vancouver and singing, “I was born, born to represent diversity!”

In addition to debuting her short film, Teresa will be exhibiting her art and signing copies of her books, “Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me” (2018) and “Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside” (2016).

Join us at Project EveryBODY’s PEBCelebrates Live! on December 3, 2018 as we observe and celebrate the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

  • 12:30PM – 7:30PM – Art Show and Sale, Musical Performances and Adapted Recreation Demos
  • 6:30PM – 8:30PM – Film Festival & Performance Artists (Register on Eventbrite.)

PEBCelebrates Live! is proud to feature an Art Show and Sale during the day on December 3rd, while the evening program will include short films, dance, and other exciting live presentations. This event is family friendly and free to the public, and you will meet local and international artists whose creative gifts and personal stories will inspire you. Whether it is done through; music, art, performance, comedy or something else, there is something for EveryBODY at PEBCelebrates Live!

Presented by a collaboration of community and non-profit organizations who embrace diversity and inclusion, it is a celebration that showcases the talents of people of all abilities and honours the achievements of people with diverse abilities and advocates for thriving communities that are both diverse and inclusive.

Accessibility Features: The venue is fully wheelchair and walker accessible, and Vocal EYE and ASL interpreters are available on site.

Website: projecteverybody.ca

Outsider Artist

by Beverly Cramp, Galleries West Magazine
Republished with permission of the author

Gallery Gachet, which supports marginalized artists in Vancouver, helps Teresa Pocock, an artist with Down syndrome, launch her second book.

Teresa Pocock celebrates her exhibition and book launch at Gallery Gachet in Vancouver. (Photo by Billiam James)

Artist-run centre Gallery Gachet was filled recently with bright drawings and celebratory poems by Teresa Pocock, a stark contrast to the grubby and littered streets outside in Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood, where many of the city’s homeless and drug-addicted citizens live.

Pocock likes primary colours and often incorporates text so exuberant it makes visitors smile. “I like the flavour of everything,” begins one of her poems. “Chocolate cake. Coke Zero. I love cranberry sauce and cranberry juice, and chicken pie.”

The four-day show [August 2-5, 2018], Pocock’s second at a space known for its work to encourage healing and empower marginalized artists, was set up to launch her second book, Totally Amazing: Free to Be Me. It’s an inspiring account of how she has fought to let her creativity blossom.

Pocock was born with Down syndrome. Her mother supported her in numerous ways, arranging for regular exercise and enrolling her in a private school that she attended for 12 years. Pocock, who lived with her parents in Ontario, flourished in this nourishing environment.

But after her mother died in 1999, her father took care of Pocock. But eventually, in 2013, when Pocock was 49, she was declared “incapable” of making her own decisions and placed briefly in a long-term care facility that houses elderly people.

“The nurses at the home told me Teresa cried every day and did almost nothing,” says her sister, Franke James, also an artist.

Teresa’s father, a retired lawyer, was in poor health, but managed to get her out of the care facility and took her to live with James. Within a year, James and her husband had moved to Vancouver with Pocock, hoping to build a better life.

Teresa Pocock poses with her sister, Franke James. (Photo by Billiam James)

Teresa Pocock poses with her sister, Franke James. (Photo by Billiam James)

As James writes in the introduction to Totally Amazing, British Columbia is better for Teresa “because it recognizes her legal right to make her own decisions.”

In Vancouver, Pocock began a regular practice of writing and making art. In addition to calling herself an artist and author, Pocock is a self-advocate. She’s not shy to speak up for herself and in 2016, she asked the Ontario government for an apology.

It was made in a statement to Global TV by Eric Hoskins, then the province’s health minister, but not directly to Pocock. So she sent a handwritten letter to the minister, asking him to write to her personally. Later that year, she received his written apology.

Teresa Pocock stands in front of the hand-written letter she sent to the Ontario government. (Photo by Billiam James)

Teresa Pocock stands in front of the hand-written letter she sent to the Ontario government. (Photo by Billiam James)

Pocock continues to draw and write every day at the dining room table. Once, when she was asked her to clear away her art supplies to make room for dinner, she joked: “But I’ll lose my job.”

Pocock is a participating artist at the Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival, a free event that runs Aug. 10 to Aug. 12 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre. The festival, organized by the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, features art and performances by those who identify as outsiders for a host of reasons, including mental health issues and differences in physical abilities.

To see more of Pocock’s work, visit totallyamazing.ca. ■

Visitors check out Teresa Pocock’s art and writing at Gallery Gachet. (Photo by Melissa Newbery)

Visitors check out Teresa Pocock’s art and writing at Gallery Gachet. (Photo by Melissa Newbery)

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Teresa Pocock at Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival, Aug 10-12, 2018

Outsider Artist uses magic markers to highlight her human rights and need for social inclusion

Vancouver – “I am a self-advocate. And I speak up!” Artist Teresa Pocock uses her art and poetry to express her unique worldview— and to fight for her human rights. As a person with Down syndrome, Ms Pocock has faced discrimination and exclusion.

Almost five years ago, at age 49, she was stripped of her rights to self-determination. Against her wishes, Ms. Pocock’s liberty and freedom was traded for a single bed in an end-of-life nursing home. She did not want to be there. She had things to do, places to go, and people to meet.

Fortunately, with the help of her father and a sister, Ms Pocock won her freedom. She moved across the country to British Columbia to live in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with her sister, Franke James. Together they launched a campaign for her human rights. Ms Pocock’s change.org petition garnered over 26,000 signatures. BC Civil Liberties wrote a letter expressing concern that the Ministry had violated Ms. Pocock’s rights, which are protected by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Ontario law. This led to her winning an apology from the Ontario Minister of Health. Ms Pocock’s hand-written letter to the Ontario government requesting the apology, is featured in her new book, Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me.

Ms Pocock’s vibrant artwork and poetry demonstrates her self-advocacy and reveals her inner fears and joys. She delights in her newfound freedom to choose where she lives, what she does, and even what she eats, “I love the flavour of everything.”

At the Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival, Ms Pocock will be exhibiting her artworks and selling her new book, Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me. The book and artwork were produced with support from a DTES Small Arts Grant from the Vancouver Foundation.

DETAILS

Dates and Locations
Friday August 10 (11am to 9pm)
Saturday August 11 (10am to 4pm)
Sunday, August 12 (10am to 4pm)

Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre
181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2W3

Tickets
Free

BIOGRAPHIES

Teresa Pocock is an outsider artist, poet, musician and self-advocate with Down syndrome. Her recent solo exhibition at Gallery Gachet in Vancouver included 14 large artworks, poetry and video. She is the author of two books:  “Totally Amazing: Free to Be Me” (2018) and “Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside” (2016). Ms. Pocock lives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival (VOAF) offers visual and performing artists facing social exclusion and other barriers opportunities for exhibition and sales, performance and participation, connection and learning. VOAF is organized and presented by the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. The 3-day free festival takes place at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre from August 10-12, 2018, and includes individual artists as well as organizational partners, workshops for artists and the public, and hundreds of artworks on display and for sale, alongside live art and other performance forms.

Media contact: Franke James
Email: franke.james@gmail.com

Web: http://totallyamazing.ca
http://www.cacv.ca/programs/vancouver-outsider-arts-festival/
Twitter: @TeresaPocock

BUY THE BOOK ON AMAZON:


Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me

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Teresa Pocock’s “Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me” Book Launch

Totally Amazing

Buy the book on Amazon: Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me

Totally Amazing: ‘Free To Be Me’

Teresa Pocock’s unique worldview is expressed through her art. The way she sees the world, the people she meets, and her feelings about life are all told through her art, poetry and music.

Teresa’s exhibition at Gallery Gachet showcases her art, poetry and examples of her self-advocacy as a person with Down syndrome. From writing to government officials for an apology on her wrongful placement in an Ontario nursing home in 2013 – to asserting her rights to more of what she loves in life, like more mayonnaise and the freedom to be herself in Vancouver, B.C. (Teresa’s Totally Amazing book will be available for purchase and also available on Amazon.)

Book Launch & Art Show: “Totally Amazing: ‘Free To Be Me’” by Teresa Pocock

Date/Time: August 2nd from 6pm to 8pm

Location: Gallery Gachet, 9 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC

Who made this Totally Amazing event possible?

Teresa is honoured to have won her second DTES Small Arts grant to create the illustrated book, “Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me”. The DTES Small Arts Grants Program was created by The Vancouver Foundation, in partnership with the Carnegie Community Centre, to help Downtown Eastside artists advance their careers by supporting and showcasing their work.

Totally Amazing Preview:

ABOUT TERESA POCOCK

Teresa Pocock is an outsider artist, poet, musician and self-advocate with Down syndrome. Teresa’s unique worldview is expressed through her art. The way she sees the world, the people she meets, and her feelings about life are all documented through her art, poetry and music.

Teresa has created and published two illustrated books with support from the Vancouver Foundation. Her first book, “Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside” was published in 2016. “Totally Amazing: Free to Be Me”, her second book, was published in August 2018, and will be launched at her solo art exhibition at Gallery Gachet in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

In 2016, Teresa won her first DTES Small Arts Grant from the Vancouver Foundation which enabled her to produce her “Pretty Amazing” book and art show. Cheryl Chan at The Vancouver Sun wrote about Teresa, Artist with Down syndrome written off as ‘incapable’ blooms in the Downtown Eastside. Chan’s story captured the head-scratching incongruity of Teresa’s situation. How could someone who was ‘incapable’, ‘bloom’ as an artist in Vancouver? Of course, the truth is that Teresa was never incapable (and she is gifted). However what happened to Teresa is common in our “Ableist” society which discriminates against people with disabilities in the name of “care”. Teresa’s petition on Change.org “Human rights should never be disabled” was launched on March 21, 2014. In September 2016, Teresa wrote to the Ontario Minister of Health, Dr Eric Hoskins, asking for a letter of apology. “I did not want to live in a nursing home. I am capable.” In November 2016, Minister Hoskins responded, “Dear Ms. Pocock, Thank you for writing to me… I would like to apologize to you”. Teresa was delighted to receive the apology and closed her petition with over 26,000  signatures!

Teresa’s future is bright and her art career is blossoming. She hopes to show her work across Canada and the United States in the years ahead.

Teresa’s new book, “Totally Amazing: Free to Be Me” will be available for purchase at Gallery Gachet (and at Amazon).

BOOK LAUNCH & ART EVENT IN VANCOUVER, B.C. – 6pm to 8pm on Thursday, August 2nd to celebrate the launch of Teresa Pocock’s second art and poetry book:

Buy the book on Amazon: Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me

Musical Eggs: A Musical EGGS-perience

“Musical Eggs” is a musical EGGS-perience composed and performed by Teresa Pocock. Played on a “Push 2” keyboard (and two dozen eggs).

Screened at SFU Woodward’s Emerge Festival Showcase for DTES Small Arts Grant Winners. Thank you to the Vancouver Foundation for their support.

Photos from Emerge Festival:

Some Tweets:

Butterflies in My Stomach

Teresa Pocock: Butterflies in My Stomach

Please vote for Teresa’s video on Storyhive.com

Butterflies in My Stomach: The true story of a woman with Down syndrome who overcomes discrimination, and her own fears, to blossom into an artist.

“Butterflies in My Stomach” is Teresa Pocock’s StoryHive project. It’s a pitch to produce a 10 minute video which tells Teresa’s story about overcoming discrimination, disablity — and her own fears — to blossom as an artist in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

Voting starts on April 3, 2018 and ends on April 6th. You can vote every day, so please do! Every vote counts. And you will be helping Teresa win support from StoryHive so that she can tell her story.

Here is Teresa’s 60-second StoryHive pitch:

Butterflies in My Stomach: Synopsis
This is the true story of Teresa Pocock, a woman with Down syndrome who has overcome discrimination and her own fears, to blossom into an award-winning artist and author. Four years ago, at age 49, Teresa was written off as “incapable” and was forced into a old-age nursing home in Ontario. Teresa did not want to live there. Her father and a sister rescued her, and Teresa moved across the country to B.C. to start a new life. “Butterflies in My Stomach” will tell her remarkable journey: How 26,000 people on Change.org, as well as civil rights organizations, and the media, helped Teresa get an apology from the government. And how Teresa’s new community in Vancouver, helped her to have confidence and emerge as a professional artist and a self-advocate.

Teresa Pocock’s Artistic 

Ability is Celebrated During Canadian Down Syndrome Week!

Teresa Pocock’s “Artistic Ability” is featured in The Vancouver Foundation’s annual 2017 magazine, “Gifts of Inclusion”. This is perfect timing as November 1st to 7th is Canadian Down Syndrome Week — a week to celebrate the talents of people with Down syndrome and “See the Ability”. #CDNDownSyndromeWeek.

Read the Vancouver Foundation article by Roberta Staley below…


Artistic 

Ability

Terea Pocock photographed by Zack Embree at the opening of her art show at Gallery Gachet, Vancouver, BC in June 2016

Once forced to live in a senior’s

 care facility, Teresa Pocock has

 created a home, and a body of

 work, in Gastown

By Roberta Staley

VANCOUVER’S GASTOWN NEIGHBOURHOOD, abutting the Downtown Eastside, is known for its red brick 

buildings, cobblestone roadways, graffitied walls, steam

clock, Woodward’s and Dominion buildings, tech cluster

and busy restaurants and pubs. The people who navigate 

its streets are as heterogeneous as their environment:

entrepreneurs, academics, artists and activists, as well as

 those struggling with poverty and addiction.

Seated at a sturdy wooden table in a sleek, minimalist

 Gastown condo is Teresa Pocock. By way of greeting,

 she throws her arms in the air, exclaiming, “I am a self advocate!” 

– a sincere and indisputable declaration. It

 wasn’t an easy journey, but Pocock has learned to express 

herself as an artist and an activist, drawing the attention

 of thousands of people including politicians.

Pocock was inspired to become a working artist 

thanks in large part to a $1,000 Vancouver Foundation 

Downtown Eastside Small Arts Grant in 2016, which 

motivated her to create enough individual works to 

launch a solo show. “It really helped Teresa blossom into 

a professional artist,” says older sister Franke James, with 

whom she lives, along with brother-in-law Bill James, in 

the Gastown home filled with books and art.

Pocock’s inaugural exhibit premiered June 29, 2016 and

 showcased an array of richly illustrated poetry, mounted 

bus-poster size on the walls of Gastown’s Gallery Gachet. 

Opening night doubled as the book launch for Pocock’s

 self-published Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the

 Downtown Eastside, and a selection of the book’s poems and 

illustrations were part of the exhibit. The bold verse, as well as

 

the jewel-coloured art, show an individual who is confident 

about asserting her place in the world, writing in the poem I

 Am Alive: “Redeemed/Okay, I am reborn/In Gastown.”


“Now she can say she’s an artist and a poet,” says Bill.

 “It has given her a huge sense of purpose to her life.”

What makes these accomplishments so significant – 

extraordinary even – is that Pocock has Down syndrome.

As her book title alludes, her life has not followed a simple 

course. In early 2013, Pocock’s elderly father, with whom she

 lived in Toronto, had failing health and was about to move to 

a care home. Several siblings placed Pocock, the youngest of

 seven, in a long-term seniors care facility without their father’s

 approval. Franke and Bill, along with Pocock’s dad, spent 

four days wrangling with government officials, nursing home

 management and even the police to get her out. Pocock 

then went to live permanently with Franke and Bill.

Teresa Pocock is hugged by her sister Franke James; photo by Gerry Kahrmann/PNG for Vancouver Sun and The Province; licensed for use
That wasn’t the end, however. With the help of

 Franke and Bill – who are business partners in the 

communications firm The James Gang, Iconoclasts –

 Pocock made a campaign video for the website change.org

 protesting her confinement and demanding atonement

 while asserting the rights of the disabled. The petition, 

launched on World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, 

2014, called out the Ontario government for supporting 

her placement in an institution that was clearly unsuited to her age – she was then 49 – abilities and temperament. In

 the video, Pocock calls for an apology from the government 

for denying her human rights. “I was crying and scared,”

 Pocock says to the camera. “It’s my right to decide where 

to live … I did not want to be there.” She received 26,000

 online signatures of support.

In November 2016, as a result of public pressure and

 media attention, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-

Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins wrote a letter of apology to 

Pocock. Franke framed it and hung it in the front hallway.

That wasn’t the only time Pocock has attracted the

 attention of politicians. At the opening of her gallery 

show, a staff member of Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan

 presented Pocock with a certificate from Kwan, applauding

 her “wonderful drawing, creativity and achievement.” It is

 also framed and hangs in Pocock’s bedroom. Teresa Pocock holding the achievement certificate awarded to her by MP Jenny Kwan

Since the exhibit, Pocock has been drawing nearly

 every day in her artist’s sketchbooks. Her inspiration has 

become Gastown itself, edgy despite its gentrification, noisy

 and raw, a working harbour with cargo ships loading and 

unloading in Burrard Inlet. Pocock draws what is around 

her: the geometric pattern of windows on the Woodward’s

 building; her favourite coffee shop Prado; London Drugs;

 Nesters Market and, most endearing to Pocock, The Flying

 Pig bistro, with its homemade macaroni and cheese, and 

desserts. “I like chocolate cake,” says Pocock, who does 

yoga, plays Scrabble and reads in her spare time.

“Teresa’s art shows what she cares about, what she 

is feeling and thinking and what she’s afraid of and 

excited about,” says Franke. “She shows that she belongs 

in the world.”

Pocock has another project in the works; she is planning

 what Franke describes as “an unconventional, freewheeling 

cookbook” full of her favourite foods. “We thought the 

book could have information about the neighbourhood

 and where Teresa actually gets the food.” As with her 

first publication, it too will be filled with images and

 drawings. “And we’ll go to the Flying Pig,” Pocock adds.

Franke muses on her younger sister’s influence in

 Gastown. “In society, there is a tendency to take people 

who are different and segregate and hide them away. When

 Teresa is out in the world, it brings out good things in

 people. Like at restaurants, they will bend over backwards

 because Teresa is with us. We call it the Teresa Effect.”


To learn more about the Downtown Eastside Small Arts

Grants program visit 

vancouverfoundationsmallarts.ca. You can

 also help support this program with a donation. Call Kristin 

in Donor Services at 604.629.5186 for more information.




CREDITS

“ARTISTIC ABILITY” written by ROBERTA STALEY for the Vancouver Foundation.

Read The Gifts of Inclusion, Vancouver Foundation’s 2017 Annual Magazine. Also available in eReader version. Or download the Adobe Acrobat PDF

PHOTOGRAPHS

Photo by Zack Embree
Photo by Zack Embree

Photo by Gerry Kahrmann for PostMedia (licensed):
Photo by Gerry Kahrmann/PNG

Photos by Franke James:
Teresa reading and enjoying the Vancouver Foundation article October 30 2017. Photos by Franke James Photo of Teresa Pocock by Franke James Photo of Teresa Pocock by Franke James


Help open eyes and hearts to “See the Ability” of those with Down syndrome. Join in raising awareness about the abilities and unique gifts of people with Down syndrome during #CDNDownSyndromeWeek. Spread the word!

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Ontario Government apologizes to Teresa Pocock: 4 Signs of Change

By Franke James, Teresa’s sister

Vancouver, B.C., December 5, 2016
How does a Canadian with an intellectual disability fight back when their rights are violated? Four recent developments have me thinking optimistically about signs of change for Canadians with intellectual disabilities, and my sister in particular…

Dear Ms. Pocock: Thank you for writing to me and for sending me a copy of your delightful book, Pretty Amazing. I would like to apologize to you and your family for your unsatisfactory placement experience. Your sister, Ms. Franke James, also wrote to me on your behalf in February 2016. Her passion and commitment to your well-being is evident in the extensive materials she had prepared, as well as the photos she provided of you enjoying life in British Columbia. I can appreciate that your experience was challenging for you and your family. We continually strive to improve people's experience in Ontario's health care system to ensure that the right care is provided to Ontarians when and where they need it. Issues raised by your experience that your sister brought to my attention, as well as to the attention of the Select Committee on Developmental Services in January 2014, are very important. Thank you again for taking the time to write and for your wonderful gift. Yours sincerely,Dr Eric Hoskins, Minister

The first sign of change…

Raise your voice and shout out a cheer for this great news! The Ontario government has formally apologized to my sister Teresa Pocock who was “placed” against her will in a long-term care home in November 2013 at the age of 49. (The fallout of that experience compelled us to move with Teresa from Ontario to British Columbia, where we have lived since March 1, 2014.)

Ontario’s Health Minister Dr Eric Hoskins recently wrote, “Dear Ms. Pocock, Thank you for writing to me… I would like to apologize to you…”

Teresa Pocock's letter to Minister Hoskins Sept 23, 2016: Dear Minister Dr. Hoskins, It was nice that you apologized on TV for putting me into a nursing home. But it's weird that you have not sent me the apology in writing. Did you forget? Please send me a letter. I did not want to live in a nursing home. I am capable. I am an artist and a poet. My book is “Pretty Amazing” and totally amazing. Sincerely,Teresa Pocock. Minister Hoskins Letter - Dear Ms. Pocock: Thank you for writing to me and for sending me a copy of your delightful book, Pretty Amazing. I would like to apologize to you and your family for your unsatisfactory placement experience. Your sister, Ms. Franke James, also wrote to me on your behalf in February 2016. Her passion and commitment to your well-being is evident in the extensive materials she had prepared, as well as the photos she provided of you enjoying life in British Columbia. I can appreciate that your experience was challenging for you and your family. We continually strive to improve people's experience in Ontario's health care system to ensure that the right care is provided to Ontarians when and where they need it. Issues raised by your experience that your sister brought to my attention, as well as to the attention of the Select Committee on Developmental Services in January 2014, are very important. Thank you again for taking the time to write and for your wonderful gift. Yours sincerely,Dr Eric Hoskins, Minister
 

Global News shone the spotlight on Teresa: “Ontario woman forced into long-term care wants apology from provincial government”

hoskinsThe driving force for this written apology came from Global News Journalist Christina Stevens who was determined to get answers on how this travesty happened to Teresa.

Stevens did a two-part news story about Teresa: “Ontario woman forced into long-term care wants apology from provincial government.” She did some remarkable digging to find out how many other people with developmental disabilities are in long-term care. She discovered that Teresa is just the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 2,900 “Teresas” living in Ontario long-term care facilities.

Stevens pressed Minister Hoskins for an apology for Teresa. Minister Hoskins sent a statement that was aired on Global News on July 22, 2016: “I would like to apologize to Ms. Pocock and her family for her being placed in a seniors residence…”

The Minister’s apology on television on July 22 was great news. But no letter of apology was sent to Teresa. So two months later Teresa wrote to the Ontario Health Minister and told him, “I did not want to live in a nursing home. I am capable.” See her reading her letter aloud…

Getting an apology from any government is a rare feat. The apology is a victory for Teresa and all people with intellectual disabilities. It is good to see that in Teresa’s case the Ontario government has finally admitted a mistake was made. It is good that Minister Hoskins showed respect to Teresa by writing to her personally.

Most Canadians do not realize — and I did not know until it happened to my sister — that nursing homes have become the new dumping ground for the intellectually disabled. I now see this segregation as an insidious form of discrimination. The Canadian Association for Community Living writes, “Today in Canada, thousands of Canadians with intellectual disabilities remain trapped in large, segregated institutions — inappropriately and unjustifiably segregated from society. They remain, for the most part, hidden and removed from mainstream society despite a collective knowledge, based on research and practice over the past 30 years, that with proper community based supports all persons with intellectual disabilities thrive in the community. They remain in these institutions as a result of inaction by governments and communities.”

Second Sign: New Federal Law

The second sign of change is that the Canadian government is drafting legislation for a federal “accessibility law” to protect the rights of people with disabilities. It is long overdue. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Persons with Disabilities herself said, “Right now, within our current legal framework, the rights of those of us with disabilities don’t kick in… until our rights have been violated. The current system unfairly burdens Canadians to ever defend our rights.”

If the new Canadian law has teeth half as sharp as the 1990 Americans with Disability Act and their 1999 Supreme Court “Olmstead” ruling, it could make a revolutionary difference in Canada.

Third Sign: Canada in consultation to sign enforcement protocol

UN Flag by Stockbyte licensed from Getty Images. Photo of Teresa Pocock by Franke James Which brings me to my third sign of change. Canada has just announced that it is in consultations to safeguard disability rights by signing the enforcement mechanism for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). I am proud to say that my sister Teresa Pocock is the self-advocate prominently featured on the campaign poster driving that change. Teresa earned the distinction as a result of her traumatic experience being “placed” in an Ontario long-term care home against her will in November 2013. Teresa and I presented testimony about her forced placement to Ontario’s Select Committee on Developmental Disabilities in January 2014. Vice-Chair MPP Christine Elliott called Teresa’s experience “truly shocking”.

ntt-cover-enThe Ontario government is facing a big crisis regarding adults with developmental disabilities. The Ontario Ombudsman, Paul Dubé, recently completed a multi-year investigation into Ontario’s treatment and care of people with developmental disabilities. On August 24, 2016, Mr. Dubé published Nowhere to Turn,” a highly critical report on the Ontario government’s handling of the crisis, calling it a “systemic failure”.

The Ombudsman’s report detailed many heartbreaking cases, including those which amount to “a modern-day version of institutionalization.” Mr. Dubé also acknowledged that long-term care homes are providing institutional care to adults with developmental disabilities, “despite the fact that such settings can be wholly unsuitable.”
“In my opinion, the Ministry’s response to urgent situations involving adults with developmental disabilities and its administration of the process to address crisis cases has been unreasonable and wrong. I have made 60 recommendations for reform, including a requirement that the Ministry [of Community and Social Services] report back on its progress in implementing necessary changes.” The Ombudsman’s report “Nowhere To Turn” includes 6 recommendations on the inappropriate admission to long-term care homes of people with developmental disabilities. This one recommendation could have derailed the train that was determined to put my sister into the long-term care home…

21. The Ministry of Community and Social Services should actively work with local agencies to ensure that placement of young adults with developmental disabilities in long-term care homes is considered a last resort and that alternative solutions are vigorously pursued.

 
But despite sounding the alarm, the Ombudsman also struck an optimistic, upbeat note. He cited a new “culture change” and better leadership.

We appreciate Minister Hoskins’ apology to Teresa and accept it as a positive sign that the Ontario government wants to do better in its treatment of people with developmental disabilities. He has his work cut out for him. As Nowhere to Turn shows, and Global News’ Christina Stevens reported there are thousands of young and middle-aged people with developmental disabilities warehoused in Ontario long-term care homes.
 

Fourth Sign: Whistleblowers Wanted!

I could have used this… The Ontario government has just opened a whistleblower hotline to report abuse of people with developmental disabilities.

The news that Ontario’s abuse hotline has been expanded is timely. Is it a result of the pressure from the Ombudsman’s report “Nowhere to Turn” and the new Federal Accessibility law?

The Government of Ontario is expanding ReportON, a new service for reporting suspected or witnessed abuse of adults with developmental disabilities.

The 24/7 phone line and email service is the latest step taken by the Ministry of Community and Social Services to further improve the safety of adults with developmental disabilities.

Abuse is often hard to identify. Examples can include being denied basic necessities like food, shelter, clothing or medicine. Even if you are unsure, but suspect abuse or neglect of an adult with a developmental disability, you should contact ReportON. Each call will be investigated and the appropriate action will be taken. People can access ReportON by calling 1-800-575-2222 or emailing reportONdisability@ontario.ca.

If the Ontario government had listened to us it would not have taken three years, 26,000 people on Change.org, the BC Civil Liberties Association, Global News coverage, disability-rights lawyers, and scores of other efforts to finally get the Ontario Minister’s attention. But then we’d never have created the campaign to raise awareness of this human rights abuse…

Highlights from Teresa Pocock’s Campaign 2014-2016

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It has taken a determined campaign over three years to assert Teresa’s rights to choose freedom over segregation. Teresa’s Change.org petition, “Tell the Ontario Government Human Rights should Never Be Disabled” launched on March 21, 2014, World Down Syndrome Day. It has now amassed over 26,000 supporters and more than 2,400 comments.

Watch Teresa speaking up for herself in this video from Spring 2014:

Teresa Pocock’s Change.org Petition: Tell the Ontario Government, Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled.

Over 26,000 people signed Teresa’s petition, and 2,400 left comments. Here are a few…

“I’m signing because I want my daughter’s rights protected. She has Down syndrome and I too have seen people with Down syndrome in nursing homes before their time.” Lorna Aberdein, Waterloo, Canada

“I am shocked by the treatment this lady received in the name of “protection” Clearly her rights were abused and she deserves an apology for the archaic way her life was being dictated. Shame on the people involved.” Christine Bearpark, Steinbach, Canada

“I worked in a long term care home for 10 years and this young woman certainly does not belong in one. An apology would be the least the government could do for this young woman.” Mrs. Dale Pond, Markdale, Canada

Teresa is very grateful to the 26,000 Change.org supporters and the organizations who stepped forward to help her assert her rights.

On July 12, 2016, the BC Civil Liberties Association sent a letter in support of Teresa.

“We believe and support Ms. Pocock’s statements that she did not want to be put into a nursing home.”

The letter was co-signed by the Canadian Association for Community Living, Inclusion BC, Plan Institute, People First of Canada, Spectrum Society for Community Living, Vickie Cammack, and Al Etmanski.

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Teresa had a life to live. So many places to go! Things to do! People to meet!

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Photo of Teress Pocock by Zack Embree June 29 2016

Teresa Pocock: ‘Pretty Amazing’ Artist, Poet and Author

On June 29, 2016, the Vancouver Sun did a feature article on Teresa’s budding art and writing career in the Downtown Eastside. The Sun headline aptly summed up the incongruous absurdity of Ontario’s treatment of Teresa: Artist with Down syndrome written off as ‘incapable’ blooms in the Downtown Eastside .

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Book Launch: Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside
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PrettyAmazingCover_postTeresa Pocock’s book: Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside.

Amazon Reviews and Comments

Absolute Pleasure – My Coffee Table Favorite
“Teresa Pocock’s honest writing and spontaneous word play make this book a delightful read from cover to cover. Just add in her personal illustrations, and we get an opportunity to see the world from her point of view. Her sister prefaced the book with Teresa’s astounding story of how she triumphed over systemic erasure and mistreatment to take back her rights and empowerment.”

Art, Poetry, Human Rights and Emergence
“Teresa Pocock is an artist/poet living in the downtown east side of Vancouver. Her words and visual creations are unfiltered expressions of her self in the moment. The poems show up in the form of inner dialogue, a kind of call and response thing. There’s poignancy, exuberance and freshness to these works. The visual art are boldly done in the colours and forms of her environment, the locations of Teresa’s emergence as an artist. The human rights dimension of Teresa Pocock’s life is outlined by the touching, loving introduction written by her sister, Franke James. What a story! What a book! Place yourself in touch with this adventure in becoming.”

The book cheers me up
“I was very delighted when Teresa gave me a copy of her book and signed it for me.
Once I got home and found some time to look at it I was extremely surprised by the uplifting effect the book had on me. It cheers me up every time I open it and look at the paintings or read a poem. It has a special magic to it.”

“I Am Alive” by Teresa Pocock on Vimeo.

Megaphone Magazine September 2016: A Pretty Amazing Story

Spring 2016: Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled. Published in the Family Support newsletter, and the Institution Watch newsletter.

March 2016: Down Syndrome Victory! Teresa Pocock wins an Arts Grant in Vancouver

July 1, 2015: How many times can the Minister of Health turn his head, pretending he just doesn’t see?

March 2015: My sister, Teresa, Just Wants To Have Fun — Outside of an Ontario Nursing Home! #humanrights –

November 30, 2014: Dear Minister of Health, How Do You Measure One Year?

April 2014 – This Easter, Teresa Egg-spects Apology from CEO of the Rekai Centre

April 2014 – Rock On! Teresa Power Walks for her Freedom

photo of teresa Pocock by Zack Embree October 2014

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Dear Minister Hoskins, Please send me a letter

By Franke James

My sister Teresa is stepping forward as a self-advocate. She has written a letter to Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins asking him to please send her a letter!


“Dear Minister Hoskins, It was nice that you apologized on TV for putting me into a nursing home. But it’s weird that you have not sent me the apology in writing. Did you forget? Please send me a letter. I did not want to live in a nursing home. I am capable…”

For over two months, Teresa has been waiting — and waitingand WAITING — to hear from Minister Hoskins. Because two months ago, on July 22, the Minister apologized on Global News TV for Ontario’s placement of Teresa in a “seniors residence” in 2013. I think most Canadians would be shocked that Teresa — at 49-years of age — was placed in a nursing home which specialized in dementia and palliative care.

The Minister’s statement of apology on TV was good news. But confusingly, there was no follow up by him, or any Ministry staff!

Teresa herself calls it “weird” that he has not sent her the apology in writing. I agree. Most people would expect that the Minister would have contacted Teresa afterwards. Most people would expect that at the very least he would have sent a letter to Teresa. More than two months has elapsed, and there has been NO letter expressing regret. NO phone call to say sorry. Nothing. It sends a message that they don’t really care.

So Teresa wrote this letter to Minister Hoskins…

Teresa Pocock's letter to Minister Hoskins Sept 23, 2016: Dear Minister Dr. Hoskins, It was nice that you apologized on TV for putting me into a nursing home. But it's weird that you have not sent me the apology in writing. Did you forget? Please send me a letter. I did not want to live in a nursing home. I am capable. I am an artist and a poet. My book is “Pretty Amazing” and totally amazing. Sincerely,Teresa Pocock

As Teresa herself writes, she did not want to live in a nursing home. Her “placement” in 2013 was done against her wishes and was very traumatic. It changed her life. Global News Journalist, Christina Stevens did a two-part news story about Teresa’s experience: “Ontario woman forced into long-term care wants apology from provincial government.” Stevens interviewed Minister Hoskins, but he refused to answer any questions about Teresa’s file citing “privacy” reasons. Teresa and I then gave permission for the Minister to speak with Stevens for the second part of the news story.

Stevens did some remarkable digging to find out how many other people with developmental disabilities are in long-term care. She discovered that Teresa is just the tip of the iceberg. There are more than two thousand, nine hundred “Teresas” living in Ontario long-term care facilities.  Stevens pressed Minister Hoskins for an apology for Teresa. He did not appear on air, but sent a statement to Global News: “I would like to apologize to Ms. Pocock and her family for her being placed in a seniors residence.”

The Minister’s statement of apology on television was good news. But confusingly, there was no follow up by him, or any Ministry staff! Why has there not been any follow up?

Most Canadians do not realize — and I did not know until it happened to my sister — that nursing homes have become the new dumping ground for the intellectually disabled. I now see this segregation as an insidious form of discrimination. The Canadian Association for Community Living writes, “Today in Canada, thousands of Canadians with intellectual disabilities remain trapped in large, segregated institutions — inappropriately and unjustifiably segregated from society. They remain, for the most part, hidden and removed from mainstream society despite a collective knowledge, based on research and practice over the past 30 years, that with proper community based supports all persons with intellectual disabilities thrive in the community. They remain in these institutions as a result of inaction by governments and communities.”

The Ontario government is facing a big crisis regarding adults with developmental disabilities. The Ontario Ombudsman, Paul Dubé, has just completed a multi-year investigation into Ontario’s treatment and care of people with developmental disabilities. On August 24, Mr. Dubé published Nowhere to Turn,” a highly critical report on the Ontario government’s handling of the crisis, calling it a “systemic failure”. I read the 182-page report in full, as well as numerous media reports and editorials on it.
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The Ombudsman’s report detailed many heartbreaking cases, including those which amount to “a modern-day version of institutionalization.” Mr. Dubé also acknowledged that long-term care homes are providing institutional care to adults with developmental disabilities, “despite the fact that such settings can be wholly unsuitable.” 

“In my opinion, the Ministry’s response to urgent situations involving adults with developmental disabilities and its administration of the process to address crisis cases has been unreasonable and wrong. I have made 60 recommendations for reform, including a requirement that the Ministry [of Community and Social Services] report back on its progress in implementing necessary changes.”

But despite sounding the alarm, the Ombudsman also struck an optimistic, upbeat note. He cited a new “culture change” and better leadership!

What really made the difference is leadership, and attitudinal changes at the Ministry, from the top down. Officials are no longer aloof and are more willing to engage directly in resolving individual crisis cases. They are no longer on the defensive when dealing with our Office and see the value we can add in helping them maximize service to Ontarians.”

I would like to believe Mr. Dubé. I hope that the Ontario government has turned over a new leaf — and sincerely wants to do better in its treatment of people with developmental disabilities. I believe that the Ombudsman, Paul Dubé, would want — indeed expect — Minister Hoskins to show some respect and kindness to Teresa by sending her a letter.

If I had Minister Hoskins‘ ear, I would tell him that this is a golden opportunity for him to show the Ontario Ombudsman that there really has been a “culture change” in Ontario’s treatment of people with developmental disabilities. And that by sending a sincere letter of apology to my sister Teresa he will demonstrate that he is part of the change (and his apology was not just done to please the TV audience).

“…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
~Hubert H. Humphrey

Teresa has sent her letter to Minister Hoskins — along with an autographed hardcover copy of her new book, Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside. We hope the Minister replies.

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RELEVANT LINKS:
Pretty Amazing Cover KindleTeresa Pocock’s book: Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside.

Teresa Pocock’s Change.org Petition: Tell the Ontario Government, Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled.

Human Rights Letter: BC Civil Liberty Association‘s July 12, 2016 letter in support of Teresa, was co-signed by the Canadian Association for Community Living, Inclusion BC, Plan Institute, People First of Canada, Spectrum Society for Community Living, Vickie Cammack, and Al Etmanski.

Vancouver Sun: Artist with Down syndrome written off as ‘incapable’ blooms in the Downtown Eastside

"I Am Alive" by Teresa Pocock on Vimeo.

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A Pretty Amazing Story in Megaphone Magazine

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By Franke James for Megaphone Magazine
Photo of Teresa Pocock by Zack Embree

“Freedom” describes Teresa Pocock’s awakening as an artist and poet in the Downtown Eastside. When she draws, she is free. There is no filter. She doesn’t second guess herself or say her drawing isn’t “good enough”. She is confident. She lets whatever is on her mind come out, freely.

But the freedom to make her own decisions and choices—where she lives, what she does, and how she expresses herself—is new to her. Teresa has Down syndrome. It’s been very difficult for her to assert her rights and be her own person. For much of her life, she’s been wrapped in a cocoon, where other people made decisions for her. This was made evident in 2013, when Teresa was forced into a nursing home in Ontario at age 49.

Against her wishes, Teresa was placed in a long-term care home that specialized in dementia and palliative care. It was absolutely the wrong place for her. When Teresa said she didn’t want to live there, no one listened. Fortunately, Teresa’s father, a retired lawyer, was able to get her released after four days. The next day, Teresa came to live with me and my husband. Three months later, we moved from Ontario to British Columbia and eventually settled in Gastown in the Downtown Eastside.

Finding her voice
Settling in the Downtown Eastside turned out to be a great stroke of luck for Teresa and her budding career as an artist. She applied for a DTES Small Arts Grant to create an illustrated book about her new neighbourhood. The grant was approved in February, and Teresa got to work.

Over the next four months, Teresa created about 100 illustrations in large spiral-bound sketchbooks using vibrant hues of magic markers. She also wrote 10 poems for the book. My husband and I helped Teresa design and self-publish her book.

Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside is a collection of Teresa’s art and poetry. In her opening poem, I Am Alive, she shares her upbeat philosophy on life: “Be nice to everyone.” And she says she feels “redeemed. Okay, I am reborn. In Gastown.”

Her natural ability to express herself through art is important. In her art and poetry, she can freely express her worries and her joys. Her poems reflect the dialogues she has with herself. Often, she takes on the role of her own parent, saying, “Please be nice to my daughter.” And she encourages herself: “You’re not afraid of those monsters. You have the power of attorney.” Her power of attorney document helped win her release from the nursing home. To this day, Teresa carries the updated document with her.

In her poem “The Schedule,” Teresa shows how she organizes her day. She carefully plans the times for her breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. She includes these detailed times in her drawings and often scratches the numbers out as the hours pass. We hear her sense of humour and wordplay when she writes, “We are quite a pair. Eat your pears at Nesters. I love Perrier.” When she reads the poem aloud she laughs at her own cleverness.

The unexpected
Teresa is enjoying her new identity as an artist and author. This past summer, she launched her book and art show at Gallery Gachet. And then something amazing happened. For almost three years now, Teresa has been asking the Ontario government to apologize. Her Change.org petition—Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled— garnered more than 26,000 signatures. Last month, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and seven other signatories sent a letter to the Ontario government stating, “We are gravely concerned that the government, through its actions, appears to condone the forced placement and mistreatment of developmentally disabled adults.”

The letter caught the attention of Christina Stevens at Global News, who did a story on Teresa. On July 22, Minister Eric Hoskins apologized to Teresa on Global News for “placing” her in a “seniors’ residence,” saying it was not appropriate. The apology was a welcome surprise, but the Global News story exposed the fact that Teresa is just one of thousands who have been deprived of their liberty, as 2,900-plus people in that province are living in such facilities.

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Teresa’s pretty amazing journey that brought her to the Downtown Eastside is still unfolding. She has just turned 52. She is now free to make her own decisions. Free to colour outside the lines. And free to make a difference for all people with disabilities simply by being who she is: a self-advocate and artist in the Downtown Eastside.

I AM ALIVE

Hello.
Be nice to everyone.
Look, I am alive.
You have to be nice.
I am doing fine.
Thank goodness.
I have to be nice to them.
And to the others.
That’s a brilliant idea!
You’re thinking.
And I’m thinking too.
I think we need to make a list of the things we need.
Right. I’m alive. Nesters. Flying Pig. Prado.
We love it here.
Everybody loves me.
You guys are alright, I know.
You guys, I am born. I am alive.
Redeemed.
Okay, I am reborn.
In Gastown

"I Am Alive" by Teresa Pocock on Vimeo.

Related Links:

“A Pretty Amazing Story”, Megaphone Magazine, September 2016

Global News: Ontario woman forced into long-term care wants apology from provincial government

Global News: More than 2,900 Ontarians with developmental disabilities live in long-term care facilities

BC Civil Liberties letter to the Ontario Government: Teresa Pocock’s forced admission to an Ontario long-term care home violated her human rights

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