Although Community Living Kingston and District strongly advocated for, and supported the closure of institutions in favour of community services, the stories of the Reclamation Project belong to the individuals telling them. Any references to events, people and places are not those of CLKD but of the individuals with lived experience.
These are the stories of first hand accounts of what it was like to live in an institution. These are the stories of the experiences that people lived through. Some people found a place of belonging and liked living within the structured environment of an institution. Others felt like they were locked away and suffered or witnessed terrible abuses.
Many of the stories contain disturbing content but one message unites them all, and that is the definite willingness to share their story to let you know that living in the community is a much better way of life. The message from almost every participant is "we can never go back".
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." --Maya Angelou
These are the stories of first hand accounts of what it was like to have a family member live in an institution. Family members experienced a myriad of emotions ranging from satisfaction and relief to guilt and frustration. Regardless, all family members are united in their belief that living in the community is a much better way of life.
"Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form." --Jean Luc Godard
These are the stories of first hand accounts of what it was like to work in an institution. Most people who worked in institutions were kind, compassionate individuals who truly cared for the people they supported. There were, however, by the nature of the environment and the protocols of the era, practices that today seem inhumane and cruel. Institutions grouped and segregated populations of vulnerable individuals, which occasionally attracted personalities that sought power and control, often through abuse.
"Stories are a communal currency of humanity." --Tahir Shah, in Arabian Nights
These are the stories of the first hand accounts of what it was like to move people from living in institutions to living in the community. When the government of Ontario decided to close institutions, thousands of people needed accommodation and services in the community. Ministry planners, agencies, families and advocates worked quickly, tirelessly, and often in the face of difficult challenges to create supports in the community that met every need.
"The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions." --Michael Margo
These are the stories of the first hand accounts of what it was like to grow up in the community. In the face of many challenges, and a dire lack of any community supports and services, some parents chose to keep their loved ones at home. Their stories are examples of the power that one decision can have on the direction of someone's life. These are the stories that show the value of living life at the helm.
"There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place." --J.K. Rowling