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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 20, 2017
Canadian Excellence


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Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

Laurier explores hidden histories of provincial institutions

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Feb 29/16| For Immediate Release


Dr. Sandra Hoy, Associate Director of Research Social Innovation Research group (SIRG) 519-884-0710 ext.5280 or


Kevin Crowley, Director
Communications & Public Affairs Wilfrid Laurier University 519-884-0710 ext. 3070 or

WATERLOO – Over 10,000 children with developmental and intellectual disabilities have been committed over the last century to provincial institutions in Orillia, Ontario, with many spending their entire lives within the centres. 

Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Social Work will host an event titled, “Don’t Look Away: Institutionalizing People and Moving Towards Dignified Systems of Care” on March 9. The event will explore the institutional realities lived by many Ontarians during the 19th and 20th centuries and the efforts to move towards dignified care.

The event, hosted in partnership with Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region and Facile Waterloo Region, is part of the 2016 Social Work Week theme, “Turn Issues into Answers.” 

“The evening will explore the practise of institutionalizing of people with disabilities in Ontario by showing a brief history of the Waterloo House of Industry and Refuge and research about the Huronia Regional Centre,” said Sandra Hoy, director of research projects at Laurier’s Social Innovation Research group (SIRG). “The institutionalization of people with disabilities is not historical – it is still a practise in Canada. It is important to share the horrific reality of life at the Huronia Regional Centre to develop more dignified systems of care.”

The event will feature:

  • Stories from the Poorhouse: Sandra Hoy will recount recently discovered local stories of individuals from the Waterloo County House of Refuge as part of a Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation and Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada supported research project.
  • History of Huronia: Author and advocate Thelma Wheatley will share findings and reflections from her book, And Neither Have I Wings to Fly: Labeled and Locked Up in Canada’s Oldest Institution.
  • Advocate Panel: self-advocates and parent advocates Andre Campbell, Mary King, Lori Maloney and Roz Vincent-Haven will reflect and share their insights.

“Thelma’s book is inspiring,” said Hoy. “She presents her research into the policies, procedures and life at the Huronia Institute in a way that centers the stories of the people that lived there. Her work humanizes people that were dehumanized and challenges us to face the legacies of abuse and pain that is left behind.”

The event will be held March 9 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work in Kitchener. Dinner will be provided and childcare is available on request. 


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