DisAbility Educational Package

A lot has changed for kids with disabilities in Canada. For centuries, schools ignored them or even shoved them away into institutions that were often terrible.

Everybody needs a hand now and then, and thanks to some clever Canadian inventors, there are great ideas ranging from apps to ramps to help out.

There are also lots of important organizations to support people with different kinds of disabilities. Many of these groups were started by veterans of the two World Wars who came home injured.

Discover a unique perspective on the history of Canada, whether it’s sign languages you won’t find anywhere else to museums and historic sites that honour people with disability — all in the September 2022 Kayak!


Our Thanks

We are grateful to the Department of Canadian Heritage for their support of this educational initiative.


Teaching about Disability in Your Classroom

These activities and resources guide teachers on incorporating disability studies in their classrooms.

You Are Unique

In this reflection, Ben Bourne Flosman encourages kids to recognize their own unique experiences and to stand up for what is right.

Fair Play in Your Community

In this activity, students will assess if their playground is accessible and will make recommendations for how to make it more inclusive for all kids.

Related Content

Orillia Asylum

From its opening in 1876 to its closure in 2009, an Orillia, Ontario, institution for people with cognitive challenges has had a long and difficult history. In 2013, former residents of the institution have reached a compensation settlement with the Ontario government.

Wee Robert's Song

This song by The Kilts is dedicated to young Robert Sidey, a boy with Down’s syndrome who was institutionalized at the Huronia Institution in 1956 at the age of three. He died there of untreated pneumonia in 1961.

999 Queen Street West: The Toronto Asylum Scandal

Medical director Joseph Workman believed that 50 per cent of his alleged “lunacy” cases were curable at home. But with this half-built facility so close at hand, local officials found it a convenient place to drop off their criminals, misfits and troublemakers.

The Doctor and the Madmen

In the years that James Douglas was director of the Beauport Asylum, the treatment of the mentally ill was a model for its time: starting with the notion that they were people too.

Perfect People, Perfect Country

Canada had no place for the feeble-minded — at least according to the gospel of eugenics.

The Best Year of His Life

Nova Scotia’s Harold Russell, the only person to win two Oscars for the same role, catapulted from obscurity to fame by turning a war injury into an inspiration.


The Invention of Miracles

Book Review: The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness is a compelling account of society’s assumptions about disability and the assertion of deaf rights.

Psychiatry and the Legacies of Eugenics

Book Review: Psychiatry and the Legacies of Eugenics is a bold anthology that offers a historical overview of the Western Canadian uptake of the eugenics movement.

The Blind Mechanic

Book Review: Although the boy’s subsequent blindness created many challenges and setbacks, he did not let this stop him from achieving his goals.

Inside The Mental

Book Review: Author and journalist Kay Parley spent years in a mental institution, first as a patient and then as a psychiatric nurse. Her book covers her institutionalization at Weyburn Mental Hospital in Saskatchewan — “The Mental” — after a 1948 breakdown as well as her work there from the mid-1950s and through the 1960s.