Invitation to viewing of the Freedom Tour Nova Scotia @ Acadia University

PFNS RRADC Film Invitation

Premier viewing – OXFORD THEATRE, Oxford ST. Halifax
September 27th at 12:00 noon    

ALL WELCOME -Donations greatly accepted!

Interview with Cindy Carruthers and Dave Kent on the Rick Howe Show on September 26th, 2014

(Interview is from 30:10-35:50)

Freedom Tour  Bike Tour makes stop in county

(Inverness Oran, August 20th, 2014)

Freedom Tour Nova Scotia Bike Tour Oran Article

Windsor residents participate in Freedom Tour movement

(The Hants  Journal, August 16th, 2014)
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Leta Jarvis spent most of her teen years under constant surveillance.The 63-year-old vividly remembers feeling trapped in a place where she was misunderstood, mistreated and miserable during her days as a resident of a youth training centre in Truro from ages 11 to 18.

“They watched every move you make,” said Jarvis, who recalls seeking permission to go outside for a walk.Name-calling and physical abuse was commonplace in the institution said Jarvis, who was labeled a slow learner. She never felt she belonged.“I didn’t think I had anybody that loved me.”

She wanted to be out in the community. She wanted to meet friends her own age, and find her way in the world.“I just wanted everybody to give me a chance,” she said.Now she’s fighting for others to have that chance.

Jarvis, a Windsor resident who has spent most of her adult life living in the community with the help of support programs, is a strong advocate for people labeled with intellectual disabilities as a member of the Windsor People First Society.

She recently shared her personal story in a film that takes an in-depth look at the institutionalization of people with intellectual disabilities in Nova Scotia.“I’m against it really because I’ve been there; I know what’s going on,” said Jarvis.

The film, dubbed The Freedom Tour, was created by People First Nova Scotia and Flow Productions with help from People First of Canada and the Nova Scotia Association for Community Living. It aims to raise awareness of the civil rights of people with intellectual disabilities.

The Freedom Tour touches on the fact that although Youth Training Centres were closed in 1996, there is still a need for additional housing, employment and social services options for people with intellectual disabilities.

Institutions, Jarvis stressed, are not the answer. She’d rather see people requiring additional support living in a group home setting.“I think they need people like us to go into institutions and talk to them and tell them our stories,” she said.

A province-wide bike tour promoting the Freedom Tour film that features a testimony from Jarvis recently reached Windsor. Money raised through sales of the film will be used to launch a civil rights education program.The local People First group, including the film’s narrator Calvin Wood, hosted a film screening celebration at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre this month.

Wood, a Windsor resident with experience serving as an executive for the local, provincial and federal People First branches, agrees that individuals should not be spending the rest of their days in institutions, but he doesn’t want to see people lose their support systems entirely.

“Closing them down is one thing but they have to make sure they’re adding the right support too,” he said, noting that not everyone has family members to turn to for help.

“I think it would be really scary if I didn’t have any support.”

Bottom line, Wood said a solid plan must be in place to ensure there is a smooth transition.“I’d like to see them all closed down but in the right way.”

Film Supports People with Disabilities

(Chronicle Herald, August 13th, 2014)

Group cycles across N.S. to promote rights of those with mental challenges

<br /><br /> From right, Brad Rivers, Chris Bernard and Alex Nemet, cycle into Whycocomagh on Wednesday as part of their Nova Scotia Freedom Tour. (STEVE WADDEN)<br /><br />

From right, Brad Rivers, Chris Bernard and Alex Nemet, cycle into Whycocomagh on Wednesday as part of their Nova Scotia Freedom Tour. (STEVE WADDEN)
WHYCOCOMAGH — An independent filmmaker and two friends are cycling across the province to promote a new documentary in support of people with intellectual disabilities. “Its primary message is that individuals with intellectual disabilities have the same rights as you and I,” said Cindy Carruthers, who is with the Truro organization People First Nova Scotia. “It needs to be recognized that they have the right to live in their own communities, with supports. Institutions are not where individuals with intellectual disabilities should be housed.”The film, Nova Scotia Freedom Tour by Brad Rivers of Dartmouth, was commissioned by People First and is being shown in communities from Yarmouth to Sydney as Rivers and his friends, Alex Nemet and Chris Bernard, cycle across the province.
At a Whycocomagh showing Wednesday, Jeannie Whidden, Truro chapter president, said her foster brother was in a youth training centre as a child in the 1970s. Whenever she visited, officials there would offer to look after her, too. Whidden is thankful she spoke up and said no, and her parents supported her. “I’m glad this movie is being shown today, because it shows what people live like in these institutions,” she said. “You don’t have the right to speak up for yourself. Nobody should be living in institutions.” Whidden said her brother had other disabilities and was housed in various institutions but occasionally came home for visits. “He’d see the bunnies we had and say ‘I wish I was free like that.’”
The Whycocomagh showing was sponsored by L’Arche Cape Breton in nearby Orangedale, where people with intellectual disabilities are called core members and workers are called assistants. L’Arche helped organize the local event and is helping support the documentary by putting up Rivers and his friends for the night before they continue on to Sydney for a final showing Friday. “They’ll stay at our house of welcome and spend some time with members of our community,” said L’Arche co-ordinator Haley Zavo. L’Arche Cape Breton has six houses for its 25 core members. “It’s where we create home together, sort of like a family does. “We do have a number of our core members who lived in institutions, so it has relevance for us.”

Rivers said he made the film out of curiosity and was surprised to discover that the rest of the country has moved away from institutionalizing people with intellectual disabilities “Nova Scotia is the only one that does. All the other provinces closed down their institutions for people with mental disabilities. “These people aren’t crazy, they’re just slow. They get drugged up or tired and sometimes get criminal charges when they lash out.” Rivers said he made the film to try to get the province “into the 21st century.” Others said the film describes the “horrors” of institutional living. Rivers said that’s only part of the story. “There is that, but there’s also success stories.”

He interviewed a couple from Yarmouth who met and fell in love in an institution and were told they could never marry. The couple moved out 30 years ago, got married and are now living together. Rivers said several Nova Scotians were instrumental in drafting the United Nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and the province has a detailed 10-year plan for implementation of the convention. He hopes the film will help move the process along. “It’s just a matter of putting the effort into doing it.”

New documentary shows horrors of life in institutions in Nova Scotia


 (Halifax Media Co-op, August 4th, 2014)

New documentary shows horrors of life in institutions in Nova Scotia
Donnie MacLean, president of the Annapolis chapter of People First, believes ongoing pressure on Community Services is the only way improvements will happen.  Photo Robert Devet
Donnie MacLean, president of the Annapolis chapter of People First, believes ongoing pressure on Community Services is the only way improvements will happen. Photo Robert Devet
K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) – There is a long history in Nova Scotia of locking people up because they appear different. For some inmates, institutions mean sexual and / or physical abuse by staff or other inmates. For most, institutions are places that take away freedom and dignity, and make you feel less than human. “Like hell,” Dawn Kerr replied when asked what institutionalized living was like. “A friend of mine committed suicide just three years ago. He couldn’t stand it anymore. They found him in his room hanging.” “Eleven years old and you come to a place like this, you don’t know anybody, and you feel like you don’t belong here. I felt homesick for a whole year,” said Alan Harris, talking about the four or five years he spent at the Bible Hill Youth Training Centre before it was closed down in 1996.
Kerr and Harris are just two of the people featured in The Freedom Tour Nova Scotia, a powerful documentary produced by the Nova Scotia Association for Community Living (NSACL), and People First Nova Scotia, a self-advocacy group for people labeled with an intellectual disability. The documentary, well over an hour long, provides vivid testimony of the damage done by institutions. People talk about their feelings of despair while institutionalized. Others talk about the many blessings of a life in the community. Other scenes show angry parents listing the many empty promises made over the years by politicans and Community Services bureaucrats. Even today people continue to live in large institutions against their will. Waiting lists for the relatively few community-based options that are out there are so long that many don’t even bother to apply. “We need to get the word out that closing institutions is the main way to go,” David Kent, vice president of People First Nova Scotia told the Halifax Media Co-op in Bridgetown, where the documentary was just shown to some 30 people. “I live in the community, and I wouldn’t want anybody to go into an institution. Our motto isNothing about us without us,” Kent said. “Labels should be put on jars, not people.”
Film maker Brad Rivers is biking from Yarmouth to Sydney to show his documentary in communities along the way. A screening in Halifax is also in the works for later this summer. Along the way he talks to lots of people and raises awareness of the plight of institutionalized people in Nova Scotia. “It is just a horrible way to live, being locked away like that,” Rivers told the Halifax Media Co-op. Rivers, who knew very little about the topic when he started the film, said that he worked closely with People First members while the documentary took shape.
“That cooperation was a great thing,”Rivers said. “They would always guide me through to the next thing. I really learned a lot about their community and how to approach the story.” The documentary often is an eye opener, especially for parents of people with disabilities”, Rivers found. “Parents often feel very isolated,” Rivers said.”Finding that this is a province-wide issue and people everywhere have struggles with Community Services really unifies people.” Donnie MacLean, president of the People First Annapolis chapter, believes that political pressure is the only way that things will change for the better. “We have to stand up for our disability,” he said. “And People First gives you the confidence to do that. If you walk away you are not going to help the situation.”

Freedom Tour Coverage

(CBC News-August 1st, 2014) ***The piece is from 10:24-11:15 ***

Freedom Tour challenging institutional care in Nova Scotia

People with intellectual disabilities focus of documentary that inspired bike tour

(CBC News, August 1st, 2014)

A filmmaker is riding his bike 800 kilometres across Nova Scotia to raise awareness of institutionalized people with intellectual disabilities in the province. Brad Rivers left Yarmouth Friday to start his trip. He’s showing the documentary Freedom Tour Nova Scotia in towns and villages as he goes. Rivers says while other provinces have closed their large-scale institutions in favour of community living, many people still live in institutions here. “Nova Scotia is about 20 years behind in its services for people with disabilities,” he says. He hopes Freedom Tour Nova Scotia will spread his message of integration by bringing together people with intellectual disabilities and those from the wider community. The film was made by and with people with intellectual disabilities through the People First organization.

Barred from marriage

One story in the movie features Bonnie and Harold MacDonald. The MacDonalds are married today and have been together for three decades.But the institution they were kept in as young people barred them from marrying because of their intellectual disabilities. “When you’re in the institution, you could not get out of the institution to do what you want to do. You had to do things their way. Not our way. That made it tough for me,” she said. The powerlessness had her fearing for Harold’s health.“They were giving him a lot of medications. If it hadn’t been for me getting him the medications half off him, he wouldn’t be here with me today. They had him so doped up; it was not good,” she said. The MacDonalds live independently now. They advocate for people like themselves in the group People First. Rivers is riding along the Annapolis Valley to Cape Breton.

Bonnie and Harold MacDonald tell their story in the film.

Bonnie and Harold MacDonald tell their story in the film. (CBC)

Freedom Tour Invitation Posters

Bike Tour invitation-Yarmouth Bike Tour invitation-Bridgetown Bike Tour invitation-KingsCounty Bike Tour invitation-Windsor Bike Tour invitation-Truro Bike Tour invitation-Whycocomagh Bike tour invitation-Sydney

Freedom Tour Nova Scotia Event Schedule

Freedom Tour CBC Radio Interview May 27th, 2014

The “FREEDOM TOUR FILM” was launched at our 25th Anniversary AGM at Old Orchard Inn from May 18th. There are plans i n the works to present the film throughout the province in the fall. A special preview is being planned for HRM in early June for families, the disability community and the Media. Stay tuned! Here’s the trailer:

Many thanks to self advocates and their families, across Nova Scotia for sharing their stories for this project. Thanks are also extended to People First Nova Scotia Board, People First Canada and Nova Scotia Association for Community Living for funding this exciting project! The committee wishes to thank the Department of Community Services for sharing their perspective, as part of this project. The committee members are as follows :

  • Dave Kent – Committee Co-Chair & Vice President of People First Nova Scotia
  • Donna Murphy – Committee Co-Chair & Secretary of People First Nova Scotia
  • Alan Harris – President of People First Nova Scotia
  • Calvin Wood – Past President of People First Nova Scotia
  • Cindy Carruthers – Staff – People First Nova Scotia
  • Jocelyn Tranquilla – Resource person – Nova Scotia Association for Community Living
  • Brad Rivers – Film maker

The committee will share more information as it becomes available.