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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Who is willing to stand up to defend and assert the human rights of the intellectually disabled?

A tragic wrong occurred when Teresa Pocock was forced into an Ontario long-term care home in 2013 against her will. Despite Teresa’s many remarkable achievements since her release, the Ontario government has refused to admit they made a mistake in declaring her “incapable” and forcing her into a long-term care home. The violation of Teresa’s human rights is critically important because there are many, many “Teresas” all across Canada and in the United States. The National Task Force on Living in the Community stated that over 12,000 Canadian citizens (with developmental disabilities) are living in health related institutions such as senior’s facilities, nursing homes, acute care hospitals, long term care facilities and personal care homes, as opposed to ordinary homes in the community.

Thankfully, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, (BCCLA) and seven signatories are standing with Teresa.

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

In an open letter sent to the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-term Care, the BCCLA is requesting a formal apology to Teresa from the Honourable Eric Hoskins.

“We are gravely concerned that the government, through its actions, appears to condone the forced placement and mistreatment of developmentally-disabled adults.”

The BCCLA, Canadian Association for Community Living, Inclusion BC, Plan Institute, People First of Canada, Spectrum Society for Community Living, Vickie Cammack, and Al Etmanski have all joined together to send a clear message to the Ontario Government: Teresa Pocock’s forced admission to an Ontario long-term care home violated her human rights.

Please join us in calling for an official apology from the Ontario government by signing Teresa’s Change.org Petition and sharing this letter.

July 12, 2016

The Honourable Eric Hoskins, MPP
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
10th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2C4

Dear Minister Hoskins:

Re: Teresa Pocock’s forced admission to an Ontario long-term care home violated her human rights

At age 49, Teresa Pocock was forced against her will into an Ontario Long-term Care Home. The traumatic experience shattered her trust and created psychological distress. These events compelled her to leave her home province of Ontario where she was living at the time. She moved to B.C. where she is flourishing as an emerging artist and is also a BCCLA member.

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

The BC Civil Liberties Association is concerned that the Ministry has 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.

We are gravely concerned that the government, through its actions, appears to condone the forced placement and mistreatment of developmentally-disabled adults. We understand that your ministry conducted a 14-month long investigation into Ms. Pocock’s treatment. We understand that, despite uncovering evidence of institutional wrongdoing, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care produced a report that concluded that government agencies had done nothing wrong. However, Ministry documents obtained under a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FOIPPA”) request suggest that the investigation found indications that the law may have been broken in Ms. Pocock’s case, resulting in a violation of her rights.

The information that has been provided to us about Ms. Pocock’s case strongly suggests that Ms. Pocock’s rights under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated when she was forced into long-term care against her will.

Ms. Pocock’s right to decide where she lives under Article 19 of the Convention was violated when an Ontario social worker conducted her Capacity Assessment without proper consent and against Ms. Pocock’s written legal directions in her 1995 Power of Attorney. Moreover, the evidence that has been provided to us suggests that the social worker falsely indicated on the consent form that he had reviewed Ms. Pocock’s Power of Attorney when in fact he had not done so.

We are deeply troubled by the findings of the Ministry’s investigation. The documents provided to us through the FOIPPA request that were obtained from your Ministry, in our view, support Ms. Pocock’s assertions that she was wrongly deprived of her liberty.

We urge you to issue a formal apology to Ms. Pocock without further delay.

The following individuals and organizations join the BCCLA in calling on the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care to uphold the laws of Ontario and Canada to defend Ms. Pocock’s human rights and liberty.

Sincerely,

Josh Paterson
Executive Director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association

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Michael Bach

Vice-President of the Canadian Association for Community Living

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Faith Bodnar
Executive Director of Inclusion BC

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Tim Ames
Executive Director of Plan Institute

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Kory Earle
President of People First of Canada

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Ernie Baatz
Executive Director, Spectrum Society for Community Living

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Vickie Cammack

 

Al Etmanski

See the PDF copy of the BCCLA letter to Hon. Eric Hoskins:

“Teresa Pocock’s forced admission to an Ontario long-term care home violated her human rights”

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“I am alive! I am reborn in Gastown!” says author and artist Teresa Pocock.

Teresa is defying the “health care system” that wrongly labelled her “incapable” two years ago when she lived in Ontario.

In 2016, Teresa Pocock won a DTES Small Arts Grant to create her first book, Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside. The book is now available on Amazon and in Kindle and Apple iBook formats. Teresa’s book launch and solo show took place on June 29 at Gallery Gachet, in Vancouver, B.C.

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Winning the arts grant inspired Teresa to focus on creating an illustrated book. Before that, she had never created a book. Or exhibited her art. Or shown people her poetry. Now, Teresa is a professional artist, poet and published author. Her achievements are impressive for anyone, regardless of I.Q. Her artistic voice is confident and bold.

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It’s a wonderful testament to her artistic ability,” said her sister Franke James. “The artwork is fun and engaging. It expresses her discovery of the Downtown Eastside. It expresses a love of her life.” Teresa creates her illustrations using magic markers on fine art paper. The 4ft x 5ft posters are digital reproductions of her art printed on flexible plastic sheets (just like bus shelter posters). The posters can be rolled and transported anywhere in the world — so she may one day have an international exhibition!

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Teresa stands in front of her Hastings and Abbott illustration and poem from her book, “Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside“. Teresa has mapped out the neighbourhood as she sees it. Her favourite coffee shop is Prado. She shops for groceries at Nesters and Costco. She loves to visit Gallery Gachet, London Drugs, Top of Vancouver, Woodwards and the Flying Pig. From her home in Gastown, she watches the big cargo ships, like Hanjin, Hapag-Lloyd and Hyundai sailing into the Port of Vancouver. All of these elements combine to create her distinctive visual and poetic vocabulary.

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Pretty Amazing! The show drew a large and lively crowd. Supporters from Inclusion BC, Spectrum Society, PLAN Institute, the BC Humanist Association, All Bodies Dance, MP Jenny Kwan’s office, the City of Vancouver and Community Living BC all came out to see Teresa’s art.

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Discovering the Downtown Eastside:
Teresa draws inspiration from her surroundings. She can see the Vancouver Sun building and the Harbour Centre from her home in Gastown. Her poems originate from her self-talk. Teresa reads her poems aloud, and continues working on them until she’s happy with them.

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Art builds community:
Teresa has been participating in the weekly Expressive Arts workshop at Gallery Gachet where she has met other artists in the DTES, including Laurie (above). Having her own solo show at Gallery Gachet was a big step forward for her. She was able to show everyone her art, her poetry and her video, “I am Alive.”

Those Monsters by Teresa Pocock

Art is a healing tool. Teresa continues to feel the fallout from her experience of being forced into the nursing home. She expresses her worries in her art and “self-talk” poetry. Her poems reflect the dialogue she has with herself. Often, she takes on the role of her own parent saying, “Please be nice to my daughter.” In the poem, Those Monsters, 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 wherever she goes.)

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The Schedule is a poem that reveals how Teresa organizes her day. She plans exactly when she’s going to have breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. Her drawings often incorporate numbers, which represent the times of the day. 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 recites the poem she laughs at her own cleverness.

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Teresa’s sister, Franke James, speaks with author Ted Kuntz about Teresa’s exuberant art.

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Gallery Gachet says “Art is a means for survival.” They have provided a supportive and very accepting community — exactly what Teresa needed to blossom as an artist and poet.

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Teresa stands in front of her illustration and poem, “We Love it Here”.

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Gallery visitors watched Teresa’s video, “I am Alive.”


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A local artist wrote in Teresa’s Pretty Amazing Guest book, “I’ve never seen anything like this!” Others commented on her wonderful use of colour and shape. Teresa has indeed found her voice in the Downtown Eastside. It is a voice that talks about feeling “butterflies”, but still finds the courage to fly. Teresa has, in her own words, been “reborn in Gastown”.

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The former secretary at Teresa’s Grade School in Ontario read about the show in the Vancouver Sun and dropped in. She wrote, “Wonderful to see all this artwork by Teresa. What a girl!”

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Our local MP, Jenny Kwan, gave Teresa a congratulatory certificate which recognized her “wonderful drawing, creativity and achievement.”

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Teresa gives special thanks to the Vancouver Foundation for the DTES Small Arts Grant that made her Pretty Amazing book and show possible!

Media about the show:

VANCOUVER SUN:
Artist with Down syndrome written off as ‘incapable’ blooms in the Downtown Eastside
THE PROVINCE:
Artist with Down syndrome written off as ‘incapable’ blooms in the Downtown Eastside
GLOBAL NEWS TV:
Artist with Down syndrome, called ‘incapable’ opens solo art show
BC BOOK LOOK:
Eastside Inspiration 

About the Artist/Author

Pretty Amazing Cover KindleTeresa Pocock is an artist and poet living in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. In 2016, she won a DTES Small Arts Grant from the Vancouver Foundation which enabled her to create her first book, Pretty Amazing: How I found myself in the Downtown Eastside. Teresa exhibited 18 “Pretty Amazing” artworks as 4ft x 5ft posters in her first solo show at Gallery Gachet which launched on June 29, and wrapped up on July 2.

As a self-advocate with Down syndrome, Teresa presented her story, I Love My Human Rights, at the 2016 Canadian Down Syndrome Conference in Montreal. Teresa is a member of the BC Civil Liberties Association, Gallery Gachet, Inclusion BC, Family Support Institute of BC, and the Canadian Down Syndrome Society. She loves chicken pie, word play and spotting the big boats in the Burrard Inlet.

Where to buy Teresa Pocock’s book:
Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside is available on Amazon and in Kindle and Apple iBook formats.

Credits
Primary event photography: Zack Embree
Some additional photos by Franke James and Billiam James
Gallery Gachet: “Art is a means for survival.”

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I Don’t Belong in a Nursing Home. I have places to go. Things to do. People to meet.

Please sign Teresa Pocock’s petition

July 23, 2014

With the stroke of a pen, my disabled sister’s human right to decide where she lives was wrongly taken away.

In a heart-breaking move, Teresa who has Down syndrome, was forced against her will into an old-age nursing home, by the Toronto Central CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) and two of my siblings. Four days later, she was rescued by my 91-year old father who was “adamant” he did not want his daughter living in a nursing home. But then the nursing home called the police, in a shockingly callous and bizarre effort to force her back.

Teresa is demanding an apology from these two institutions, the CCAC and the Rekai Centre. This is a sorry mess. Her records show that the crisis list was manipulated to get Teresa to the very top, and placed in the nursing home. Her profile contained false information which made her appear to need 24/7 care. See the presentation I made with Teresa, to the Ontario Government’s Select Committee:

Teresa’s story: Crisis, Capacity and Courage
http://teresapocock.com/capacity-and-courage/

On July 22, 2014, the Ontario Government’s Select Committee published their final report. It states: “Long-term care homes are pressured to accommodate young and middle-aged people with developmental disabilities without any medical need for this type of care or any training to support this group of clients.”

By signing this petition you can help Teresa get an apology for the harm done to her. Teresa is asking the CCAC to apologize for wrongly taking away her human right to decide where she lives. Teresa is asking the Rekai Centre to apologize for calling the police in a completely unnecessary, intimidating and callous attempt to force her back into their institution.

Over three months ago we filed a 12-page complaint with the Ontario Ministry of Health. We have only heard they are “inspecting” the matter.

We need a full apology from both institutions because this is not just about one person — it’s about standing up for and protecting the human rights of all people with disabilities.

Please sign Teresa Pocock’s petition demanding an apology from the CCAC and Rekai Centre at Change.org.

Thank you.

Oh Teresa, the places you’ll go!
Teresa50
And the things you will do.
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The people you’ll meet.
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Who will cheer you and greet.
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Fifty years young and your life has just begun.
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You’re a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful one.
JulietTeresa

Oh Teresa, the places you’ll go!
Your head in the clouds. Your feet on the ground.
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Your new life at 50 is super fun all way around.
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You’ve zoomed by jet plane, you’ve flown by race-car,
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Your new passport has taken you from near to far.
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From New York to Washington DC,
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From Muddy York to the shores of the Salish Sea,
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With that sparkle in your eye and the skip in your step.
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We’ve just gotta ask…
What were they thinking when they put you in a nursing home?!
It’s no place for YOU! No. No. No.
Teresa at the Rekai Centre Nov 30 2013
For a girl like you who just wants to have fun?!!
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Fifty years young and your life has just begun. 
You’re a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful one.

Oh Teresa, the things you will do!
You’re power-walking and chicken-dancing,
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And scootering around town!
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Banking your money,
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And stretching way up to the sky!
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Oh Teresa, the people you’ll meet!
You have new friends who are green.
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And friends who are wild it’s true!
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And friends who shimmer like rainbows.

You have friends who like to spend time

Just dancing with you!

Oh Teresa, the places you’ll go!
The things you will do.
The people you’ll meet.
Fifty years young and your life has just begun.
You’re a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful one.

Congratulations Teresa!

Teresa’s Petition

It has now been more than seven months since Teresa was forced into Long-Term Care, against her wishes, and against the wishes of her father. She is still waiting for an apology from the Rekai Centre, who called the police trying to force her return. Fortunately, her Father secured her release. Teresa is also still waiting for a response from Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins and the Ontario Government Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care which is “inspecting” the matter.

Teresa needs your support. Please sign Teresa’s petition at Change.org

Please sign Teresa’s petition at Change.org

Teresa Power Walks: Forced into a Nursing Home at 49. Now She’s Free!

Watch Teresa Pocock ‘power walk’ — and ask yourself how anyone could think she belongs in a nursing home! It is crazy! Who would deny Teresa her freedom?

Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened last November. Teresa who has Down syndrome, was forced against her will into an old-age nursing home, by the CCAC and two of my siblings. Four days later, she was rescued by my 91-year old father who was “adamant” he did not want his daughter living in a nursing home.

But then the nursing home called the police, in a shockingly callous and bizarre effort to force her back.

By signing the petition you can help Teresa get an apology for the harm done to her. Teresa is asking the CCAC to apologize for wrongly taking away her human right to decide where she lives. Teresa is asking the Rekai Centre to apologize for calling the police in a completely unnecessary, intimidating and callous attempt to force her back into their institution.
We need to stand strong to protect the rights of developmentally disabled people so that what Teresa experienced does not happen to anyone else.

Please sign Teresa’s petition, because human rights should never be disabled. Thank you in advance for your support!

Hi I’m Teresa Pocock

Forced into a Nursing Home at age 49.
Now she’s free.

Much better.

Hi I’m Teresa Pocock, I’m 49.

Fighting the system
For human rights.

I’m having fun.

I’m power walking.
I’m power walking.
I’m power walking.

It’s my right.
It’s my right.
It’s my right to decide where I live.

For all the people with disabilities

Please sign my petition at
Please sign my petition at
Change.org
Change.org

Please visit me on the online at
teresapocock.com

Much better.

————
Music Credit: Dan-O at http://danosongs.com/
Song Title: Book of the Monkey

Just two days after Teresa launched her Change.org petition the Toronto Central CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) has stepped forward with an apology.

Toronto Central CCAC CEO Stacey Daub writes:

Teresa I am very sorry for what has happened to you over the last few months. I apologize for any part the Toronto Central CCAC contributed to this.

If you are willing, I would very much like to meet with you personally to understand your experience with us and to hear your ideas of what we could do to better support individuals and families in situations similar to yours. I would also be interested in hearing how we could support the broader changes that you believe need to happen. Please let me know if you would like to meet.

Stacey

Teresa has responded with this thank you (which she recorded in the video above)

Dear Stacey,

Thank you for your letter. And thanks for the beautiful apology. It was beautiful.

Please ask the Rekai Centre to apologize to us, soon.

Yes, I would like to talk with you. My sister, Franke, will contact you.

Thank you.

Teresa

Teresa’s sister, Franke James, also responded by thanking Stacey and asking four specific questions about the CCAC’s role in Teresa’s forced admission to the Rekai Centre.

Dear Stacey,

Let me thank you for your apology on behalf of the Toronto Central CCAC. We are pleased to see you step forward. This has been — and continues to be — a very difficult time for all of us.

In order to make amends for what Teresa calls “the chaos”, we would like a full acknowledgement detailing “the part” where Toronto Central CCAC has failed — where you think other parties have failed — and what can be done to hold the parties accountable and thus ensure this never happens again.

How can it be right that people get speeding tickets for driving too fast, but there is no penalty for wrongly taking Teresa’s human rights away and placing her in a nursing home? If we had not stepped forward she would still be institutionalized.

It has been a nightmare and torn our family apart — I fear forever. Your clear admission of what went wrong, and who is responsible, will help our family heal. And may help prevent this trauma from happening to others.

We have a lot of questions about what went wrong. Here are four…

1. Why did the CCAC not follow its policy to protect and uphold the human rights of its client, Teresa?

On September 6, the CCAC assessed Teresa as being “incapable” of making personal care decisions, effectively taking away her human rights to decide where she lives and who cares for her. According to CCAC forms, the finding of “Incapacity” can only be made if there is certainty. If there is any doubt, CCAC is supposed to assume the client has capacity. Why, given the conflicting evidence in Teresa’s assessment, did the CCAC assume that Teresa was incapable?

2. Why the heck did the CCAC counsel my siblings how to take away my father’s rights as the primary caregiver for Teresa?

September 3 – Records show that the CCAC was informed that my father would oppose Teresa’s placement in a long-term care home. Because he was the Senior Power of Attorney for Teresa, the CCAC employee suggested that his rights would have to be removed before Teresa could be placed in a long-term care home.

September 10 – Records show that the CCAC interviewed my father and noted that he was “adamant” he did not want Teresa put in a nursing home and would consider litigation to stop it.

September 11 – Records show that the CCAC received a revocation document from my siblings. Despite the fact that this revocation was a direct contradiction to what my father had said to Mark Weitz the day before, it was accepted by the CCAC without question. What’s more, the document was signed by the spouses of the Attorneys, an obvious conflict of interest that renders it legally invalid in Ontario. The CCAC knew the witnesses were spouses of the Attorneys, yet Mr. Weitz accepted the revocation without question.

3. Why did the CCAC ignore what Teresa wanted — and assume her assertions about her own independence were false?

On September 6, in her assessment interview, Teresa stated confidently, “I shower myself”, “I dress myself”. Why did the CCAC case worker immediately reject Teresa’s statements as untrue? (Since Teresa has lived with me for over three and a half months, she has showered herself and always dresses herself.)

Why did Mr. Weitz not do any further investigation in an effort to find out the truth? Instead, he bizarrely used Teresa’s statements of independence as evidence of her ‘insidious cognitive decline’.

On September 6, the records show that Teresa stated several times that she wanted “to stay at the condo” and she wanted “to live with my father”. Why were Teresa’s wishes ignored? Why was a long-term care home even considered, given that Teresa is young and able-bodied?

4. Why did the CCAC ignore my offer to take Teresa into my home? And continue to insist on Teresa’s placement in the Rekai Centre?

November 28: Records show that CCAC was informed by my lawyer that I (as Teresa’s sister) had offered to take Teresa into my home. Why was my offer ignored? It would have opened up a bed for a more needy person.

But the CCAC swept my offer under the rug, and continued with its plan of forced institutionalization. Indeed, when informed that Teresa had been taken out of the Rekai Centre under the care of her father and me, the CCAC recommended calling the police. Why?

For more questions and details, please see my Jan. 21st presentation to the Select Committee on Developmental Services at Queen’s Park:

Teresa’s story: Crisis, Capacity and Courage
http://teresapocock.com/capacity-and-courage/

We are still waiting to hear from the Rekai Centre. Considering that both the CCAC and the Rekai Centre are intertwined in this matter, we will continue to collect signatures and demand a full apology.

Regards,

Franke James

As Franke says, we still waiting for an apology from the Rekai Centre’s CEO, Mary Hoare.

We need your support for Teresa’s petition today asking the Rekai Centre to apologize for the harm they caused Teresa.

Please sign Teresa’s Petition on Change.org