Authors for Justice
I am a co-investigator on the Authors for Justice Project. This project seeks to support survivors of institutionalization to become authors of two print books (Wilfrid Laurier Press) to narrate their experiences and perspectives for posterity, and to contribute to our ongoing collective memory. Survivors of the Huronia, Rideau and Southwestern Regional Centers will be the authors of these books.
The term transinstitutionalization was initially developed to capture the movement of people with psychiatric diagnoses from psychiatric hospitals to prisons following deinstitutionalization. I (and others) use this term to discuss the numerous ways in which public and private institutions constrain the movement and choices of people labelled mentally ill.
I am specifically interested in the enactment of transinstitutionalization in Canada’s provinces and territories. I have recently completed a study on transinstitutionalization in Ontario and am now working on cross-provincial/territorial comparisons. This work draws together political economy and critical approaches to mental health care, to interrogate place-specific social, political and economic factors structuring Canada’s mental health care, income support, criminal justice, and housing systems, the implications for service users and the possibilities for positive social change. This work has been published in both peer-reviewed journals, such as the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, and edited collections with Canadian university presses.
Homelessness on the Rural-Urban Fringe
Small municipalities on the rural-urban fringe (RUF) are among the fastest-growing communities in Canada, with some experiencing over 70% population growth from 2011-2016 (Statistics Canada, 2017). This rapid growth has created pressures on housing markets in rural-urban communities, generating crises of housing affordability and increases in homelessness. There is, however, very little research on homelessness on the RUF. I am a co-principal investigator on an arts-informed, community-engaged knowledge mobilization project, Transforming Policy Through Digital Storytelling: A Workshop and Symposium on Homelessness on the Urban-Rural Fringe. This project, in collaboration with Dr. Laura Pin (University of Guelph) and our community partner, Services and Housing in the Province, involves the co-production of a series of digital stories and webinars with fifteen individuals experiencing homelessness on Ontario’s rural-urban fringe. These digital stories and webinars will translate the ethnographic data we collected between 2017-2019 into a highly accessible format. This project centres a diverse group of storytellers, making visible the ways in which class intersects with race, ability, gender, age, and sexuality to shape people’s experiences of homelessness outside of urban centres, thereby making a substantial contribution to arts-informed, housing, and political geography scholarship.
Intimate Constraints Experienced by People with Mental Illness Labels
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes “the right of all persons with disabilities who are of marriageable age to marry and to found a family on the basis of free and full consent of the intending spouses”. Although Canada is a signatory of the CRPD, there are many barriers to biological reproduction, parenting, romantic relationships and sexual relationships among people with disabilities. Many of these barriers arise from systems of social provisioning that presume a single, male service user. This research identifies and analyzes the constraints placed on the intimate lives of people with disabilities in Canada, paying close attention to gendered differences, and proposes avenues for social change. My work in intimate constraints has been published as peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in edited volumes including the forthcoming Madness, Power and Violence: A Critical Collection.
With the inclusion of “Hoarding Disorder” in the DSM-V (2013), numerous assessment tools, intervention strategies, and associated academic literatures have emerged Yet, the experiences of people labelled as “hoarders” are missing from these materials. My research on hoarding seeks to incorporate the expertise of people assigned “Hoarding Disorder” labels into the growing body of hoarding literature.