The history of the intellectual and developmental disability sector is rich with stories of tragedy and success. Over the last 50 years, Alberta and specifically, Edmonton, has been host to several significant landmark decisions, cultural changes, legal challenges and human rights contests around the rights of persons with disabilities in our society. This history continues to shape both the cultural and institutional frameworks that impact persons who live with disabilities daily.

Our vision is to provide a central hub to capture this history in such a way that each individual voice tells a stand-alone message. Together these voices shape a larger narrative about how we got here and where the disability sector is headed.

  • 1800’s

    The institutional period. It is generally agreed upon that it was in the late 1800s, when industrialization in Canada was..Read More

  • 1900’s-1960’s

    The medical field developed substantial improvements in technology to help people with disabilities.    

  • 1906

    Since the original Canadian immigration legislation

  • 1907

    The act referred to people with disabilities as “insane and dangerous to the community”

  • 1911

    The Alberta Hospital for the Insane opened in Ponoka

  • 1916

    The Government of Alberta enacts the Lunatics’ Estates Act.

  • 1916

    A conference of Cabinet Ministers of the four western

  • 1921

    A survey about mental health was published by

  • 1922

    An Occupational Therapy department was established in 1922

  • 1923

    The building in Red Deer that originally served as the Alberta Ladies’ College

  • 1925

    Amos Wilton, a politically active citizen and farmer, writes a letter to the Red Deer News entitled “Dealing with the..Read More

  • 1928-March 21

    The Sexual Sterilization Act is passed in Alberta on March 21.

  • 1928

    Dr. Geo H. Wade, Mayor of Hanna, Alberta, wrote an article titled “The Sterilization Bill” in the Wetaskiwin Times.

  • 1930

    Ponoka is historically significant for its role in the emergence

  • 1932

    Emily Murphy, a renowned Canadian feminist who was part of “The Famous Five”

  • 1937

    An amendment of the Sexual Sterilization Act in this year

  • 1949

    The Mentally Incapacitated Persons Act replaces the Estates of the Mentally Incompetent Act in Alberta.

  • 1950’s-1970’s

    The U.S.A-originated slogan “Hire the Handicapped” became widespread across Canada during the post-WW2 period

  • 1951

    The National Conference on the Rehabilitation of the Physically Disabled was held in Canada.

  • 1952

    The Southern Alberta Council for Retarded Children

  • 1955

    A call for deinstitutionalization in Canada was made when the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living (SACL) was created.

  • 1958

    The Canadian Association for Retarded Children (CARC) was developed

  • 1959

    An amendment to the Mental Diseases Act in 1959, resulted in an additional

  • 1960s through 1970

    During this time period the philosophy of “deinstitutionalization” – the idea that people with disabilities should live in communities

  • 1961

    The Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (VRDP) Act is developed in Canada.

  • 1964

    The Mental Health Act is passed in Alberta. In the act

  • 1966

    The Canadian Government developed a disability pension program through the CPP

  • 1967

    The Centre for the Study of Mental Retardation (called the J.P. Das Centre on Developmental and Learning Disabilities since 2009)..Read More

  • 1960’s-1970’s

    During this time period the philosophy of “deinstitutionalization” – the idea that people with disabilities should live in communities rather..Read More

  • 1970

    The “Able Disabled” report was developed.

  • 1972

    The Government of Alberta established the Services for the Handicapped program, a division of the Department of Social Services and..Read More

  • 1972

    A group of vocational service operators established the Alberta Association of Rehabilitation Centers, AARC, (called The Alberta Council of Disability..Read More

  • 1972

    The Sexual Sterilization Act was eliminated under the newly elected Progressive Conservative Government led by Peter Lougheed

  • 1973

    The organization “Voice of Albertans with Disabilities” is developed. It is “a provincial, cross disability organization of individuals with physical,..Read More

  • 1975

    On December 9, The United Nations established the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons. The declaration “calls for national..Read More

  • 1975

    Gateway Association was founded in Edmonton by passionate parents looking to open doors for their children with Gloria Shade-Weaver being..Read More

  • 1976

    The Coalition of Provincial Organizations of the Handicapped

  • 1976

    Avonmore school and St. Matthew school allow children with disabilities into their classrooms as the fight for more schooling options..Read More

  • 1978

    The non-profit Transitions is established in St. Albert, with the mission to “provide services to people with disabilities, enabling them..Read More

  • 1978

    Handicapping America, written by Frank Bowe, was published.1 It was regarded as monumental in the sphere of disability activism in..Read More

  • 1979

    The Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies (CRDS) program is established at the University of Calgary.

  • 1979 January

    Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) is established by the Government of Alberta.

  • 1979 May 31

    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) releases a report entitled “Roles and Initiatives of the Federal Government

  • 1980

    The Southern Alberta Community Living Association (SACLA) is established.

  • 1980

    Skills Society in Edmonton is established in Edmonton as a response to the call for deinstitutionalization in Alberta.

  • 1980s – 1900s

    The disability community is heavily affected by the global economic recession.

  • 1981

    The UN’s International Year of Disabled Persons (IYPD) is established.

  • 1982

    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is established.

  • 1983

    The first survey designed to gather National data on the prevalence of disability, called the Canadian Health and Disability Survey..Read More

  • 1985 April 15

    On April 15, Section 15: Equality Rights is added to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  • Mid-1980s

    Provincial and federal governments learned that awareness boosting activities and training seminars undertaken since the 1970s were not having their..Read More

  • 1986

    The Employment Equity Act is enacted.1 It “confirms that employers’ discriminatory recruitment, hiring, and promotion practices had no place in..Read More

  • 1987

    The On Campus program is established at the University of Alberta.

  • 1990’s

    Throughout the 1990s there was a shift towards community management of services for people with disabilities.

  • 1992

    Starting this year, United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated annually on December 3rd

  • 1993

    The National Vocational Rehabilitation Project (NVRP) is established in Canada.

  • 1996 January

    On January 18, The Government of Alberta announces reform of the Services to Persons with Disabilities (SPD) program.

  • 1996 February

    In 1996 Leilani Muir successfully sued the government for wrongful confinement and sterilization.

  • 1997

    The Persons with Developmental Disabilities Community Governance Act is passed.

  • 1998

    The Alberta Disabilities Forum (ADF) was formed.1 The ADF is “a coalition of nonprofit Alberta-based disability organizations”,

  • 1998-2003

    Canada-Alberta cost sharing agreements regarding programs for people with disabilities continue to progress.

  • 2000’s

    Disability begins to be considered at least partially a social phenomenon in government policy texts.

  • 2002 October

    In October, Alberta’s first film festival celebrating disability culture, called “Picture This…Film Festival”, premiers in Calgary, Alberta.

  • 2002 December

    In December the Premier’s Council proposed the “Alberta Disability Strategy” to Gene Zwozdesky, Minister of Alberta Community Development.

  • 2003

    The Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) Act is established in Alberta.

  • 2003

    The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts was founded in Edmonton.

  • 2006

    Prospect is established in Edmonton, as the product of the merge of two Calgary-based organizations; Calgary Vocational Services Society (CVS)..Read More

  • 2006

    The AACL (now called Inclusion Alberta) published Hear My Voice.

  • 2007

    The United Nations’ first Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was held on December 13, 2013.

  • 2007

    Neighborhood Bridges in Edmonton is founded by Nicola Fairbrother.

  • 2009

    Establishment of “Samantha’s Law”, an amendment to the Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) Act.

  • 2009 February

    Enactment of The Protection for Persons in Care Act.

  • 2013

    On March 11th The Alberta government announces that the Michener Centre is scheduled to shut down and have all previous..Read More

  • 2014

    Leilani Muir, survivor of forced sterilization in Alberta, publishes her autobiography “A Whisper Past: Childless after Eugenic Sterilization in Alberta”.

  • 2014 April

    In April Freida Lafferty passed away – just three months after being transitioned out of the Michener Centre.

  • 2014 September

    In September 2014, Premier Jim Prentice announces halt to the closure of Michener.

  • 2015

    The documentary “Surviving Eugenics” was released. Survivors of Alberta’s eugenics practices share their stories

  • 2015

    A Special Hell: Institutional Life in Alberta’s Eugenic Years, is published. The book is published by Claudia Malacrida, a Sociology..Read More

  • 2016

    Canada began consultation to ratify the Optional Protocol of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

  • 2016 June

    In June it was announced that an intrusive and embarrassing testing process, called the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) had been..Read More

  • 2017

    In early April, Calgary-North West NDP MLA Sandra Jansen introduced a private member’s bill calling for the province to create..Read More

  • 2017 March

    The first hearing of Bill 211 (a bill proposed to revise discretionary trust within AISH) is passed. However, the bill..Read More

  • 2017 June 7

    Two months after its initial proposal, ‘Bill 205: Advocate for Persons with Disabilities Act’ is passed

  • 2017 October

    Alberta celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) for the first time.

  • 2017 November 23

    The Edmonton Journal publishes an article called “Alberta government still not recruiting a disability advocate”.

  • 2017 December

    December 5 2017: The first hearing of Bill 211 (a bill proposed to revise discretionary trust within AISH) is passed...Read More

  • 2017 December 3

    The first National Cash Mob in support of inclusive hiring in Canada transpires in support of International Day of Persons..Read More

  • 2018 January

    On January 19, The Government of Alberta announces that a review of the Persons with Developmental Disabilities program is underway.

  • 2018 March

    The Government of Alberta sets out to hire its first Advocate for People With Disabilities, about 11 months after the..Read More

  • 2018 May

    The Government of Alberta sets out to hire its first Advocate for People With Disabilities, about 11 months after the..Read More

  • 2018 May 31

    Bill 5: An Act to Strengthen Financial Security for Persons with Disabilities passed its third hearing.

  • 2018 October

    Nine months after promising a full review, the government has named

  • 2018 June

    Bill 5: An Act to Strengthen Financial Security for Persons with Disabilities passed its third hearing.

  • 2018 June 2

    The Government of Alberta sets out to hire its first Advocate for People With Disabilities, about 11 months after the..Read More

  • 2018 June 3

    On June 3, Alberta’s first Disability Pride Parade was held in Calgary.

  • 2018 June 20

    Canadian MP and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities