The history of the intellectual and developmental disability sector (from here on known as “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.
Within these larger movements are people who shaped the narrative, fought for their beliefs, and worked to see change. Some of these people are advocates who lived with disability, some were families and friends, some were paid workers and academics, and some were administrators and government officials. Together their stories not only form a picture of the complexities involved in these social movements, but also display the tensions and different lenses of the people and systems involved.
Today, as persons who live with disabilities, and those who support them, continue to push forward, we are at risk of losing the history that led us here. We know key people are dying and retiring and generally leaving the sector, and we are losing these voices at an important time when the new generations are wondering how to shape the future. It is imperative that we capture this history, and capture it in such a way that each individual voice tells a stand-alone message, and together these voices shape a larger narrative about how we got here and where the disability sector is headed.