Closing Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw

All / Saskatchewan

February 24, 2012

Media Release

Self-Advocacy Group Pleased the Government is Doing the Right Thing and Closing Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw

February 24, 2012

Thank you Minister Draude for doing the right thing! Free our people!

Regina—Members of People First of Saskatchewan congratulate the Government of Saskatchewan on doing the right thing and closing the last institution for people with intellectual disabilities in Saskatchewan. Our province joins many other provinces that have recognized that institutions are a thing of the past and that we know now how to support all people in the community.

“This is a great day. Across the country we’ve been working hard to get institutions like Valley View closed” says Shane Haddad, President of People First of Saskatchewan and People First of Canada. “Many of our members were abused in Valley View and other institutions and we’ve worked hard to get the message out. I can tell you that this day means everything to our members. This is about respecting human rights. We all have rights, and we all belong in the community.”

Neil Mercer, former resident of Valley View Centre, attended the announcement in Moose Jaw today and is thrilled. “The horrible stuff that happened at Valley View…I can’t talk about it. I am just glad that is finally getting shut down. The people who lived at Valley View, no one would ever go back. I want people to watch the Freedom Tour and hear our stories.”

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been ratified by Canada and accepted by the provinces. It says that people with disabilities have the right to live independently in the community and that they should be consulted in decisions that affect their lives. Some people with intellectual disabilities need support, but already people with every type of disability are being supported and living successfully in the community. People First advocates that everyone should have a home of their own and no one should have to live with roommates they don’t like.

“Our slogan is ‘nothing about us, without us’,” says Haddad. “The people who are affected need to be at the planning table. Peer support is important too. We want to be included in the closure plans, to support people living in Valley View as they move out. We also have a lot of support from across Canada and people who want to help Saskatchewan do this the right way.”

Members of People First have been labeled with intellectual disabilities, but that does not define us. The People First movement is about being seen as a person, first, not their disability. Since the 1980s, People First of Saskatchewan has been standing up for the rights of people who are labeled.

Our goals have been the right:

to work at real, paid jobs;
to get an education;
to speak for ourselves;
to make our own decisions;
to get married and have a family
to choose where we live;
and to get out of institutions.

For more information contact:
Dionne Miazdyck-Shield
People First Advisor