Survivor Pride: nine years of celebrating triumph
Toronto - It was the summer of 1993 when
a small group of psychiatric survivors first explored the idea of
a celebration to honor the resiliance, diversity and talents of persons
who have encountered the ‘mental health’ system of oppression and prevailed.
Inspired by the annual celebrations of lesbian and
gay pride that take place in many major cities, the first annual Psychiatric
Survivor Pride Day took place on September 18, 1993. On this day nearly
200 people came together at a public library in Toronto’s west end for
workshops, theatre, music, a Native healing ceremony and a shared meal,
followed by a march to the grounds of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre,
where a memorial for those who have died in institutions took place.
Following the success of this first event, somewhat
smaller gatherings took place in the early fall through the next several
years. In 1998, a march was again held following a day of workshops and
other events - this time to the site of a large rooming house that had
recently been destroyed by fire, claiming the lives of two women.
Last summer, the scope of the celebrations expanded
considerably with workshops occurring over a period of several days, along
with a video screening, a historical walking tour of the grounds of the
Queen Street Mental Health Centre, a candlelight ‘Vigil of Voices’ to honour
the dead, and capped off with a march and rally on Bastille Day (July
Also for the first time, last year saw ‘Mad Pride’
celebrations take place in a number of other locations in the United States,
Britain, and even the Congo!
With the rapidly escalating repression aimed at
persons with psychiatric labels, these celebrations of resistance are assuming
an even greater importance. Draconian forced ‘treatment’ laws are being
pushed through in jurisdictions throughout the United States and Canada,
parts of Australia, and a number of European countries. ‘Family advocacy’
organizations like the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, the National Alliance
for the Mentally Ill in the States, or SANE (Schizophrenia: A National
Emergency) in the UK are collaborating with psychiatrists, media, and multinational
drug companies to promote this particularly insidious facet of the globalization
With the World Bank now involved in creating
a ‘global template’ for mental health ‘services’ and policy, this spread
of repression is likely to become an unstoppable juggernaut - unless survivors
and allies take a firm stand.
This year’s events get underway with the ‘This Belongs
To You’ theatre workshop July 6 to 8. This event will offer previews of
two works in progress from the Friendly Spike Theatre Band (The Edmond
Yu Project, and The Girls of Grandview) with an opportunity for audience
members to contribute to the development of both plays through post-performance
discussion. The Friday will officially launch this year’s Pride events,
with members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty being the honoured
guests on the Saturday. The Sunday afternoon performance is dedicated to
women survivors of psychiatry and other institutional abuses. <Survivor
Pride - continued>
Subsequent events will include a ‘rant in the park’ (a quasi-theatrical
event focusing on police misconduct), a repeat of last year’s historical
walking tour and ‘Vigil of Voices’ at QSMHC, and several days of workshops.
The July 22 March against the Globalization of Mental Health Oppression
will cap off the events by making important links between the expansion
of coercive psychiatry and the corporate globalization agenda.
Psyche Survivor Pride Events
Toronto, July 2001
July 6, 7, 8
This Belongs To You Theatre Workshop
Friendly Spike Theatre Band
Joseph Workman Theatre, 1001 Queen St. W.
July 6, 7 PM - Official Psychepride Start
July 7, 7 PM - OCAP Night
July 8, 1 PM - Women Survivors Day
* * *
July 14 4-7 PM Rant in the Park
Committee to Stop Targeted Policing
Queen St W. at Strachan Ave.
* * *
July 14 7 PM Second Annual Historical Walking Tour
- grounds of Queen Street Mental Health Center
Assemble Ossington Ave./Queen St. W.
9 PM Second annual Vigil of Voices
in front of QSMHC
* * *
July 15 7-10:30 PM Edmond Yu Kick-off Cabaret @ Parkdale
Activity & Recreation Centre, 1499 Queen St. W.
* * *
July 17 - Two Workshops by People Against Coercive Treatment
Toronto City Hall Committee Room 3
100 Queen St. W.
10 AM-1 PM Psychiatric Drugs: ‘Safe and Effective’
- or a Hazard to your Health?
2 PM - 5 PM Electroshock - A Crime Against Humanity
* * *
July 18 7-9 PM Women and Psychiatry forum
Masaryk/Cowan Community Centre 220 Cowan Ave. @ Queen St. W.
(Note: To ensure a safe environment for participants this forum is
open to women only)
* * *
July 20 11 AM-4 PM Rights Forum
Masaryk/Cowan Community Centre
220 Cowan Ave. @ Queen St. W.
* * *
OTHER MAD PRIDE EVENTS
July 22 11 AM March against the Globalization of Mental
Health Oppression - Assemble 1001 Queen St. W. (@ Ossington)
1 PM BBQ and Celebration
Stanley Park - King St. W. @ Walnut St.
(From Support Coalition International)
"Globalization of Psychiatry" To Be Challenged By Human Rights Protest
In Front Of The Vancouver, Canada Convention Center, Sunday, July 22, 2001,
Russell Tribunal on Human Rights in Psychiatry from June 29 to July
2, 2001, sponsored by IRREN-OFFENSIVE, an SCI sponsor group based in Berlin.
Free Booklet On German Mad Pride Event Now Available
Prison Reform Actions on July 14, 2001
A three-day vigil against involuntary psychiatric oppression in Albany,
New York. This event is being hosted by an SCI Sponsor Group, one of the
founding groups, Mental Patients' Liberation Alliance of Central New York
(Syracuse). The Alliance first developed the use of Bastille Day (July14)
as a united day to speak out against psychiatric human rights violations.
You are especially
invited to speak out against forced electroshock by the New YorK Office
of Mental Health.
For more information, send e-mail to <email@example.com.>
Mad Pride will be celebrated Saturday, July 14 in the Community
Village in the heart of the Oregon Country Fair near Veneta, Oregon. The
local host is Support Coalition Northwest. Contact us for complete information.
"Asylum in the 21st Century" is a conference to be held on Bastille
Day, July 14, 2001, in Manchester, UK. This is being sponsored by Psychology
Politics Resistance, a sponsor of SCI.
Association Stop Abus-Psy's is a Sponsor Group of Support Coalition
International based in Paris. For many years they have held a small
vigil on Bastille Day to commemorate and remember people who have resisted
psychiatric oppression. Of course, Bastille Day itself began in France,
so it's especially appropriate that Association Stop Abus-Psy's holds these
vigils at the Bastille itself. When the Bastille was liberated, at
the very bottom were some psychiatric inmates, and this is why our
movement has used this day to remember those still locked up unjustly in
Support Coalition International is an alliance of almost one hundred
grassroots groups in 13 countries united to win human rights in the "mental
For full information on international Mad Pride events visit SCI’s
Mad Pride website at
Updated details on Toronto events are listed at
Resources in Toronto
People Against Coercive Treatment
P: 760-2795 F: 368-5984
* * *
Queen Street Patient’s Council
Room 2059, 1001 Queen St. W.
Toronto, Ontario M6J 1H4
P: 535-8501x2018 F: 325-9749
* * *
No Force! Coalition
(c/o Queen Street Patient’s Council)
HUMAN RIGHTS ALERT
319 Dundas St. E. #408
Toronto, Ontario M5A 2A2
Fax: (416) 368-5984
(Contributions may be
edited for space)