Freeing Teresa: A True Story about My Sister and Me


Freeing Teresa: A True Story about Me and My Sister

by Franke James (with Teresa Heartchild and Billiam James)

Franke James immediately objected when she heard her siblings’ plan to put their youngest sister, Teresa Heartchild, into a nursing home. “What about Teresa’s human rights?” But Franke was told that Teresa, who has Down syndrome, had lost her right to decide. She had been declared “not capable” by a social worker. The other siblings, now acting as Teresa’s “guardians,” insisted they had all the decision-making power, and they put Teresa into a nursing home. But Teresa didn’t want to be there. So, Franke put a team together and helped Teresa get discharged. That’s when all hell broke loose. And, the two sisters had to stand together—against their siblings, the medical system, and even the police—to defend Teresa’s right to be free.

James is an author, artist and activist whose work exposing the Canadian government censorship and defending free expression has earned awards and praise from PEN Canada and the BC Civil Liberties Association. When things started going off-track in her own family, James used her journalistic skills to document what was happening. The book is based on extensive documentation made when it was happening—videos, audio recordings, telephone calls, emails—as well as medical, police and court records.

The book is available in three formats: Kindle, Paperback and Hardcover.


Some photos from the book:

Franke with her camera
Franke James with her camera on the day of the rescue.

Teresa Cheers
Teresa Heartchild toasts, hoping for success!

Billiam James answers the door to see… The cops!


ADVANCE PRAISE for Freeing Teresa

“Gut-wrenching and awe-inspiring. This story will break your heart and then fill it up again.”
Catherine McKercher, author of Shut Away

“A gripping story about courage, love, and an unshakeable belief in human potential.”
Marty Seldman, Ph.D. author of Survival of the Savvy

“A courageous, personal account of fighting the system—and family—to free Teresa from forced care.”
Alanna Hendren, Executive Director, Developmental Disabilities Assoc.

“Full of insight, heartbreak and inspiration. This no-holds-barred  story is a must-read for anyone  who cares about disability rights.”
Karla Verschoor, Executive Director, Inclusion BC

“A must-read for anyone who cares about human dignity and equal rights. A truly amazing story.”
George Melnyk, Professor Emeritus, Communication, Media and Film, University of Calgary

“Authentic, raw and riveting. It was an emotional rollercoaster—one that will be very real for many disabled people. At its core, it’s about hope for a better life and resilience.”
Isabel Mavrides-Calderon @Powerfullyissa, Disability Advocate


Buy “Freeing Teresa” on Amazon

Freeing Teresa
by Franke James (with Teresa Heartchild and Billiam James)

Freeing Teresa:



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