Dear Minister of Health, How Do You Measure One Year?

by Franke James

Sign Teresa’s petition at

October 2014, Teresa Pocock stands in front of the posters she helped create with Franke and Billiam James. Location: Franke James 'Real Poop on Social Change' art show in Victoria BC, Photo by Zack EmbreeTeresa Pocock on October 9, 2014 at my art show, ‘The Real Poop on Social Change‘ in Victoria, B.C.

Dear Minister of Health, How Do You Measure One Year?

To: Ontario Government Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Dear Dr. Eric Hoskins,

I look at my sister Teresa and all the wonderful things she is doing with us now and I take a deep breath. I give thanks for where we are today. This past year has been an extraordinary and tumultuous year for Teresa — and for myself and my husband, Billiam James.

One year ago, my sister Teresa was forced into an Ontario nursing home, against her wishes, and against the wishes of my father.  I was horrified to see Teresa in an old age home — surrounded by very elderly people, many of whom were severely incapacitated. She did not belong there.

TeresaSlides_Page_LTCHTeresa Pocock on November 30, 2013 at the Rekai Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

One year ago, on November 30, 2013, my husband and I helped my father secure Teresa’s official release, and she came to live with us.

The truth is that if we had not rescued Teresa from the nursing home, she would have been living in an Ontario institution — with no right to choose otherwise — for the rest of her life.

How could this happen in Canada? That’s what we want to know. I presented Teresa’s Story: Crisis Capacity and Courage to the Ontario Government’s Select Committee on Developmental Services on January 21, 2014. Their final report acknowledged what we already knew was happening: “Long-term care homes are pressured to accommodate young and middle-aged people with developmental disabilities without any medical need for this type of care or any training to support this group of clients.”

How big a problem is this in Ontario? How many developmentally disabled people are forced into nursing homes? CBC Radio did some digging and discovered that 5,338 developmentally disabled people under 65 were put in Ontario long term care homes between 2008-2012. Listen to The Current’s documentary: 21-year old Ontarian lives in a nursing home.

But, here we are — one full year since Teresa’s discharge — and we still don’t have any accountability.

It’s not for lack of asking… on April 16, 2014, with the help of a human rights lawyer, we filed a 12-page complaint to the Ontario Ministry of Health. Seven months later, Teresa is still waiting for a response from the Ontario Government Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (Teresa has lots of supporters who are joining her in demanding answers. Over 25,000 people have signed Teresa’s petition at and the numbers continue to grow.)

Dear Minister of Health, How Do You Measure One Year?

For Teresa, it’s all about freedom. A freedom she almost didn’t have…

Free to fly high!

Teresa on the Ferry March 2014In March 2014 we moved from Ontario to British Columbia to create a brighter future. It has been a very full year indeed — one of exploration and discovery.

Free to explore new places!

TeresaACticket_0512_980 Teresa got her first passport in 2014!

Free to dance!

Dancing_Washington_0671_980 Teresa dancing in front of the White House in Washington, DC in February 2014.

Free to cheer and shout!

Teresa_NYC_parade_980 Teresa watches a street parade in New York City, in the Spring 2014.

Free to be wild!

TeresaWildernessCommittee_980Teresa volunteers with the Wilderness Committee by cleaning up the shoreline and handing out posters.

Free to swim in the Salish Sea

TeresaElizabethMay_980Teresa gave Elizabeth May, MP a copy of the Wilderness Committee’s paper “Save the Salish Sea”.

Free to breathe fresh air!

YogaTeresa_6230_980Teresa does yoga to build strength and flexibility.

Free to power walk!

TeresaPowerwalks_4373_980Teresa power walks uphill and down dale.

Free to sing out loud!

TeresaDancingSalishTeresa sings Girls Just Wanna have Fun!

Free to celebrate Canada Day!

July1_TeresaFranke_0406_980Teresa celebrated Canada Day on the seashore in Victoria, B.C.

Free to stand up for peace!

TeresaV_Victoria_2589_980Teresa flashes her “V” for victory and peace. It is a victory that she is no longer in a nursing home!

Free to make new friends!

LifetimeNetworksTeresa_195346_980Teresa is very sociable and loves making new friends.

Free to go anywhere!

Teresa says 'I don't belong in a nursing home'

And Free to be Loved

TeresaAndFranke_ZackEmbree_980pxTeresa Pocock with me on October 9, 2014 at my art show, ‘The Real Poop on Social Change‘ in Victoria, B.C.

Dear Minister of Health, Teresa would love to hear from you!


Human Rights Should Be For Everybody. Forced into LongTerm Care at 49, my sister with Down syndrome wants apology.

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