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Researching Researchers: Sheenagh interviews Meaghan Feduck

June 24, 2013
Fred Ford, Richard McDonald and Meaghan Feduck

Fred Ford, Richard McDonald and Meaghan Feduck

Sheenagh Morrison: Meaghan, why did you decide to research the significance of the demolition of the Woodlands Centre Block on former residents of Woodlands?
Meaghan: I was so lucky to be part of organizing the demolition ceremony with People First. After the event was over, I knew something big had just happened. I wanted to find out why it felt so big, and give former residents a chance to use their voice in this way.

Sheenagh Morrison: How did you choose your self advocate research partners?
It was important not to “hand pick” the people to do research with. The university has rules about fairness. They needed to make sure that I wasn’t deciding what people would say based on who was saying it. People First helped me out by sending letters to all of the former residents who signed the guest book at the demolition. People who got letters and were interested in doing the research with me, contacted me to learn more. And we went from there.

Sheenagh Morrison: The self advocate researchers all wanted the Woodlands Centre Block demolished, but they also wanted some kind of a memorial. Can you tell me why they didn’t want to use the Centre Block itself as the memorial?
They said that the building itself was a reminder of the horrible things that went on behind its walls. They wanted the memories to teach people about preventing abuse, not about forcing people to remember the abuse. The word “commemoration” means honouring and preserving the memory of people. I suppose the former residents did not see this building as something that could honour or preserve the memory of the lives of people who lived and died in Woodlands.

Sheenagh Morrison: You are planning to translate your research paper into plain language. How will you pick the people to help translate your paper and what process will you use to do this?
The BC People First Society formed a research committee at the beginning of my project. They wanted to make sure that the research gets returned to self advocates. They want self advocates to OWN the research. So, I’m working with this group to do the plain language translation.

Sheenagh Morrison:Is there anything else you would like to tell me about your Woodlands Centre Block demolition research?
Yes. For me it was really hard to learn about what happened at Woodlands because the memories are so painful. Even though it was hard, I think it is important for everyone to learn about institutions. We need to know the history so that we can help to right the wrongs, and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.

Sheenagh Morrison: Can you tell me a story about someone with a disability who has been particularly important to you?
Richard McDonald has spent a lot of time teaching me the lessons about institutions. He has been so generous with his time and is a very gentle teacher. One morning during the planning of the Centre Block Demolition, Richard called me at 7:30 in the morning. He had been up since 3:00am with the thought that we had to organize a wheelchair-accessible porta-pottie at the ceremony, just in case someone needed a washroom. He never gave that up, and sure enough that day was the first time I ever saw an accessible outhouse! Richard has dedicated so much of his life to helping others, without wanting anything in return.

Richard has gone on to write and publish the story of his life. I would suggest that everyone should read his book to understand this wonderful man.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jerry Laidlaw permalink
    July 18, 2013 11:46 am

    you are awwsome to Meagghan

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