Counting… The Day of Mourning and the Disability Clothesline

Thirty Days of Autism

By Emma Van der Klift

On March 1st of every year for the last three, a small group of activists – mostly activists with disabilities – have gathered together at Woodland’s Memorial Gardens in New Westminster, BC. The Gardens are situated on the former Woodlands institution grounds, and mark the burial place for disabled people who lived and died in that institution from the late 1800s until 1996, when it finally closed.

There is a monument in the Garden that serves as a sombre reminder of how the inmates of the institution lived their lives. It’s a window frame set on top of a concrete slab at the exact height of the windows in the institution. It’s called “A Window too High”, because all the windows at Woodlands were too high for anyone to see out of. There is a reflecting pool in front of the monument, and that’s…

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