Announcing the launch of “Oral histories of activists in the disability rights movement between 1970 and 2020”

September 2020

The “Oral histories of activists in the disability rights movement between 1970 and 2020” project has launched! The project is led by Carleton University’s Disability Research Group (CUDRG) members Dr. Therese Jennissen, from the School of Social Work and Dr. Dominique Marshallfrom the Department of History. Our hopes in this project are to collect the stories of disability rights activists through interviews and to create an accessible archive which documents key players and moments in history that promoted disability rights in Canada. 

(Want to know more about how they trained in ‘oral history’ is? Check out here.)

(Cain, Sielaff, Sloan, 2020; COHDS, 2013) 
As a group committed to ease of access to research, knowledge and promoting the work of historic disability activists, our aim is to create a virtual exhibit of the results of our interviews, in 2021. Like the three existing virtual exhibits of the CUDRG, this exhibit will feature interviews with activists and images or other archival information which is relevant to understanding the disability rights movements between 1970 and 2020. This project will raise awareness about disability rights in Canada and contribute to our knowledge of social activism and social change. Though this project focuses on key persons and moments in the past, in this project we acknowledge that the work of disability rights activism and advocacy is far from finished. We support and encourage the work of future activists. 

While this project was conceptualized a few years ago by Roy Hanes, Dominique Marshall and the CUDSG, several people are currently active on this research.  Hollis Peirce is a research consultant on the project; Margaret Janse van Rensburg, Ann Seymour, and Alicia Kalmanovitch are research assistants. 

Hollis Peirce is a 32 year old individual, with congenital Muscular Dystrophy, who has recently graduated from Carleton University with an MA in History and a specialization in Digital Humanities. He wrote his thesison the history of academic accessibility in post-secondary institutes using Carleton University as a case study. He began studying history after discovering it through his passion for politics and famous political figures of the past. He has lived in Ottawa for over 20 years but he is originally from Edmonton, Alberta, which is why he is, and always will be, an Edmonton Oilers fan.

Margaret Janse van Rensburg is a first-year PhD student at Carleton University’s School of Social Work. Margaret completed her Bachelors of Arts in Archaeology and Medieval Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University. Margaret’s  research interests are in autism and disability; she is particularly motivated to use the social model of disability in her personal practice and research. 

Ann Seymour is Anishinaabe from Wikwemikong, Ontario, an Indian Residential Intergenerational Trauma Survivor.  Ann is married to a registered member of the Mohawks of Akwesasne, she and her husband have grounded 4 children, all of who are now young adults, growing their own roots.  Ann is currently doing her PhD; her research interests are applying a two-eyed seeing approach to improve mental health of Indigenous youth by integrating land based activities, ultimately to end suicide. 

Alicia Kalmanovitch is a PhD student at Carleton University’s School of Social Work. She is a registered social worker and is passionate about community development, social policy, social work education, and the history of the profession. Her current academic work focuses on the Holocaust. 


Cain, A., Sielaff, S., Sloan, S. (2020). Oral History at a Distance: Conducting Remote Interviews. 

COHDS. (2013). Webinar – Introduction to Oral History and Interviewing. 

Nepveux, D. M. (2015). Activism. In R. Adams et al. Keywords for Disability Studies. New York University Press. 


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