Literature, performing arts and culture

There is so much to be said and written about in this section! If you’ve never had the pleasure of sitting in an audience viewing an evening of Disability Culture, you may not have experienced the “aha! moment” that can profoundly shift your view of the world and the people in it. When Ryerson sought funding for its “Art with Attitude” annual events back in the early 2000’s, the major potential funder was quite sceptical about funding a “celebration” of disability arts and culture. They were willing to support a “charity” event for the underprivileged, but they couldn’t quite see how the word “celebration” would apply. Until they did. Until they attended a performance and experienced that “Aha moment” — then they were all in!

Take some time to click on the links below and learn more about the contributions of disabled authors, artists and performers.


The Second Glance
A Soul Biography by Nic Askew (2023)

Featuring performer, David Roche.

You can watch the video at:


Act of God: The Pursuit of Independence — and a Hundred Dollar Bill

A young man is determined to manifest an empowered self despite a hundred and one obstacles.


January 18, 2023 (CBC Nova Scotia). Meet one of the signers who translated the Mi’kmaq Honour Song into sign language

Two women stand in a forest and turn to face the camera

Mi’kmaw signers Holly Green and Sheila Johnson


October 13, 2022 (The Coast) Nocturne 2022: QUIET PARADE marches to a more accessible future

Artists with disabilities and illnesses requiring low-stimulation events that don’t aggravate their health risks collaborated to make a ground-breaking Quiet Parade in Halifax in October, 2022.


Useless Eaters Cabaret
Sick & Twisted Theatre, 2022
Streamed live from Winnipeg


We regret to inform you … (NFB, 2018)
Eva Colmers Heidi Janz

Heidi, an accomplished academic with “a weak body and a strong mind” is informed that she does not qualify for disability benefits because she is too productive to be disabled!!

Watch it on the NFB website:


Liz Carr, Assisted Suicide, The Musical (2017)

Liz Carr is a British actor and theatre producer who wrote and starred in this amazing production. We can’t show you the whole show, but this link has some excellent clips, including the final number which features CANADA!!!

And here’s Liz Carr being interviewed about the show.


Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember (2008)

In April 2008, Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember explored the history of disabled people in Canada. A display of thirteen diverse objects revealed a rich and nuanced story that paid tribute to the resilience, creativity, and the civic and cultural contributions of Canadians with disabilities.

The first of its kind in Canada, this remarkable exhibition was produced in collaboration with students, scholars and alumni from Ryerson University (now known as Toronto Metropolitan University, TMU). The origin of Out from Under was a special topic seminar designed to uncover the hidden history of disability in Canada. Students were invited to identify an object representing a particular era or moment in Canadian disability history and explore its significance. The result is a powerful portrait of a community that is vital, dynamic and proud. Out from Under was fully accessible, including sign language interpretation and a plain-language audio tour.

The entire exhibit awaits your visit.


SHAMELESS: The Art of Disability
A 2005 NFB film by renowned film-maker, Bonnie Sherr Klein

“Art and activism are the starting point for a funny and intimate portrait of five surprising individuals with diverse disabilities. Packed with humour and raw energy, this film follows the gang of five from B.C. to Nova Scotia as they create and present their own images of their disabilities.”

Click the link and watch it for free!



Art with Attitude. Culture Cauldron.


Abilities Arts. Tangled

Kenny Fries, David Roche, Jane Field, Spirit Synott, Kazumi Tsuroka, John Feld, Victoria Maxwell, Riva Lehrer, Alex Bulmer, Erin Clark and so many more!


ThisAbility. Ann Arbor, MI, 1995

Disability culture did not start in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1995, but this important international conference made a major impression upon a couple of curious Canadians who, having seen and experienced the phenomenon, decided on the long drive back home to “make something like this happen in Canada”.

This Ability featured many artists, some of whom went on to make names for themselves in the wider art world and in academia.

One stand-out memory was the performance of Irish artist/photographer, Mary Duffy, as she confronted the audience wearing nothing but the skin suit she was born in, challenging us to really look, really see, her armless body. She has gone on to be a renowned painter of landscapes and abstract subjects.

Other featured artists were Carrie Sandahl, Kenny Fries, Eli Clare, Cheryl Marie Wade and many others.


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