When Mad Pride events were first initiated in 1993, the intent was to spread the message that psychiatric survivors are a part of the community.
Now, 17 years after Mad Pride began, Ruth Ruth Stackhouse said she believes they are making headway in getting that message out.
"I would say that, yes, it is working," Stackhouse said. "It is very empowering and gratifying."
Stackhouse is a founding member of Friendly Spike Theatre Band and a major force in organizing many of the events during Mad Pride Week in Toronto. Mad Pride Week, which goes from July 12 to 18 in Toronto, is a festival of arts, education and heritage activities that recognize psychiatric survivors, psychiatric consumers, mad folks and others for the purpose of community development, rights awareness and celebration, and is held to coincide with World Mad Pride Day.
Toronto's Mad Pride Week was first held in response to local community prejudices toward people with a psychiatric history living in boarding homes in Parkdale, Stackhouse said.
The week of activities begins on Monday, July 12 at the May Robinson Auditorium, 20 West Lodge Ave. with the Mad and Proud event by Houselink from 3:30 to 8 p.m. This event features Legal Jeopardy - Know Your Rights, a presentation titled What Gives us Strength and the showing of a 75-minute documentary called These Broken Wings.
The documentary features the stories of two women who recovered from schizophrenia: Joanne Greenberg, author of the best selling novel I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, and Catherine Penney, a mental health nurse in California whose healing tale was chronicled by her therapist Daniel Norman in the book Dante's Cure: A journey out of madness.
Tuesday July 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC), 1499 Queen St. W., will host the Living Archives Project, a community initiative that aims to re-tell the history of PARC and Parkdale through film, performance and historical preservation done by and for PARC members.
Always a highlight of Mad Pride Week, Stackhouse said, is the Patient Built Wall Tour at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). This year it is being given by Geoffrey Reaume, of Psychiatric Survivor Archives Toronto, and will take place on Wednesday, July 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. beginning at the southwest corner of Queen Street West and Shaw Street.
On Thursday, July 15 from 1 to 4 p.m. a Consumer Survivor Showcase, titled Still Crazy After All These Years, will be held at the Members Lounge at Toronto City Hall (100 Queen St. W.) and on Friday, July 16 from 5 to 10 p.m., a Mad Culture Jam with music and skits is slotted for the May Robinson Auditorium.
"Of course, there is the Friendly Spike Theatre Band and their new play called Dega and the Delbasid," Stackhouse said. "That is aged and disabled (spelled) backwards and it is based on a satirical research study that I found when I was taking a course in aging and society last year."
On Saturday, July 17 from 1 to 5 p.m. is the fourth annual BedPush Parade. Participants will gather at the southwest corner of Queen Street West and Shaw Street and walk together to PARC. The event will be followed by a party at PARC.
All Mad Pride events are free and are open to the public. For details, check out the Mad Pride Toronto Facebook site or www.madpridetoronto.blogspot.com