Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers! 2007



SUNDAY, MAY 13, 2007

People say there is no torture in Canada. Excuse my language but that’s pure bullshit, there’s torture being paid for by the Ministry of Health.

~Canadian shock survivor, Sue Clark
From Burstow video ‟When Women End Up in Those Horrible Places″ (1994)

A Mother’s Day Demonstration
Against Electroshock

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 2007, the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) organized a public, arts-based demonstration against electroshock (“electroconvulsive therapy”, “ECT”) therapy specifically for its use on women.

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 2007, the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) organized a public, arts-based demonstration against electroshock (“electroconvulsive therapy”, “ECT”) therapy specifically for its use on women.

At 1:15 p.m., marchers gathered in front of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. Meanwhile, the rest of the protesters were setting up in front of Queen’s Park (provincial legislature). Those at the legislature waited with bated breath, knowing that our marchers would be chanting antishock slogans as they proceeded proudly toward us, with Don Weitz on the bullhorn, Mel Starkman, the head marshal. At approximately 5 minutes before 2:00, there they were. A long line of marchers, banners waving in the air, at the front, these magnificent 10-foot puppets known as Women of the World. The approaching parade was so long and so alive with drama and pageantry that it was hard to believe that this was really our own marchers. And so the began the CAPA demo ‟Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers″.

This was an enormously exciting demo~the first international Mother’s Day Protest against Electroshock in history, and all of it strongly framed in feminist terms. Bonnie Burstow began by contextualizing the day, remembering and honouring the various women shock survivors who have courageously given testimony in Toronto decade after decade but who could not be with us here on this day. She discussed what makes ECT a feminist issue, how women are electroshocked two to three times as often as men, also how it has been conclusively proven that women are more braindamaged by the ‟treatment.″ She also read the anti-shock proclamation, which voices our vow “To return, return and return again until this abomination is no more.” Don Weitz discussed the international resistance to ECT. Then the centre of the demo—the testimonies—began.

All of the testimonies were moving, gripping, and important, and everyone could feel it. Who among us will ever forget the courageous and stirring testimony of shock survivor Paivi Laine and then of her daughter Liisa! Paivi spoke not only of memory loss but of once being able to experience life with passion and of what it means to be robbed of that passion. Like everyone else who gave testimony, moreover, she clarified that she was never remotely told the truth about this damaging treatment. Liisa made it clear that brain damage is not what women need. She also spoke of how proud she and her brother were of her mother for coming forward like this and bearing testimony. Additional testimonials and letters of support from were read by various CAPA members.

Close to the end of the testimony was a skit which dramatized the violence inherent in electroshock. After the testimonies, Roger Ellis sang protest songs, including one shock song which again hit home the point that this appalling treatment is mainly given to women. Bonnie ended the demo by reminding everyone that we had a appointment together in this same place next year.

Here was an event with an incredible sense of community, as people listened respectfully to each other, as people spoke of horrors, as everyone raised their voices in song together, as some danced to the music, as we ate from the ample food table that was placed in the front, thereby turning Queen’s Park into the people′s picnic area, as children romped in the grass, as people strained to understand this brutal treatment. That everyone would understand accordingly to their own capacity and that this was good was driven home to this writer by a very young child, whose understanding was that the government was not properly protecting mommies (Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers) and that we had the stop the “sharks” (what she picked up when she heard the phase: Stop Shock Now). What added to the sense of community, besides that there were many mother-daughter and sister-sister teams, people from all generations attended, from two years old to eighty.

This was a remarkable beginning. A hundred and forty people were in attendance—twice the number that has ever before turned up for an anti-shock demo in Toronto. It was inspiring being there knowing that similar protests were happening in both Montreal and Cork Ireland. It was an honour being there at the birth of a new Mother’s Day tradition. In 1870, women on Mother’s Day stood up against war. On May 13, on Mother’s Day, Toronto protesters—sisters, and brothers, mothers and daughters, the very young, the old and every age in between—stood up against ECT. On Mother’s Day 1870, the protesters stood up against the killing of human beings. On Mother’s Day 2007, Toronto protesters stood up against menticide—the killing of the mind.

May the time come when this tradition is no longer needed because doctors are no longer permitted to so damage people! In the meanwhile, may the tradition continue to spread!

Co-Sponsoring Organizations:

* Sistering * The Centre for Women and Trans People at York University *


* Ontario Coalition Against Poverty * The Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/ Multicultural Women Against Rape * Lunatic Liberation Front * Mind Freedom International * School for Disability Studies at Ryerson University * Greenspiration * Resistance Against Psychiatry * The Centre for Women′s Studies in Education at OISE/UT * The Transformative Learning Centre at OISE/UT * Friendly Spike Theatre Band * Canadian Alliance for Rights in Health Care * Parkdale Community Legal Services * Street Heath * Mad Student Guerillas * Women′s Counselling Referral and Education Centre * Action Autonomie * Call Us Crazy * York University Access Centre * Toronto Disaster Relief Committee * Ithaca Mental Patients Advocacy Coalition * Assaulted Women and Children Counsellor Advocate Program at George Brown College * Action Autonomie Montréal, Comité Pare-chocs * Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre * Second Opinion Society *

Pictures, Audio and Video Clips:

Pictures of the March and Demonstration at Queen’s Park

John Bonnar

More Pictures of the March and Demonstration at Queen’s Park

Graeme Bacque

Video Clip of the Anti-Shock Demonstration

John Bonnar

Video of March

Graeme Bacque

Video of Roger Ellis’ Anti-Shock Song

Graeme Bacque

Video of Puppet Performance

Graeme Bacque

Audio Slide Show of Demonstration

John Bonnar

Audio from Demonstration

John Bonnar

Photos from the Press Conference

John Bonnar

Audio from the Press Conference

John Bonnar