Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sue's activism - part 1

Above is a picture from Left to Right: Larry Lawson, my brother Chris and John Clark protesting on Parliament Hill at the Centennial Flame in April 1984 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada . John Clark my second husband was protesting his unfair job dismissial from the Ottawa Civic Hospital where he worked as a porter for 10 years. The signs read. Larry is holding a sign that says "unfair dismissal of my job by Ottawa Civic Hospital on March 30/84. I am John Clark. I took the picture.


In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

"First they came…" is a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.
some of which were psychiatric patients.

Sue's activism - 1984

John my second husband called me from work and said he had just been fired. It was March 30, 1984
He was in tears. He said he would tell me about everything when he got home, he was too choked up
to talk at that time. I said ok. I waited for John anxiously. I was scared, upset and agonzing what were we going to live on for money. I was not working. John had worked at the Ottawa Civic Hospital for over 10 1/2 years as a porter bring patients from their rooms to the other departments in the hospitals and back. He was good at his job.

I did not know this still much later. When John was coming home he thought about committing suicide
and by jumping off the Champlain Bridge. My cousin Marcel had done that 3 years earlier. Marcel walked int the rapids near the Champlain Bridge and he drowned and died. The only thing that stopped John from committing suicide he told me was me. He did not want to hurt me. I am glad
he did not do this to himself.

John came home and was visibly shaken up. His eyes were red and I knew he must have been
crying lots. I was crying too and I had tears rolling down my face. I asked John to sit down and took his hand in his. He told me that the administrator Mr. Pearlman asked to see him and he walked into is office. He was told he was being fired. He was told he pushed a patient on a stretcher through
some doors and that the stretcher and the patient hit the wall. The patient complained of being in pain.
John never did this and would have heard the stretcher hitting the wall. The patient never said anything to John. John did not believe this, he believed they just wanted to let go of him and made
an excuse. Earlier that year I went to see Mr. Pearlman as he got a letter from the Ottawa Civic Hospital saying he took a pencil for a ward clerk's desk. He took the pencil by mistake. I told
Mr. Pearlman in his office it was ludicrious to send him a letter for a pencil. John had to mark down on a paper where he had to go so he wouldn't forget. I asked Mr. Pearlman who was the incompetent person who wrote the letter.

John and I went to the ward where they said there was a big scratch on the wall and we could see nothing at all on that wall. It had old paint and no big scratch.

I had to fight for John because he could not go into the adminstration as he was working during those hours. I had heard of other unfair dismissals from the Ottawa Civic Hospital so it was not new to me.
Recently in 2006, a porter at the same hospital told me of them trying to get rid of them and they
were fighting it.

I got angry that John was fired for no good reason. I called my mom and she told me to fight back and protest it. Well, I never protested anything before and I had to think about it and I did.
John and I talked at home for hours about what to do. I had no one to call to ask what to do. I didn't know any other protestors at all.

I called the CBC and read out the letter about the pencil incident and the CBC reporter on the line was flabbergasted. He said he would go down to our protest at the Civic Hospital on April 1, 1984.
It was a cold winter day and we got bundled up and brought some big blankets with us.
We got there about in the early evening. The CBC did not a camera available to take our story.
All their cameramen were out at the big fire at an Italian restaurant on Bank St that evening.
A man came by with a regular camera. As the reporter snapped a picture me and John, an Ottawa Police cruiser came. The reporter got into his car quickly and took off. I am glad the reporter had a chance to take a picture of us. On air that night the CBC TV news did a small clip of a picture of me and John and saying he and I were holding a protest in front of the Ottawa Civic Hospital that night. CBC said they called the Ottawa Civic Hospital administration and go no answer from them. The office was closed. It was April 1, 1984.

John and I went to the bus shelter outside the hospital and had our signs out for full view of the
car going by. Carling Ave has lots of traffic. It was getting chilly so to warm up I would walk into the
Ottawa Civic Emergency department. The Civic has hired a security guard to watch us 24/7. The security guard followed me into the hospital. I was told I could not use the bathroom. I told the staff
it was against my human rights not to be able to use the washroom, so the security relented and let me use the washroom. I would be in there sometimes for 20 minutes or more just getting warmed up.
Then I would walk back to the bus shelter and then John would do the same thing. One time John
fell asleep on the toilet seat. The security guard knocked on the stall and told John to leave and he did. All through the night we went back and forth to the washroom and the same security guard would follow us.

About 8 a.m. in the morning, John and I were sleeping in the bus shelter outside the hospital. It was
Monday, April 2nd. A man dressed up in a long wool coat came to us and said to John for him to follow him. He had to clear out his locker. John was gone with the man for about half an hour.
John came back with his pay cheque. He normally would have to wait for it but he got it. John
cleared out his locker and had some things with him

We soon left as were cold and went for breakfast down the street. It was sure nice to take off my big winter coat and have some food and something hot to drink. We got warmed up quickly in the

We did not know but the Ottawa Civic Hospital came out to us early in the morning to the bus shelter as they were warned that CJOH news was going to interview us that morning. The hospital wanted us gone and we were not there when the CJOH showed up at the hospital.

John and I called lawyer re wrong dismissal. The lawyers wanted retainers and we did not have that type of money. John made an meagre salary at the hospital.

John was called back into the hospital to talk to his union and the administration of the hospital.
John was offered another job at the hospital in the kitchen and John refused the job offer.
John was then given his superannuation and then resigned. It would say on his file he had
resigned and was not fired. John signed loads of papers and he was gone as an employee of the
hospital for good. In a way John was relieved in a way of the hospital harrassing him. He could finally sit back and relax and look for another job.

In July of that year John and I went to Disney World in Florida. John and I needed a vacation for sure. We had a great time for one week, memories that will last a lifetime. The people in Florida were so nice that I did not want to come back to Canada. They say hello to you right away. They are laid back and relaxed and never in a hurry. It is too hot in Florida to want to do anything in a hurry.
Every afternoon there was a mist of a shower that cooled things off for awhile. We stayed in a big
hotel in Kissimmee, Florida
next door to Orlando where Disney World was located.


Sue's Activism - 1988

My second husband John Clark and I had a roomer called Lynn Horn who was a friend of theirs. They lived in a two bedroom apartment at 57 Bayswater Ave in Ottawa. It was 1988.

Lynn woke me up on day and told her to get out of bed as there was a protest at the Welfare office
on Richmond Road. I got up and saw some rain pouring down and told Lynn to forget the protest.
Lynn was Sue's secretary for the group she founded "Ottawa Advocates for Psychiatric Patients"
(OAPP). Lynn said "listen lazy bones get out of bed, I am your bath water running". Sue complied and got ready for the meeting. I did not do mornings very well. I and Lynn took a local bus to the Welfare office. Lynn and Sue had umbrellas. Maxine Stata who was head of OCLISS - the Ottawa

Council for Low Income Support Services on Beech Street. Maxine had on a black raincoat and made a hat in the shape of the pope's hat and had a sign that read "Poop on the Pope". The welfare commissioner's last name was Pope. Jane Scharf was another protestor that I had just met.
I liked Jane. I asked for Jane's phone number as she was pulling away in her car after the protest. I I called Jane the next day and Jane and I have been good friends ever since.

I learned the ropes of advocacy from Jane. Jane was the co-ordinator of the McCleod Stewarton
Food Bank in Ottawa. Jane met her boyfriend Tom Welch and her daughter Tracey who was a teenager. Tracey was a nice girl. Tom and Jane had been together for a long time. Jane got her
B.A. from Carleton University in Ottawa.

Sue did not get her Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) cheque. It was the end of June.
Sue had to pay her rent. Sue had a bladder infection and needed some medication. No cheque, no drug card (Ontario Drug Benefit) from ODSP.

Sue was despondent and depressed. What was she going to do? She went to ODSP and Carol Fortier a worker told her to see her husband and get some money. Sue told the worker she was separated from John. Sue asked for a drug card to get medication for her bladder infection and Carol would not give her one. Sue was frantic by this time and called Jane at work. Jane said she would be down the ODSP office at 4:15 that afternoon to help Sue. Sue was anxious and waited patiently. Jane demanded that Sue get prompt attention at the front desk at ODSP at 10 Rideau St. Jane was told Sue could use a food bank. A police officer was called into the office and the officer spoke to Jane and Sue. He acted as though both of the women were causing problems, but that soon changed.
A young woman came into the office with a baby in a baby stroller. She was visibly very upset.
She yelled she needed to see a worker. The police officer asked the lady what was wrong. The woman said she was the McDonald's on Rideau Street and had just cashed her ODSP earlier in the day and when she was in the bathroom she put her purse down on the floor to attend to her baby and when she turned around her purse was gone, and all of her money for the month.

A worker took the woman inside the office. The police officer called some food banks for Sue but they were closed. The officer looked upset and told Sue and Jane that he would talk to a worker.
They would not make a new ODSP cheque for Sue but the officer told the staff to have Sue's cheque ready after the holiday and he would looking into the matter himself. Other police officers had been called. 3 cops were in the office. Sue and Jane and the 3 cops went into this tiny elevator, there was hardly any room to breath and Sue said outloud "I never felt so safe in all my life" and everyone laughed.

Sue got into Jane's car. Jane had some food for Sue in trunk from the food bank. Jane gave Sue $40.
to get her medication for her bladder infection. Jane took Sue out to a restaurant to eat. Sue felt better with the help of Jane's support.

Jane and Sue called Elizabeth McKenzie who was the head of the PIAC

Sue and John Clark got separated in April of 1988. Sue got John a room down the street from where they lived on Spadina Street. Sue met the lady who ran the rooming house, a nice Italian lady with a big heart. Sue had a friend named Michael "Mike" and he had separated from his wife Linda. Michael is the stepson of one of the reporters for CJOH TV. Sue and John met Michael and his wife when
they moved into the same apartment building at 57 Bayswater. They had one son, he was a year old then and he was named Steven.

One night when Sue was alone as Lynn had gone out to see some friends, Mike called Sue and wanted to see her at her apartment to talk about things as he was depressed. Sue told Mike to come over.
Mike showed up and he was a bit tipsy, as he had had some beer. Sue was laying on the couch and Mike was sitting on a chair close to her. Sue had a lamp on a coffee table beside her. Mike turned off the lamp, the only light on in the apartment. Sue thought Mike was joking around until she felt Mike climb on top of her and then started to push one her arms down on the couch. Sue yelled "stop" but Mike did not. He managed to put his weight on top of her and managed to pull off her panties as Sue had a housecoat and a nightgown on. Mike forced himself on top of Sue and Sue tried to fight him off but he was a big man. Mike raped her. After he was done, he told her not to say anything to anybody and left in a hurry and gave Sue a dirty look. Sue was in shock and she hurt down below.
Mike was rough with her.

Sue told Jane the next day what had happened. Sue told Lynn that Mike had raped her and soon Lynn moved out of Sue's apartment. Sue was stuck with having to pay all of the rent by herself and she couldn't afford to by herself. Sue had to get housing right away and applied at Ottawa Housing and her first choice was Caldwell, no one told Sue she had three choices of apartments to look at before deciding where she wanted to live.

Sue was on top priority for housing with Ottawa Housing as John Clark has physically abused 2 months before and she had police records and went to the hospital and had her bruises and cuts reported on a medical file by a doctor at the hospital. John had bruised Sue at Westgate shopping center in a corridor. Sue and John had an argument and John punched and grabbed Sue.

Sue moved into 1485 Caldwell a big building with l5 floors. Next door was another high rise also part of Ottawa Housing.