“The brains of a nation”: The eugenicist roots of Canada’s mental health field and the building of a white non-disabled nation

Wong, E. H. S. (2012). Not Welcome A Critical Analysis of Ableism in Canadian Immigration Policy from 1869 to 2011. Critical Disability Discourses/Discours critiques dans le champ du handicap, 4.
https://crsp.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/crsp/article/view/40261

This paper examines the literature published by the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene (CNCMH), a precursor to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), from 1918-1921, and its connection to eugenicist social policies. Specifically, this study involves a critical discourse analysis of the Canadian Journal of Mental Hygiene (CJMH) published by the CNCMH, which illustrates how the roots of Canada’s mental health field are linked to a nation-building project deeply intertwined with eugenicist notions of race and disability. Foundation myths that reinforce the Canadian nation were also imbued in the literature, including: Canadian identity as linked to white non-disability, Canada as tabula rasa, and eugenicist fears of the ‘over-population’ of ‘undesirables’. On the basis of these foundation myths, the CNCMH considered mental hygiene discourse and practice as a means to further Canada as a white nondisabled nation. The desire to further the Canadian nation in this manner led to the promotion of eugenicist social policies. Many of these policies – especially, immigration controls – were put into place by the Canadian government and remain to this day.

Refugee Welcome Banner at TFC Game


Refugees Welcome banner unfurled for the second match in the row after a community resistance led to MLSE overturning a previous decision to bar “Refugees Welcome” banners from the stadium. We were kindly invited to bring the banner over to RPB Supporters Group Section 112, where the banner received a raucous reception.

Social Work as a ‘Bullshit Job’: Critiques of Social Work’s Potential for Social Justice in the Context of Professionalization and its Code of Ethics

I recently participated in a focus group examining “contemporary social work students’ responses to social justice practice principles as stated in the Social Work Code of Ethics”, and thought I’d collect some of the ideas I had shared about the topic. Some see the code of ethics and mobilization within the profession as a venue for the furthering of social justice, but a broader analysis of social work and my experience in the field has led me to find this problematic. I do believe, as Bonnycastle’s “From Social Equality to Compassion: A Critique of the 2005 CASW Code of Ethics” expressed, that the code can illuminate trends that are occurring in the field. Bonnycastle specifically suggested that the trends seem to sway towards neoliberalism. The removal of mentions of egalitarianism and humanitarianism from the code’s preamble was telling, but I believe that even the elements of the code referring to […]