Listening to the Margins

June 22 to July 7, 2022

Location:  Parkview Gallery

Presented by: School of Early Childhood Studies, Toronto Metropolitan University

Opening Reception: Thursday, June 22, 2023 from 7 pm to 9 pm

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), this art exhibition blends artistic contributions from two projects: (1) Listening to the Margins, and (2) Illustrating Inequities in Health Care: Services, Access, Navigation and Interpretation (SANI Project). Both projects are focused on unpacking intersectional experiences of disability, race, illness, childhood, and culture in contemporary society. All the artistic works that you will experience, speak to and address experiences and themes that are often neglected in contemporary discourse. As you explore the art, you will encounter themes concerning stigma, social exclusion, diaspora, and unrecognized/inequitable labour, to name a few.

The Listening to the Margins Art Exhibition has emerged from a national two-day conference held at the Toronto Metropolitan University in February 2022. The conference (also titled ‘Listening to the Margins’) was inspired by the late black feminist Bell Hooks’ perspective on marginality and resistance. Although the margin is that which stands apart from the centre, it can also be considered as a place of radical possibility and change where counter-hegemonic discourses can be generated. Using this idea from bell hooks, at our conference, we focused on listening to communities on the childhood disability margin who have rarely been heard or seen. In this way, we aimed to de-centre Whiteness and ability in childhood research and care.

The conference brought together parties invested in equitable and inclusive pediatric health care from across Canada, including parents, children with disabilities, health care providers, educators, policy makers, and students. Speakers and attendees engaged in conversations (many of which were emotionally charged) about experiences and structures concerning childhood disability, race, and illness. To help navigate and advance understanding about these challenging topics, we engaged the arts, such as dance and music, and offered therapeutic support during the conference. After the conference, we collated the insights we learned to produce a Best Practices Guide for Anti-Racist and Culturally Safe Pediatric Research and Care. The guide is called Listening to the Margins: Insights from a National Network of Community Members on Conducting Anti-Racist and Culturally-Safe Research and Care for Racialized and Disabled Children, Youth, and Families in Canada. This guide can be found by using the QR code on this poster, or you can take home a copy home today!

After the conference, our exhibition designer, Joseph Cannizzaro, developed the vision for this art exhibition. Guided by Dr. Fiona Moola of Toronto Metropolitan University and Dr. Tim Ross of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Joseph worked with people across Canada who identify as living at the intersection of disability, race, and illness. After designing an art activity for these people, Joseph carefully mentored them to help them create and share their artistic visions on race, disability, and illness, which are on display in this exhibition. The artists used an array of methods, including pastel work, painting, 3D construction, mapping, and drawing. The art activity Joseph created also engaged the use of mapping as well as portraiture.

This exhibition also features arts-based research products created by SANI Project participants. This research project was led by Zehra Kamani and Drs. Tim Ross and Fiona Moola. We decided to blend together art products from the SANI Project and Listening to the Margins in this gallery since the two projects have aligned aims that speak to and address issues of race, culture, illness, childhood, and disability in contemporary society.

The SANI Project was funded through grants from the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Centre for Leadership and the Centre for Global Disability Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. This project seeks to under- stand the healthcare experiences of racialized youth with disabilities, their parents/caregivers, and the healthcare providers who serve them. Participants were asked to complete an arts-based activity of their choice from three options: draw-and-write, photovoice, and portraiture. After completing their art activity, each participant completed a semi-structured interview where their art was discussed. Participants were provided with various art tools (e.g., pastels, acrylic paints, pencil crayons, markers, sketching pencils) to illustrate experiences, positive or negative, that were mem- orable to them as they underwent their journey of navigating the pediatric healthcare system and receiving services to support their disability in Ontario. Participants included racialized youth living with disability, parents of racialized youth living with disability, and the healthcare providers who serve them.

As you look at the art today, we encourage you to take and review a copy of our Best Practices Guide for Anti-Racist and Culturally Safe Pediatric Research and Care, as it may prompt questions and aid your engagement with the art. Please do feel free to share the guide widely. As you look at the art, we also encourage you to reflect upon your own history and lived experiences pertaining to race and disability. Where do your ideas of race come from and how do they shape your perceptions and actions? How do you understand and feel about disability? How does viewing this art make you feel? Are there any issues or themes that are missing for you in the art? What, if anything, have you learned from the art? We encourage you to lean into and ponder the space of childhood disability and race, and to share your reflections and questions with others. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us by emailing Dr. Fiona Moola at We would love to receive your input!

Thank you for attending our art exhibition! Thank you also to the many parties whose voices and efforts made this art exhibition possible. We feel deep gratitude toward our funders. We are also incredibly grateful to the talented artists and research participants who had the courage to create and share their art on race and disability with us. Without their time and effort, this exhibition would not be possible. Many thanks to the following parties:

Listening to the Margins artists, conference speakers and participants
• SANI Project research participants
• Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
• Toronto Metropolitan University
• Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Centre for Leadership
• Centre for Global Disability Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough
• Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
• Cory Therrien, Neilson Park Creative Centre
• Our amazing Project Team:
• Zehra Kamani, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
• Tharanni Pathmalingam, McMaster University
• Nivatha Moothathamby, University of Toronto
• Alyssa Neville, Queens University
• Dr. Aliya Amarshi, Toronto Metropolitan University
• Aman Sium, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
• Beth Dangerfield, Flourish on Queen, Parent Leader
• Kathia Johnson, University of Toronto

• Samira Omar, University of Toronto

• Tamara Tynes-Powel, Parent Leader

• Sydney Campbell, University of Toronto

• Methuna Naganathan, SAAAC Autism Centre

• Dilshad Kassam-Lallani, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital