Paul Quinn – interview
Paul Quinn is a deeply caring person. He worked in Toronto’s community mental health sector during years grassroots activism, harsh cutbacks inflicted by the Harris provincial government, and increasing dominance of a medical model of mental health care.
Born in 1948 and raised in Toronto, Quinn received a general degree in sociology and psychology from the University of Windsor. An illuminating stint at the Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital served to re-orientate his interaction with people labelled “disabled” from a caregiving to an enabling role. Quinn’s worked at Toronto’s PARC (Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre) from 1981 to 1988 and then moved east across the city centre to a position at the Gerstein Centre. He retired at the end of 2013 and spent 3 years representing Gerstein Centre on the mental health sub committee of the Toronto services Board and 4 years as co chair of Working for Change.
This 78 minute oral history interview covers Quinn’s work at PARC during its first years of its operation and his subsequent career at the Gerstein Centre, a non-medicalized model in crisis support. Topics covered include Paul’s family connections with the Parkdale neighbourhood, his memories of clients and coworkers at PARC, the shift at PARC from a hierarchical system to a model of participatory democracy, the founding of the Gertstein Centre and its early years of operation, key figures in the field that Quinn’s work intersected with including Mary Stern, Bob Rose, Riva Gerstein, Pat Capponi. Interview by Megan Davies, filming by Willie Willis at Toronto’s Gerstein Centre, 2009.
Key Words: mental health, housing, PARC, Pat Capponi, Riva Gerstein, crisis supports, government, trauma, Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, police, abuse, men, women, medicalization, friendship, humanitarianism, rooming houses, recreation, Edmond Yu, funding, safety, Gerstein Centre, advocacy, deinstitutionalization, CAMH, poverty, trauma.