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Donna Thomson

Care Activist, Independent

Donna Thomson is a care activist and systems innovator. She writes and speaks about caring in networks of support across ages and abilities.

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The Four Walls of my Freedom
by Donna Thomson
The House of Anansi


Donna Thomson began her career as an actor, director and teacher. But in 1988, when her son Nicholas was born with severe disabilities, Donna embarked on her second career as a care activist, author, consultant and writer. She now helps care for her mother who has Alzheimer's. In her book, "The Four Walls of my Freedom", (2010 in hard cover and 2014 in revised paperback, House of Anansi Press), Donna examines her personal family experience with caregiving, probing the ethics and economics of how families giving and receiving care can flourish in society. Donna examines how social innovation leading to practical solutions can help families thrive even in very challenging circumstances - a subject she blogs about regularly at her site "The Caregivers' Living Room" ( Donna is the Special Advisor for Caregiving at Tyze Personal Networks, an online tool for coordinating care at home owned by Saint Elizabeth Health Care. She is a board director of Kids Brain Health Network, a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE). She is a senior advisor on CHILD-BRIGHT, a CIHR funded national SPOR research project in childhood disability. She is the co-founder of Lifetime Networks Ottawa, a PLAN affiliate and speaks often on the subject of integrated, coordinated networks of professional and personal support to ease the way for families giving care in the community. Donna is also an instructor at the Advocacy School (Ottawa, Canada), teaching families how to employ best practice political advocacy strategies when advocating for care. She consults to hospitals and research projects, representing the interests of patients and families. Donna holds degrees in Fine Art (Theatre), Education and Theatre in Education. She has spoken on disability and family wellbeing extensively, including at the 2016 AACPDM Conference, London School of Economics, the Skoll World Forum, and the International Centre for Evidence in Disability. Donna is married to James Wright, the former High Commissioner for Canada in the UK. They have two children, one of whom has severe disabilities with medical complexity and Donna helps care for her mother (94 years young) as well. Donna lives in Ottawa, Canada when she's not escaping to the cottage in Quebec or to Cat Island, Bahamas.


  • Patient Centred Care
  • Home and Community Care
  • Family Caregiving
  • Family Engagement in Research
  • Family Wellbeing
  • Ethics and Economics of Caregiving
  • Eldercare
  • Disability Parenting
  • Caregiving


  • University of Ottawa
    B.Ed., 1977
  • The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
    Theatre in Education
    DTIE, 1997
  • Concordia University
    BFA, 1976