1988 – Montreal – Tisha Cunningham

A 16 Year-Olds Most Exciting Experience In Montreal

My name is Tisha Cunningham; most know me as Tisha Auberger, or Babs and Mike’s oldest daughter. I have been protesting for disability rights since I was 9. (Yea, I’m the first ADAPT kid). And I would like to share my most exciting experience in ADAPT. So here goes.

You know, I was only 16 years old, so I don’t remember everything; I am only telling what will NEVER leave my memory.

It was early in the morning and Uncle Wade and Molly were calling us to get in the van, we were going to Montreal, Canada. We got to the airport, got on the plane, and thank god I got to sit with my Uncle Mel, he was the coolest. A few hours later we land and as usual there was Mom ready to pick us up.

Now, the driving, let me tell ya, I would never drive there, I will have to say at many points, my Mom was a hero with driving. Strangely I was pretty happy that I was not old enough to drive yet, or at least I thought I wasn’t. We were leaving one of our hits, folks were being arrested and Mom tells me to go with Molly… I get everyone loaded in Uncle Wade’s van (as usual he is off to jail with my Dad). Molly has never driven a van, and I am asked to drive. NO!! There is no way I am driving, not in this country. So I helped guide Molly in driving a van. She did a good job, but I am glad it was her and not me.

Now the most memorable hit, to me, was at night, at the hotel were APTA was staying, and that night they were having a party or something going on. I will never ever forget that night.

I was so tired of doing homework, and my Dad comes in. Mom and him tell me that we are going to sneak to our location in just a few hours, I need to get ready, and make sure I grab my coat. They then tell me that it is going to be really cool; we are waiting for dark, taking the alleyways and sneaking up on APTA at their hotel. At some point on the way, we are going to split up. Mom is going in through a side door that Uncle Wade got to stay unlocked, and Dad and I are going in through the front doors. We are going to shut this hotel down from inside and out. At that point, I am soo hyped.

The time comes. We are so quiet, I never thought ADAPT could be this quiet. 1 block, 2 blocks, we are almost there. Dad turns and looks at me “Tisha, when we get there, I want you to stay behind me, and keep up”. My heart is beating so hard, I think it is going to pop out. I see the hotel. A couple of folks have gotten in. The bellmen with luggage carts are now blocking the doors. They think that is going to stop us. Dad screams “Tisha grab my chair… Come on… Push, Push”.

I’m pushing my Dad’s chair as hard as I can…. My heart is racing so hard, I can’t see anything or hear anything… Get my Dad in!! That is all I can think about now…. BOOOOM… I DID IT, I DID IT, we are in. “Did you see that Dad, they looked like bowling pins”. Wow, I got him in. Not long after, the police start to arrest. Hey there goes Uncle Bob. Bye Aunt Stephanie. See ya Dad, love ya. Uncle Frank gives me Frasier. Wait, not Mom.

“Take Frasier, stay with the group, go straight to our room and don’t leave, everything will be ok honey, I love you.”

“I love you too Mom”. Ok, so I thought, “I can do this, I am 16 years old, I don’t need anyone to baby-sit me”.

After about an hour, off we went. As we walked I made sure Frasier did his duties, and went straight to my room. I remember thinking, hey, this is kind of cool, here by myself. A couple of hours of watching TV, talking on the phone with my boyfriend and playing with Frasier

I was ready for bed, so I thought. The phone rings, I thought it was my Mom letting me know she will be back soon. Nope, it was some lady telling me that my Mom and Dad are going to be in jail for a while and there is a chance that Canada’s Social Service is going to take me. I hung up. Now at this point I was most definitely freaking out. And at that point, yes, I was crying to a dog. Let’s put the cherry on top of this Sunday, I hear noise at the door, can this night get any worse?

Hey, it was my Mom, and thank god. I had never been soo happy to see her. At that point everything was all good again. What a beautiful smile on her face, and that hug, yes 16 years old, and Mom’s hug felt sooo good, warm and sooo safe at that moment. I told Mom everything that happened. She felt bad that I had to go through that, but assured me that I was fine and NO ONE was taking me away.

Lot’s of other stuff happened as I am sure you figured, more actions, more arrest, you know a typical ADAPT action, but I just wanted to share with you the most exciting memory of mine. And that is my story of my most exciting experience as a 16-year-old protester in Montreal, Canada.