"At 33, she has taken it on her shoulders to confront her family's dark story in an exhibition of sculptures and works on paper that come from her core. Before coming to meet with her, I reviewed the facts: In the mid-fifties, her late maternal grandmother, Velma Orlikow, was diagnosed with postpartum depression. She was sent to Montreal for treatment, to the Allan Memorial Institute at McGill University, the site of now infamous mind-control experiments under the direction of Dr. Ewen Cameron.
Though her family didn't know it at the time, the clinic was receiving funding from the CIA to conduct procedures in brainwashing. The project was called MK-Ultra, and the team made the Winnipeg mother of two, and a number of other patients, their unwitting subjects. “They were looking for the ideal Manchurian Candidate,” Johnson says. “It's almost impossible to believe, it is just so crazy.”
Over the course of several stays, her grandmother was subjected to intensive electro-convulsive therapy, with an aim to wipe her memory clean for re-programming.