August 10 is Prisoners’ Justice Day (PJD), “a day set aside to remember all the men and women who have died unnatural deaths inside Canadian prisons.” (PrisonJustice.ca) It started following the death of Eddie Nalon, a man imprisoned in Ontario. His story may be difficult for some to read. PJD is a statement and call for action on various health and welfare issues, including action on systemic racism; action on prison reform (do you know that a high rate of women are in prison for protecting themselves against their abusers?); action for healthcare; action to oppose prison and police violence (see the complete list).
Here are a few pieces for learning and action. If you are hosting a Prisoners’ Justice Day event, or have resources you want to share, please send to [email protected] by August 6 @noon.
Reach Out— Pathways not Prisons Campaign
The Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver is calling on communities to act on creating pathways, not prisons, for women. “Poverty, mental health conditions and substance use can lead women down a dangerous road with few choices. 92% of women in prison are incarcerated for minor crimes, sentenced to six months or less. While posing virtually no risk to public safety, imprisonment utterly derails their lives and can irreparably harm the lives of their children. There is a better way. We’re calling for changes to sentencing considerations, an end to systemic racism in government, alternatives to incarceration, to support stability in children’s lives and help divert them from future justice system involvement, and more.” Read the calls and share your support.
The Vancouver Prison Justice Day Memorial takes place on Tuesday August 10 from 6 PM to 8 PM beside the Claire Culhane Memorial Bench, in the southeast corner of Trout Lake Park. This event is being organized on the occupied, unceded and ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ílwətaʔɬ(Tsleil-Waututh) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Coast Salish Nations. PJD is organized in the spirit of solidarity with all communities impacted by incarceration.
In 2020, a group of previously incarcerated men were invited to learn photography as a medium to document their lives. The men created collections of photos that express their resilience through hardship. Shifting Focus is part of a larger project aimed at raising trauma awareness and fostering resilience among men who have been incarcerated.
Find Support— Unlocking the Gates Services Society
Unlocking the Gates Services Society (UTG) is a peer-led, non-profit organization that supports the reintegration of individuals who are being released from correctional facilities in British Columbia. We connect with individuals prior to their release, and provide peer support during the transition from prison back into the community.
If you are hosting a Prisoners’ Justice Day event, or have resources you want to share, please send to [email protected] by August 6 @noon.