Source: Montreal Newswire / The Dawn / December 31, 2015 (Laval, QC) – Around 50 people gathered outside the prisons in Laval to wish a Happy New Year to people locked up. With noise-makers, fireworks, music, and speeches they sent a message of solidarity to the prisoners who are separated from friends, family, and community this holiday season. The participants highlighted the fact that prisoners are hit the hardest by cuts to social services and professed their solidarity with women in the Tanguay Provincial Prison and migrants imprisoned in the detention centre in Lindsay, Ontario, both of whom have released lists of demands concerning their conditions.
“Though the Harper government’s ‘tough on crime’ agenda is no longer dictating prison policy in Canada, and though Justin Trudeau promises to implement the recommendations of the coroner’s inquest into the death of Ashley Smith, we think this country has a long way to go before it can claim to have a ‘just’ justice system,” said Annie Tremblay, one of the people in attendance. “Trudeau talks of nation to nation relationships with First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples while continuing to hold thousands of indigenous people in prison. We think nation to nation means giving the land back and that overhauling the justice system means releasing all the prisoners.”
The Couillard provincial government is planning to close the Tanguay prison for women on the island of Montreal, unfortunately this won’t mean fewer women inprison. All the people imprisoned in Tanguay will be moved to Leclerc in Laval, where they will face many cuts to programming. Today marks the release of a list of demands from women in Tanguay. (Their manifesto is online at https://toutedetentionestpolitique.wordpress.com/ .) The writers of the demands decry the lack of adequate food, cleaning supplies, and access to hygiene products. The women are demanding access to reinsertion programs, more time on the yard, and medical care for people going through withdrawal, among other things. “Women demanding better conditions for themselves in Tanguay Provincial Prison are an integral part of the fight against austerity. We must connect their struggle inside prison to our struggles on the outside,” said Tania Dubeau, an organizer with the group All Detentions are Political. This evening’sdemonstration was held in support of their demands, for the closure of allprisons, and an end to patriarchal violence.
The Trudeau government is welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, which, while a step in the right direction, is only a small fraction of the people displaced by war and violence worldwide. At the same time, the government continues to ignore the plight of migrants in detention in Canada. Migrants detained at the Immigraton Detention Centre in Laval are often held indefinitely. Many other migrants are held in maximum security wings of provincial jails. Imprisoned migrants have been demanding that Canada immediately freepeople who have been held longer than 90 days and stop holding migrants in maximum security jails, among other things. Their demands can be found hereendimmigrationdetention.com. “Today we demonstrate in support of these demands and as part of the fight to end all colonial borders,” said Veronica Woolfe, one of the organizers of the demonstration.
“Today and every day, we fight to tear down the prison walls. Every year on New Year’s Eve, we march out to the prisons to yell our support across the barriers that are meant to separate us. We try to bring some New Year’s festivities to folks behind bars. As we ring in a new year, we celebrate another year of resistance to prisons and resolve to keep fighting for prisoner liberation,” added Woolfe.
Reproduced from the Montreal Newsletter
Media contact: (514) 360-8515
English, Veronica Woolfe
French, Tania Dubeau
This is the English-language newswire for social justice groups in Montreal.
To subscribe to the French-language newswire, send a message to [email protected].