Books Behind Bars documentary screening – March 31st

The GELA Women’s Prison Library and Reintegration Subcommittee and the Edmonton Public Library invite you to attend the screening of Books Behind Bars on March 31 at 7 pm in the Theatre of the Stanley A. Milner Library in downtown Edmonton.

Books Behind Bars is a short documentary film that follows the development and growth of the library, its programs, and the people inside the only multi-level women’s prison facility in Western Canada.

Over the past few years, the Subcommittee has grown from a group of four librarians to a group of over twenty active volunteers, who organize many projects, such as books clubs, book drives, and borrowing projects.  Among these is the Storybook Project, where the volunteers record women reading to their children, and send the recordings, along with the books, to their children.”

A panel discussion will follow the presentation.  This event is being held as a fundraiser to support the on-going library projects at the prison and to purchase materials for the prison library – anyone can attend for free but the suggested donation is $10 or whatever you can afford. Other donations will also be gratefully accepted.


The Current Podcast: Women’s Prisons

Today, CBC’s The Current ran a segment about Women’s Prisons in Canada:

The Federal Government is considering a bill that would bring in mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes. That would mean more people in Canada’s prisons. And according to the Correctional Investigator of Canada, that’s a big problem … especially for women.

You can listen to the podcast of the interview with “Rachel” a woman on parole who speaks very frankly about her experiences in Grand Valley Prison in Ontario, as well as an interview with Howard Sapers the Ombudsman for Corrections Canada.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Senator Mitchell’s statement to the Senate about Women in Prisons in Canada

Back in October, Senator Grant Mitchell attended one of our fundraising events and spoke to a number of our committee volunteers about the work we are doing at the Edmonton Institution for Women.  Inspired by that event,  Senator Mitchell rose in the Senate in December and delivered the following statement:

Committee Email list updated (again)

Please see Jocelyn’s private post from September 24 about the email contact list. I just added a bunch more names – so please use that list as the most recently updated one!

And remember that the post with the list is set to private so you need to be logged in as an administrator to see it. Contact Jocelyn to hook you up with the all-powerful admin status!


Meeting minutes: October 25 general committee

Thanks to Jorden for being awesome minute-taker!

The minutes of the meeting are here: 25_10-2010 Minutes

Please be aware of all ACTION items in the minutes (they are highlighted in red) – also, there are a few volunteer opportunities to be aware of (also highlighted in red):

  1. Volunteering for Storybook project
  2. Volunteering with bookclub(s)
  3. Volunteering with the EPL book borrowing project
  4. Volunteering on the fundraising committee to put on a art show/fundraiser at Latitude 53 in the new year

Thanks to everyone who attended and to all those who submitted reports/regrets!

GELA Pub Night 2010: Beers Beyond Bars

Please join us for this exciting fundraiser, held to support the work of GELA’s Prison Library and Reintegration Committee.  Tickets are $10 and include a free drink before 10pm.

When: Friday, October 8th 2010 from 6-10 pm (raffle draw at 9pm)
Where: Celis’s Irish Pub – 10338 109 St NW
What: Raffles (art, restaurant and golf prizes)
Why: Meet other information professionals, and find out more about GELA, LISAA and the Prison Library and Reintegration committee.

While we encourage you to reserve advance tickets by emailing Tara (, a limited supply will be available for purchase at the door.

This event is generously sponsored by GELA and LISAA. For more information:

Prisoner Correspondence Project

One of our newest committee members, Marcus  is about to become a penpal with an incarcerated individual through the Prisoner Correspondence Project –  he told me that they are interested in stepping up their outreach efforts into prisons across Canada and wish to connect with people or organizations that do work on the inside of the prison system.

Some information about the project:

The Prisoner Correspondence Project is a collectively-run initiative based out of Montreal, Quebec. It coordinates a direct-correspondence program for gay, lesbian, transsexual, transgender, gendervariant, two-spirit, intersex, bisexual and queer inmates in Canada and the United States, linking these inmates with people a part of these same communities outside of prison. In addition, it coordinates a resource library of information regarding harm reduction practice (safer sex, safer drug-use, clean needle care), HIV and HEPC prevention, homophobia, transphobia, coming out, etc. The project also aims to make prisoner justice and prisoner solidarity a priority within queer movements on the outside through events like film screenings, workshops, and panel discussions which touch on the broader issues relating to criminalization and incarceration of queers and transfolk.
The Prisoner Correspondence Project is a working group of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at Concordia University and an affiliate group of the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy.

If any other committee members are interested in this initiative, contact Marcus or the Prison Correspondence Project for more information.