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:


Pub Night Fundraiser a Success!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to making our Beers Beyond Bars Pub Night Fundraiser a huge success! Over 70 people came out for the event and helped us raise $925 through the purchase of event passes and raffle tickets. An additional $550 came in through generous donations, bringing our grand total to $1475. This monetary support will be used to support current programs, including our Book Club, Storybook Project, and Computer Literacy working group, and will also purchase many greatly appreciated books from our library wishlists.

Special recognition goes out to PLRC members who helped plan and promote this event, as well as local raffle prize donors Madison’s GrillThe Ranch Golf and Country Club, and photographer Karen McArthur. We would also like to acknowledge the financial support of GELA and LISSA, who provided snacks for the event. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Government failing aboriginal prisoners: ombudsman

Howard Sapers released a report last week entitled Good Intentions, Disappointing Results. The report is critical of the government and the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) saying that the federal government needs to take “urgent action” to improve support programs for native prisoners or face a potential crisis. “Today my message is clear — given the urgency of the situation, I call upon the service to do the right thing and immediately appoint a deputy commissioner for aboriginal corrections,” Sapers said in a statement.

Howard Sapers was appointed the federal Correctional Investigator in Feburary 2004. The primary function of the Office of the Correctional Investigator is to investigate and bring resolution to individual offender complaints. The Office as well, has a responsibility to review and make recommendations on the Correctional Service’s policies and procedures associated with the areas of individual complaints to ensure that systemic areas of concern are identified and appropriately addressed.

Sapers has been a Board Member of the Legal Resource Centre of Alberta Ltd. since 2007.

You can read his full report here:

Crossposted at Blogosarus Lex.

Vikki Law on Adamant Eve and at the Anarchist Bookfair!

Tune in to Adamant Eve this Friday at 5:30 on CJSR 88.5 FM or on! We’re airing excerpts from my interview with Vikki Law, keynote speaker at the Edmonton Anarchist Bookfair.

Law (who I blogged about here) is an activist who supports women in prisons. She has worked to bring books to prisoners for many years and in 2003 released the first issue of the zine Tenacious: Art and Writing from Women in Prison. Issue #18 of Tenacious was recently released, and it continues to be a way for women to express themselves and have their voices heard, as well as a way to know they are not alone in their struggles. Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcertaed Women, Law’s new book, was released in March of this year and chronicles the history of women’s resistance, the issues facing women in prison, and how women continue to resist the oppressive conditions of prisons today. In our interview, Law cited supporting GELA and the Prison Subcommittee as a way people in Edmonton can be involved in supporting prisoners!

Law will be speaking at the Edmonton Anarchist Bookfair at 7pm on Friday, October 2nd at the Ukrainian Centre, 11018 97 Street. She will also be leading a workshop at the Bookfair on how to support women in prison on Saturday from 2:30-3:30pm. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to come to both events. She’ll be bringing our presence to the audience’s attention, so let’s have lots of people there!

Cross posted on Blogosarus Lex.

Anarchy, Books and Prisoners

Hey everyone! You should all come to the Edmonton Anarchist Bookfair on October 2 at 7pm. Not only are there books, the keynote speaker this year is Vikki Law, an activist who, among many other things, supports women in prisons. Law works with women to get their writing out and her own writing brings attention the struggles and resistance of women prisoners. She will be speaking on “Women’s Resistance and Organising in Prison”. From her bio at PM Press:

After a brief stint as a teenage armed robber, she became involved in prisoner support. In 1996, she helped start Books Through Bars-New York City, a group that sends free books to prisoners nationwide. In 2000, she began concentrating on the needs and actions of women in prison, drawing attention to their issues by writing articles and giving public presentations. Since 2002, she has worked with women incarcerated nationwide to produce Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison and has facilitated having incarcerated women’s writings published in larger publications, such as Clamor magazine, the website “Women and Prison: A Site for Resistance” and the upcoming anthology Interrupted Lives.

I really recommend that you come and hear her speak. I’ve been reading about her this week as I’m hoping to interview her for CJSR’s Adamant Eve (Edmonton’s only feminist news radio show! Listen Fridays at 5:30 on CJSR 88.5 FM or online at!) and the work she does is really incredible. In facilitating Tenacious, she has given women a voice and forum. Her writing criticizes past research which has ignored uprising in women’s prisons and brings attention to  issues facing women prisoners in the US, everything from the cost of tampons to the lack of jobs to the fact that the women lose all parental rights if their children have been in foster care for more than 15 months.

This Bitch interview (pdf) provides background information on Vikki Law’s work in prisons, while this interview with Grassroots Feminism provides more information about her work on Tenacious. And be sure to read Law’s own words on how Incarcerated Women Create Their Own Media.

I think creating a zine is something the committee should keep in mind for a potential future project. There are, of course, some questions around it. Do you think EIFW would let us? What would it look like if we did? What would producing it entail? Some of these questions may be answered in the lecture, and if they’re not we can ask!

The Edmonton Anarchist Bookfair will be held on October 2-4 at the Edmonton Ukrainian Centre, 11018 97 Street. Law speaks at 7pm on the Friday, October 2nd.  See you there!

Wally Lamb and prison

I was just listening to an interview on CBC with Wally Lamb – and I didn’t realize the work he’s been doing (for the past 9 years) with women at the York Correctional Institute in Connecticut.  The women from his prison writing workshop wrote a couple of books (which the institute tried to prevent from being published) and one of the women was awarded a PEN literary award.

Some of you may already be aware of this (the story is from 2004) but here’s a link for those who are interested to read/watch more: