This past Friday, Senator St. Germaine and I had the honour of presenting at the conference, entitled, “The Need for Justice and Equality for Indigenous and All Women” cohosted by the Elixabeth fry society du Quebec, the association canadienne des societies Elizabeth fry et l’University de Montreal.
Held on unceded Mohawk territory, opened by Kanehsatake Elder John Cree, andEllen Gabriel, Cultural consultant for the Kanehsata:ke Language and Cultural Centre. The conference included a message from Senator Murray Sinclair and presentations by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, and six courageous Indigenous women, 5 of whom have experienced marginalization and victimization, as well as criminalization and imprisonment.
Two attended residential schools – all experienced the inter-generational impact, and against all odds, are now building their lives, as they integrate into communities across this country. The youngest was born in prison and is graduating high school this month and commencing her studies at the University of Saskatchewan this fall.
To each of them, to Joey, Yvonne, Odelia, Lisa, Kaila and to Haley, I say, Meegwetch. Thank you for your bravery, your resilience and your strength …. Thank you for surviving some of the most unimaginable horrors. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to walk with, learn from and advocate on behalf of you.
We also heard about the extreme lack of funding allotted to First Nations communities for the education of children – 1/3rd less than any other Canadian child living off reserve. In fact, only one in six has grown up with clean drinking water – that would be as if only 17 of us in this Chamber would have had the opportunity to actually drink water from our taps…
It was Supreme Court of Canada Justice Rosalee Abella who once observed, “We have no business figuring out the cost of justice until we can figure out the cost of injustice,”…Honourable Senators.
It was Gord Downie who said that when it comes to the poverty, racism and discrimination suffered by the Aboriginal people of Canada – we have been trained to look away. I urge each and every one of us to not look away.
As stated by, Cindy Blackstock, we must act now to ensure that future generations of Indigenous children don’t have to recover from their childhood – and future generations non Indigenous children don’t have to say they’re sorry…
Thank you, Merci, Meegwetch”
— Senator Kim Pate
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We, the undersigned, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, call upon the Government of Canada to review and remedy the cases of all women prisoners placed in segregation in federal prisons for women over the past five years.
For those who cannot attend CAEFS and Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa’s conference, The A Word: Reclaiming Advocacy, you can live stream the event June 3rd, from 8h00-17hr30
The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) celebrates National Elizabeth Fry Week annually. Elizabeth Fry Societies across the country organize public events in their communities throughout the week.
Our goal is to enhance public awareness and education regarding the circumstances of victimized and criminalized women involved in the criminal justice system.
We hope to gradually break down the negative stereotypes that exist about women who are imprisoned and institutionalized.
National Elizabeth Fry Week is always the week preceding Mother’s Day. The majority of women who are criminalized and imprisoned are mothers. Most of them were the sole supporters of their families at the time they were incarcerated.
When mothers are sentenced to prison, their children are sentenced to separation. We try to draw attention to this reality by ending Elizabeth Fry Week on Mother’s Day each year.
By focusing on “Meeting Women’s Needs in the Community and Alternatives to Institutionalization”, our 24 member societies encourage Canadians to examine some productive and responsible means of encouraging community responses to addressing criminal justice matters from coast to coast.
Our hope is that, particularly in this time of fiscal restraint, this sort of proactive focus will encourage the development of and support for community-based alternatives to costly incarceration.
CAEFS challenges Canadians to reach behind the walls and bring women into our communities, so that they may take responsibility and account for their actions in ways that make sense to them and to us.
Web site: http://law.usask.ca/find-people/sallows-fry-conference.php
THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2015
Welcome Remarks (Video): Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights Kim Pate, Acting Dean Beth Bilson,Senator Lillian Dyck, Chief Commissioner David Arnot
FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2015