Inquest update and response: challenging myths, mobilizing resistance
Information and Mobilization Night

Wednesday, February 20, 2013     7-9pm
Queen Street Commons (43 Queen Street S, Kitchener)
Hosted byWe Remember Ashley Smith campaign (WRAS)
Supporting organization:  Poverty Makes Us Sick (PMUS)



After a 5-year delay, the provincial coroner’s inquest is finally underway into the death of Ashley Smith in Grand Valley Institution on October 19th, 2007. An update on the inquest proceedings will be shared.  What new information has been disclosed?  What possibilities does this process offer for systemic change?  What are its limitations?  What can we do as a community to mobilize outside of these institutional structures?

We hope to challenge the many myths that have defined the ‘official Ashley Smith story’, particularly surrounding individuals identified as suffering from poor mental health.  These powerful myths are internalized through our socialization within a capitalist society.  They are fed by the various institutions that frame the intersections of mental health and criminalization. They make impossible new ways of understanding and the necessary counter-narratives that may lead to profound social change.  How can we effectively challenge those myths in our own life and work?

In remembering Ashley Smith, we work to dismantle the systems of oppression that took her life.  We know that her story is, tragically, not unique.   In recent weeks, another woman died in a prison cell, this time in Saskatoon.  We will remember Kinew James and her own resistance to the violence and exploitation of prison while at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.

Come out and help build the resistance to the system of state violence that continues to define, criminalize, disappear and brutalize members of our community. How can be accountable to the women in our community living behind bars and most vulnerable to these state abuses? What can we do, both incrementally and radically, to challenge prisons and the criminal (in)justice system?

Ashley Smith January 29, 1988 – October 19, 2007
Ashley Smith died at the age of 19 in a segregation cell at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.  Having been denied a transfer to a psychiatric facility and on suicide watch, Ashley tied a ligature around her neck, and while staff watched, asphyxiated to death.

A provincial coroner’s inquest is now underway.  Despite attempts by the Correctional Service of Canada and several physicians implicated in her treatment to create additional obstacles and suppress information, the inquest will cover the full period that Ashley was held in federal custody.

For more information, please contact:
We Remember Ashley Smith campaign
Website coming soon!

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