International Women’s Day demo at GVI


Friday, March 8th, 2013   4pm
Grand Valley Institution for Women

Women Don’t Belong in Cages!
Prison is Not a Housing Program!

Let’s let the women in GVI know that they are not forgotten!
Bring noisemakers, signs and lots of people!  
International Women’s Day is a global day of celebration of women and a day of resistance to all forms of gendered violence, exploitation and oppression. Women living behind prison walls are denied many of the basic “rights and freedoms” that will be celebrated by women all over the world on this day. Not only are incarcerated women more likely to have experienced both interpersonal as well as structural violence (poverty, racism, colonialism, ableism, etc.) than most other women, but every day they are forced to endure the state violence that is the prison system.
Grand Valley Institution for Women (GVI) is a federal prison located in Kitchener.  GVI is one of the institutions in which Ashley Smith faced torture, and it is where she was allowed to asphyxiate to death as guards looked on.  In recent months, Kinew James came forward to confront the sexual violence and exploitation perpetrated by guards at GVI.  Shortly after Kinew was transferred away from GVI she too died on a prison floor.  The system has attempted to silence voices of women who have dared to speak up.  Tragically we know that these stories are not unique.  We also know that women within GVI continue to resist the attempts by this institution to disappear and to silence them.  Among others currently in GVI, Nyki Kish continues to fight for freedom and for justice. Let’s act in solidarity with these women in their struggles until these prison walls are themselves disappeared.
In a report for the Harper Regime: Annual Report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator 2011-2012, Howard Sapers reported a severe spike in “self-harming behaviours” among people imprisoned in women’s institutions, in conjunction with an ongoing increase in the number of people held in solitary confinement.  The report also exposed the high rate of post incarceration mental health diagnosis and medication. On this international day of celebration and resistance, let’s demonstrate our love and solidarity with the women in our community held behind the prison walls.  
With new mandatory minimum sentences at the federal level and massive cuts to social services, including a homelessness prevention benefit called the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit, at the provincial level, there has been a renewed commitment to challenging the prison system.   As the powers continue to widen their criminalization of dissent, let’s once again come together to oppose the isolation and brutality of the prison in our backyard.

More info on the experience of women in prison:
Things That Shouldn’t Happen, written by Mandy Hiscocks while she was incarcerated at Milton’s Vanier Centre for Women.

Presented by We Remember Ashley Smith


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