Call-In Campaign: Being Queer Is Not A Crime! Support Prisoners At GVI

We received word of this from our friends in Southern Ontario. Please forward and share this call-in campaign details with your networks, supportive churches or activist groups. Sharing it is super important, but please give the prison a call yourself too.


_-share publicly with friends, family and amongst your networks-_

At Grand Valley Institute for Women (GVI), a federal prison in Kitchener, Ontario there has been a recent crackdown against LBTQ2+ prisoners and/or prisoners in relationships amongst themselves. Intimate relationships between prisoners are being attacked by a clique of guards acting without apparent direction or oversight from the Corrections Canada administration. We need your support with a call-in campaign to end these practises.

Harassment of prisoners includes throwing them in solitary as punishment for being in a relationship, threatening them with transfers to remote parts of the country, separating partners by placing them in different parts of the prison, and laying spurious institutional charges that can lead to being locked in the maximum security unit.

Most troublingly, guards have been using physical intimidation and invasions of personal space to harass prisoners who speak up against these practices. In violation of their own rules individual guards have been entering prisoners’ cells at night,with an institutional history of sexual violence and exploitation of prisoners by guards at GVI, this can only be understood as a threat.

All of this is happening due to a growing culture of impunity among the guards, created by a power vacuum at higher levels. GVI currently has no warden overseeing the actions of the guards and doesn’t expect to hire one for another year. The Federal Corrections Investigator whom handles oversight and prisoner grievances, didn’t have his contract renewed by the federal government, leaving no one to respond to grievance reports filed by prisoners. Compounding all this, the recent elections have left the government without a sitting Minister of Public Safety and the prisoners are left without the flimsy accountability that may offer. GVI still has not made any of the necessary changes with respect to the Ashley Smith inquiry, which drew national attention as the prison was investigated by a coroner’s inquest into a prisoners death in segregation.

The prisoners have been organizing in response to these attacks, but have faced increasing repression for their efforts. Their attempts to start an official two-spirited group were turned down, and there has been little ability to meet or congregate without official consent (by  contrast, an application for an association of white prisoners, made by white supremacist inmates, was approved immediately).

Outside support right now can make a major difference in putting a check on the repression of prisoner relationships and dissent among prisoners.


Call Grand Valley Institute for Women at (519) 894-2011. Ask for the acting warden. Even if you’re not able to speak with the warden, the person on the line can take a message for you. It’s important to get these questions and demands in to the prison, so be confident and firm. Tell them criminalizing sexuality and deny prisoners in segregation their rights need to stop now, ask them to address some of these questions or read the prepared statement below:

* Why are you criminalizing inmates’ sexuality?

* Which of the Commissioner Directives (policies from CSC) states that
physical intimacy is illegal? (spoiler: none of them)

* Why are you denying people in segregation access to their lawyer?

* Why is there currently no meaningful way for inmates to file
grievances about abuses of power by guards?


Hello, can I please speak with the acting warden?

My name is (Insert Name Here) and I am calling to address the alarming conditions inmates are experiencing in Grand Valley Institute for Women. Word has gotten out that through the practises of your guards, prisoners rights are being trampled upon and prisoners sexuality has been criminalized. This needs to end now. There is no policy within the Commissioners Directive that gives guards the authority to deny consensual physical intimacy or expression of sexuality among prisoners. Harassment and punishment of prisoners for their sexual preferences and dissent against this treatment needs to stop immediately.

I demand that you stop denying prisoners in segregation their right to see their lawyers. Approve the application of the prisoners two-spirited group to meet. Address the issue with your superiors of providing a meaningful ways for prisoners to file grievances against abuses of power by guards to a functioning, independent organization. Get your guards under control and stop the continued punishment of prisoners for their sexuality and dissent.

Now that these situations have been brought to my attention, I will continue to follow the situation to ensure these issues are resolved. THANK YOU FOR MAKING THIS CALL! Nowget all your friends to call, too!

Visit the website:, to share with others about what making the call was like for you and for further updates.

In solidarity,

GVI Watch

GVIWatch [at] riseup [dot] net


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Book Launch: Lumpen, The Autobiography of Ed Mead

Book Launch and Discussion with Author Ed Mead (via Skype) and Publisher Karl Kersplebedeb

7pm on Tuesday, November 17th at the AKA Autonomous Social Centre
Red and Black House, Queen and Wellington (map) (enter by ramp)
Wheelchair Accessible
Facebook event here

We are thrilled to host the Kingston launch of Lumpen. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from author Ed Mead via Skype and publisher Karl Kersplebedeb about this exciting new text and pick up a copy! See below for a full description of the book. For more info contact us.



More than a memoir, Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead takes the reader on a tour of America’s underbelly. From Iowa to Compton to Venice Beach to Fairbanks, Alaska, Mead introduces you to poor America just trying to get by—and barely making it. When a thirteen-year-old Mead ends up in the Utah State Industrial School, a prison for boys, it is the first step in a story of oppression and revolt that will ultimately lead to the foundation of the George Jackson Brigade, a Seattle-based urban guerrilla group, and to Mead’s re-incarceration as a fully engaged revolutionary, well-placed and prepared to take on both his captors and the predators amongst his fellow prisoners.

Through his work organizing against conditions in solitary confinement, and then with queer prisoners in the legendary Men Against Sexism, followed by his exile from Washington to the dungeons at Marion, Brushy Mountain, and Florence, Ed Mead’s practice stands as a rebuke to the inhumanity and indifference which surround the world’s largest prison system.

As the late Black Liberation Army soldier Safiya Bukhari observed, “we must at least write our history and point out the truth of what we did—the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Ed Mead has done that here, recounting his life’s story with unflinching honesty, providing a model of personal integrity and revolutionary creativity and determination for us all.

What People Are Saying

“Lumpen is a page-turning retelling of Ed Mead’s life, from his early days growing up on the frontier of Alaska, to the frontiers of prisoner organizing from inside and later outside prison. The everydayness of his descriptions of how the George Jackson Brigade came to be, to the simple necessity to form Men Against Sexism while behind bars, reminds us that everyday justice can lead us to extraordinary places. In a mostly ahistorical queer left, this book is a must read!”  -Ryan Conrad, editor of Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion

“There are many who talk the talk. Ed Mead is one who actually walked the walk. In fact, he’s never stopped walking it, an example of commitment and integrity from which there’s much to be learned. His autobiography should be read by everyone serious about the struggle for liberation.” -Ward Churchill



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Remembering Peter Collins


Peter Collins, artist, activist, dear friend and brother, passed away
August 13, 2015. He is remembered for his work for justice, his creativity,
his sense of humour, his kind heart and his unwavering integrity.

Join us at a gathering in Kingston, on Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee
territory, to remember Peter on Sunday, August 30th from 2-4pm at AKA
Autonomous Social Centre, the red and black house on Queen St at Wellington
St, up the ramp.  This is an opportunity to reflect on Pete’s art and music
and to share memories. All are welcome and refreshments will be provided.
For more information about Peter, please visit:


We are having a memorial service for my brother Peter Collins who passed
away on August 13th, 2015.

Please join us Saturday, August 29th, 2015 from 1-4pm for a service in
Ottawa (Algonquin Territory). Reflections on Prison (In)justice: The Life
and Work of Peter Collins
Location: Room 4004 (4th Floor), Faculty of Social Sciences, University of
Ottawa, 120 University Private

In lieu of flowers we are asking for people to donate to:

CFRC Radio @ with “Calls from Home
Hotline” in the memo

You can also send a cheque to:
CFRC Radio (with Calls from Home Hotline in the memo)
Lower Carruthers Hall, 62 Fifth Field Company Lane
Queen’s University, Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Calls From Home is a radio project that aims to bring prisoners and their
family members and friends together once a month through community radio.
Calls From Home collects voicemail messages from loved ones and broadcasts
them over the airwaves on the last Wednesday of each month from 7-8PM.
Peter regularly listened to and participated in interviews for this program.

Posted in CFRC, Events, Local Prisoners, Peter Collins | Leave a comment

Spring 2015 Newsletter now online

The Spring 2015 edition of our newsletter “Over the Wall” is now available online. We released it for International Workers Day on May 1, 2015. Visit our Newsletter page to view and download.

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Terminally Ill Prisoner-Activist Peter Collins Needs Your Support

Please consider lending your support to this campaign to get compassionate release for Peter Collins, a prisoner at Bath Institution who has been heavily involved in prison justice struggles for three decades through artwork, advocacy and peer education. Details about his work and his situation are outlined below.

If folks want to get in touch with the people who wrote this message, you can email



*Terminally Ill Prisoner-Activist Peter Collins Needs Your Support*

Peter Collins is a long-time prisoner-activist, incarcerated for the 1983 murder of a police officer in a failed robbery.

Prisoners’ rights activists in Canada will likely know of Peter’s work around Prisoners Justice Day, and his activism around various issues pertaining to the expanding prison system in this country. Peter has drawn, painted, silk screened dozens of images to commemorate PJD for the past 31 years. He has done interviews, written papers and recorded statements talking about the significance of remembering those who have died behind prison walls (and in other carceral spaces) and of continuing to fight for the rights of prisoners and their families. Activists in the United States may have seen Peter’s graphic contribution to the California prisoner hunger strikers of recent years, a drawing of a Pelican gagged with barbed wire. (The California prisoners’ hunger strikes having originated in the Pelican Bay supermax.) Peter has supported campaigns against violence against women and did several art pieces and songs about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Peter participated in the Anti-Violence Project and came up with strategies for anti-bullying campaigns in schools. He has written hundreds of articles, done countless radio interviews, presented at conferences through audio recordings, created short films and written policy papers.

Last year, Peter was diagnosed with an *aggressive form of bladder cancer*. In January of this year (2015), Peter learned that the cancer had spread throughout his body, and that he*probably does not have much time left to live* (possibly months).

As a consequence of Canada’s racist “double punishment” policy, Peter is under a deportation order to the United Kingdom, where he was born but hasn’t lived since 1967. This order would be enacted immediately upon his release from prison – i.e. he would be transferred directly to immigration detention to await deportation. For this reason the parole board has objected to his release as it has no mechanisms under its control to gradually ease him back into society. *This catch-22 situation has been used to block Peter’s parole since 2008.*

Given Peter’s cancer diagnosis, if he is not released soon, he will die in prison. Peter is not contesting his deportation to the UK. He has a strong circle of support in the UK, family members who can provide him with a home, and has been in contact with UK police officials who have conducted community assessments at his family home and do not oppose his return to the UK. There have been two Public Protection officers assigned to Peter’s case, and who are ready for his return. *What Peter requires is that the parole board grant him compassionate release, “parole by exception”. *We understand that case management at Bath Prison are supportive of Peter’s release.

*We are asking you to write a letter on Peter’s behalf*, to:

Parole Board of Canada
516 O’Connor Dr,
Kingston ON,
K7P 1N3

and cc. Cheryl Kerr:

Cheryl Kerr, Parole Officer
Bath Prison
P.O Box 1500
Bath, Ontario
K0H 1G0

Below is a list of points to raise in your letter. Please use these or any other information you feel is relevant in writing a letter. When writing, we encourage you to include any academic or professional qualifications and/or to use your organizational letterhead, as applicable. As the prison bureaucrats have Peter’s life in their hands, it is best to be polite and not provocative, as it is Peter who will pay the price if they react badly. A sample letter is provided below, which you should also feel free to cut and paste from.

Please also send a copy of any letter you send to us, at

Points to raise:

  • Peter has been rated low risk to re-offend, and has followed all directions in terms of his Correctional Plan, completing all programs for which he is eligible
  • In 2011 Peter’s Correctional Plan Progress Report noted that *“Mr. Collins is a self-starter and he has developed an excellent support network, both in Canada and in England.”*
  • In 2012, the Parole Board noted that: *“You [Peter] have not incurred any institutional charges since 1996 and you have been described as polite and respectful. You long ago completed your correctional treatment plan with positive program reports and have involved yourself in volunteer work and education to improve your skills. You are recognized as an accomplished artist and have used your talents to assist various charitable organizations. You have spent much of your time working in the harm reduction field and have been recognized for your efforts by outside organizations and professional in the field.”*
  • Peter has demonstrated his ability to function outside of prison during multiple medical and compassionate escorted temporary absences
  • While in prison, Peter has worked with the Prisoner HIV/AIDS Support and Action Network (PASAN), and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
  • In 2008 Peter was the Canadian recipient of the Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights jointly sponsored by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Human Rights Watch
  • Peter has been eligible for full parole since 2008, but because his deportable status places him in a complicated catch-22 situation
  • Peter has expressed great regret for murder of Constable David Utman and has spent his time trying to make amends for his actions
  • Peter has been in prison for over 32 years, and has remained conviction free for the past 18 years
  • In addition to the daily help and supervision Peter would receive from his family in the UK, he has secured the commitment of a dedicated Circle of Support and Accountability in England, to provide support. Members of the Circle include a former magistrate, university law faculty, a violence-prevention worker, and a teacher
  • British Authorities have no concerns about Peter returning to England to live out his final days
  • If this process is allowed to proceed too slowly, Peter will become too sick to travel
  • Section 121 of the Correctional and Conditional Release Act, which addresses parole by exception, states that parole may be granted at any time to a prisoner who is terminally ill. This applies to any prisoner, including someone serving a life or indeterminate sentence. Peter is entering the 32rd year of a Life 25 sentence.

It is important to note that British Public Protection Officers have no concerns about Peter returning to England to live out his final days. Unfortunately though, if the Parole Board leaves it too late, Peter may become too sick to be able to travel overseas.

As such, I am asking that you support Peter’s request for compassionate release.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at

Posted in Local Prisoners, Peter Collins, PJD | Leave a comment

May Day 2015 in Kingston!

May Day March and Free BBQ!
Friday, May 1st, 2015
5pm: Free BBQ in Doug Fluhrer Park
6pm: March Downtown

On May 1st, 1886, 40,000 workers in Chicago—and half a million across the United States—participated in a three-day general strike demanding an eight-hour work day. A week-long struggle resulted between protesters and police, and ultimately eight protesters were arrested, convicted without evidence, and executed. Their executions are widely regarded as some of the most overt political assassinations of radicals in North America, and May 1st has since been marked as International Workers Day in their honour. Since 2006, May Day has also been widely marked as a day to protest racist immigration policies in Canada and the United States and demand status for all. Strikes, pickets and protests take place around the world on May 1st to honour and celebrate the struggles of workers, immigrants and poor people all over.

In Kingston, we are gathering for May Day for the sixth consecutive year. Join us at 5pm for a free BBQ in Doug Fluhrer Park followed by a spirited march downtown. Come hungry and bring your neighbours, co-workers, classmates and friends!

For more information contact maydaykingston [at] riseup [dot] net

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Call for Submissions: Over the Wall Issue 3 (Spring 2015)

OVER THE WALL is a twice-annual newsletter about strikes, actions and struggles going on inside or around Ontario prisons. The purpose of this newsletter is to share information about prison issues and prison-related actions with supporters and potential supporters on the outside. Over the Wall is put out by End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC), a prison abolition group based in Kingston.

Issue 1 (Spring 2014) focuses on the federal prisoners strike against major pay cuts to prison labour, and strikes in the immigration unit in Lindsay against indefinite detention.

Issue 2 (Fall 2014) features report-backs, statements and analysis from Prisoners Justice Day 2014.

We would like to release this issue in anticipation of International Workers Day (May 1st), also known as May Day. We are looking for submissions on anything related to struggles inside or against prisons in Ontario, but here are a few suggested topics to get your wheels turning:

– Ongoing resistance to prisoner pay cuts and elimination of CORCAN incentive pay;
– How prisoners could be affected by provincial COs going on strike;
– The skyrocketing incarceration rates of Native women and Black men;
– Initial experiences in new units becoming operational now;
– The public debate about segregation and how prisoners contest its use… etc.

If you have a story or article that you’d like us to include, or if you’d like to receive the newsletter by mail, email us at epic [at] riseup [dot] net, or write to:

427 Princess St, Suite 409
Kingston ON K7L 5S9.

Please send submissions for this issue so we receive them by April 1, 2015. This is an ongoing project, so feel free to send us news and information for future issues whenever you like.


About May Day: On May 1, 1886, 40,000 workers in Chicago—and half a million across the United States—participated in a three-day general strike demanding an eight-hour work day. A week-long struggle resulted between protesters and police, and ultimately eight protesters were arrested, convicted without evidence, and executed. Their executions are widely regarded as some of the most overt political assassinations of radicals in North America, and May 1st has since been marked as International Workers Day in their honour. Since 2006, May Day has also been widely marked as a day to protest racist immigration policies in Canada and the United States and demand status for all. Strikes, pickets and protests take place around the world on May 1st to honour and celebrate the struggles of workers, immigrants, and poor people all over.

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Bill C-51 and the International Day Against Police Brutality

The following text is taken from a flyer we distributed at the rally against Bill C-51 in Kingston on March 14, 2015.


Tomorrow, March 15th, is the International Day Against Police Brutality.

Police inflict terror on our communities – they harass, humiliate, beat, and even murder us with relative impunity. They send our loved ones to jail, and they protect the rich and powerful through targeted repression against the poor, immigrants and communities of colour.

Bill C-51 will expand Canada’s policing apparatus by granting CSIS and the RCMP a wide range of new powers to combat “threats to Canada,” such as warrantless searches, preventative arrest and nearly infinite surveillance powers. But Bill C-51 is only one part of a larger, ever-expanding policing apparatus. When we limit our protest to one bill, one police agency or one exceptional power we can lose sight of the fact that terrorizing communities and crushing resistance is a primary function of any police, whether it be CSIS or the Kingston cops. The RCMP, Canada’s first police force, was created to imprison and murder Native people resisting Canada’s westward expansion. It is what police have always done and will always do, so long as they exist. This is why we are making the link to March 15th and calling for a world without police.

We can’t rely on the state to protect us from its own political police. Opposing Bill C-51 has brought us together today, but we can’t let reformers and politicians trick us into thinking a legislative amendment, improved oversight or another political party in power can really change what is fundamentally a system that protects a rich, white ruling class against the rest of us. The events in Ferguson and across North America this past year have reminded us that it is possible to fight back against the police, and we are inspired by those pushing cops out of their communities (rather than lobbying to buy them body cameras). We can imagine a world without police, prisons or borders. Let’s start here and now.

Posted in Police, Repression | Leave a comment

Full Article: A Story For Prisoners Justice Day

An excerpt of this story was originally published in our newsletter Over the Wall, Issue 2 (Fall 2014).

So today, Prisoners’ Justice Day 2014, I think back to the first Prisoners’ Justice Day I ever participated in, in 1980, and can’t help but think of the old saying: “the more things change, the more things stay the same.” I like this saying because it is a simplification of a complicated truth.

I want to tell you a little story. I spent some months in the maximum security unit of Ontario’s federal prison for women, Grand Valley Institution for Women. We lived in groups of 5, in pods which were completely self-contained units we could not leave except for very short periods of time. During that time, I had a job cleaning a room outside our pod, but could never do it because apparently there was never enough staff to escort me to this room just down the hall. So I volunteered to clean our pod everyday since there was no one else to do it at that time. One day I was cleaning, and a large heavy set woman, parked herself on a nearby chair and started telling me what to do. “Don’t sweep so close to my cell, I don’t want dirt going in under the door, don’t use so much detergent, can’t you go faster.”

Continue reading

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Full Article: Address to Market Square

An excerpt of this statement was originally published in our newsletter Over the Wall, Issue 2 (Fall 2014). You can also listen to the original audio recording here.

It’s safe to assume that other people have given a lengthy and detailed account account about what Prisoner Justice Day is and how and why it’s observed. It has been forty years since the untimely death of an inmate due to systemic negligence resulted in other prisoners taking action. But even after four decades it is uncertain that much has changed and we remain the the wildernesses outside of mainstream society. The high profile death of Ashley Smith as corrections officers watched her die under orders not to intercede shows that it is not a simple matter of making sure that emergency call buttons function properly or that policy and procedure exist to ensure fair treatment and a minimum of violence used against the incarcerated population.

What Ashley’s death shows us is that it is attitude and perception that must change.

Continue reading

Posted in CFRC, Frontenac Institution, Local Prisoners, Newsletter, PJD | Leave a comment