Ottawa vigil being held evening of August 10th, 2021 on Prisoners’ Justice Day to commemorate deaths in custody and demand justice for human rights abuses behind bars
10 August 2021 (Algonquin Territory | Ottawa, Ontario) – Former prisoners, their loved ones, and community members will be speaking at a Prisoners’ Justice Day (PJD) vigil taking place tonight starting at 7:00 pm at Major’s Hill Park (on the lawn across from the National Gallery of Canada). Prisoners’ Justice Day (PJD) emerged as a prisoner-initiated day of non-violent resistance to penal repression in commemoration of the death of Eddie Nalon who was left to die alone in the segregation unit of Millhaven maximum-security penitentiary on August 10th, 1974. PJD was first observed in 1975, and in 1976 the prisoners of Millhaven issued a communication calling for one-day hunger strikes in opposition to the use of solitary confinement and in support of prisoners’ rights in memory of Eddie Nalon and Robert Landers, who also died alone in solitary confinement.
Since then, PJD has become an internationally-recognized day of solidarity and action, both inside and outside prison walls, to commemorate deaths in custody and to demand justice for the human rights atrocities that states and their officials authorize and engage in. At the first PJD, people incarcerated at Millhaven produced a list of demands in order to reduce the harms they experienced behind bars. As part of PJD events taking place from coast-to-coast, Ottawa vigil organizers will be sharing demands of human beings imprisoned at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC), who continue to demand change and a society which prioritizes compassion over caging people.
Following a land acknowledgement and brief introduction to PJD, people who have been incarcerated, family and community members will speak, while statements from currently incarcerated people will be read by organizers. Together participants will reflect upon the many human rights issues plaguing provincial jails and prisons, as well as federal penitentiaries and immigration detention centres.
Concerned members of the community are encouraged to participate in the vigil. Journalists are also welcome to attend.
For comments or to arrange for media interviews with former prisoners, relatives of current prisoners, and their supporters contact:
Ottawa Prisoners’ Justice Day Committee
Criminalization and Punishment Education Project
Millhaven Lifers’ Liaison Group
Mothers Offering Mutual Support
Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa