Category Archives: Misc

The Zibi Development and Indigenous Consent: Contestation and Protest

By Joey Clavette

This was originally published in The Leveller

On June 17 a group of over 300 protesters marched from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill. The protest was organized by Algonquin Elders under the slogan “It Is Sacred,” referring to the Albert and Chaudière Islands, which have been sold to Windmill and Dream Unlimited Corp. in order to build the Zibi development project consisting of condominiums and commercial spaces.

Picket signs read: “Trudeau aidez nous (Trudeau help us),” “Nothing is Greener than Trees,” “Solidarity with Algonquins,” and “Amazon tribes support Grandfather William Commanda’s Spiritual Centre. Declare the centre sacred now.”

The project has been shrouded in controversy since the city rezoned the land and sold it to Windmill on Oct. 8, 2014. The controversy focuses on the claim that the Chaudière Islands are sacred Algonquin territory that have been sold to a private company without the consent of the Algonquin people.

Many of the protesters were in support of Grandfather William Commanda’s vision for the Chaudière site as an alternative to the Windmill developments. Commanda was an elder from Kitigan Zibi who passed away in 2011 yet remains an important figure. His vision was for a peace and healing centre to be built on Victoria Island and for Albert and Chaudière to be reverted to park land.

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…Until One Has Been Inside Its Jails: My experiences at the Millhaven Institution

By Joey Clavette

This post is based on an article I had published in the Ottawa Leveller

 


An armed guard tower is situated by the main entrance to Millhaven. The entrance is used for visitors and staff alike and features airport type xray machines and metal detectors. Visitors are asked to leave all personal belongings in a locker before entering the grounds. Millhaven Institution is a federal maximum security facility that opened in 1971 and it was originally intended to replace Kingston Penitentiary. In 1990, it was assigned a secondary role as a reception center for all maximum security prisoners sentenced to two years or more in the Ontario region. All new inmates will go through Millhaven to be assessed for a period of 6-7 months before being transferred to other facilities. There are 130-150 inmates that are permanently housed there and about 330 "temporary" inmates. CHRIS SO / THE TORONTO STAR

 

Over the past summer I made friends with my social movements professor. She’s an avid prison abolitionist meaning that she believes prisons ought to be abolished altogether. This past February I wrote an article in The Leveller titled Punishment at What Cost? in which I alluded to this idea that prisons actually do more harm than good.

In the context of an interview about the spiking rates of imprisonment in Canada coupled with a declining crime rate, I asked a local NGO worker and PhD student, Laura McKendy, whether punitive justice is worthwhile and she replied that, “harsh conditions of confinement, along with virtually no programming, literally increases recidivism…If you just want to hurt people then you can embrace punishment but if you actually want a safe society, it only makes things worse.”

Prison is punishment. In a sense, imprisonment is an act of violence. If I were to abduct someone and lock them in my house, that would be kidnapping. Now, obviously prison has a different end. It finds justification through an assumed capacity to suppress possible societal dangers. However, this does not detract from the fact that forcibly confining someone is an act of violence, an act of ‘socially acceptable’ and federally enforced revenge. We ought to look for viable alternatives which better foster societal safety.

With that said let me talk about the trip I took to Millhaven Penitentiary on February 10th to visit a group of lifers. In Canada a life sentence is 10 -25 years. I took this trip with my professor and three other individuals as part of OPIRG’s Millhaven Lifer’s Liaison Group.

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