An echo…

Dec. 16, 2021 

CBC News – Alicia Bridges
Australia looks to Canada as it launches inquiry into missing and murdered First Nations women – There are hard lessons to learn from Canada’s own inquiry, advocates say

 The themes and comments of two Australian Indigenous Senators who pushed for the inquiry ring a familiar bell here in Canada and the Canadian experience appears to be helpful to Australia’s inquiry as well.  “The motion to launch the inquiry was brought by Sen. Dorinda Cox and Sen. Lidia Thorpe — both Indigenous women who are senators for the Australian Greens political party. Cox and Thorpe are also both family members of murdered Indigenous women… These women have never had justice, Thorpe told the Senate when the motion was tabled on Nov. 25… No justice, because they weren’t important enough for investigations to happen around those murders.”   The government has pledged $1 billion to finance the revisions required in the treatment of Indigenous people.

 Globe and Mail – Kristy Kirkup
Ottawa earmarks $40-billion for First Nations child welfare, long-term reform in fall economic statement

By putting the $40 million up front, the federal government is hoping to settle out of court both the lawsuits and the human rights directives to pay $40,000 to each claimant under the Indigenous child welfare failures.  “The $40-billion figure emerged from the talks, and is a public sign that negotiations are proceeding. But all sides have been careful to note that there is still no final settlement. The discussions are being facilitated by Murray Sinclair, the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who left the Senate in January. The parties to the talks include the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and representatives of class action lawsuits related to Indigenous child welfare.”

Toronto Star – Stephanie Levitz
Trudeau government committing $1 billion to help provinces — and maybe cities — get rid of handguns – The Liberal government will move early in the new year to set up a $1 billion fund to help provinces ban handguns, the Star has learned.

The announcement from the federal government speaks to the puzzle about why handguns were pretty well off the table in previous gun control legislation but the resistance came from both provincial and municipal governments as well, and, even now, from Conservatives like deputy leader Candice Bergen.  Both Montreal and Toronto have experienced significant shootings this past year, as seen in a House of Commons study on gun crime.   “The Liberals have long promised to find a way to ban handguns, first trying to work directly with municipalities to set up local bans and then introducing a bill to that effect in the last Parliament. The bill died when the election was called in August.”  The Liberals have announced a $1 billion fund to help.

Global News (MB) – Elisha Dacey
Manitoba appeals court gives harsher sentence in ‘precedent-setting’ sex trafficking case

A Manitoba Appeals Court has overturned a lower court sentence of 15 months in favour of a five year sentence in the case of convicted sex trafficker Scott Christopher Alcorn.  The panel of three judges ruled in the abuse of a 16 year old girl:  “It is necessary to turn a new page from the past and embark on a fresh sentencing approach which focusses on greater offender accountability through increased sentences,” the trio say in their decision, dated Dec. 9.”  Advocates say the crime of trafficking is highly profitable and aggressively pursued, especially among Indigenous young girls.  Related article: / The Conversation (Queen’s) Ryan Conrad, Emma McKenna   Sex, taxes and COVID-19: How sex workers navigated pandemic relief efforts

The Marshall Project (US) – Andrew Cohen
The Man Who Spent 35 Years in Prison without a Trial – The Jerry Hartfield case is an extraordinary tale of justice delayed and denied.

This one of those extraordinary cases that illustrate most forcefully the need for constant review, especially involving long term persons in prison.  The incident would suggest that there have been multiple failures for those 35 years and that the line of accountability for this blatant injustice is long and winding.  “He was supposed to get a new trial in 1980 after an appeals court reversed his conviction and death sentence because of a flaw during jury selection. Instead, after a series of misunderstandings and miscommunications by lawyers, judges, and jailers — who all thought Hartfield was someone else’s problem — he never got that second day in court. If it were not for a fellow prisoner and the public defenders who eventually discovered the mistake, the 61-year-old intellectually disabled man likely would have died alone in his cell, his story as lost as he was.”  Equally long and winding is the question of what Mr. Hartfield is owed for this egregious incident and who is to be held accountable.

Filter Magazine (US) – Michael J. Moore
“Good Behavior” Gets Us Early Release—If Corrections Decides to Honor It

The link is a good referent point for the difficulty with housing for persons on parole.  Approval of the housing by Corrections can in fact often delay release, even beyond the release date.

 Writings from The Poetry Workshop at the Colorado Women’s Correctional Facility – Susan Zalatan   discovered in PRM (C.Leonard) #KeepThemHome @PrisonReformMvt

Those in prison…  

We want them to be responsible
So we take away all responsibility
We want them to be positive and constructive
So we degrade them and make them useless
We want them to be trustworthy
So we put them where there is no trust
We want them to be nonviolent
So we surround them with violence
We want them to be kind and loving
So we subject them to hatred and cruelty
We want them to quit being the “tough guy”
So we put them where only the “tough guy” survives
We want them to quit exploiting us
So we cage them where they exploit each other
We want them to take control of their lives
So we make them dependent on us
We want them to be a part of our community
So we separate them from our community
You want us to have self-worth
So you destroy our self-worth
And call it “corrections.” (Cf p. 2)   There are other poems as well written by incarcerated women also at the link, Captured Words, Free Thoughts. 

 In memory of and in tribute to US Author and Black feminist activist bell hooks (1952 – 2021): bell hooks is unavailable

“To be loving is to be open to grief, to be touched by sorrow, even sorrow that is unending. we need not contain grief when we use it as a means to intensify our love for the dead and dying, for those who remain alive.”

“It is essential to our struggle for self-determination that we speak of love. For love is the necessary foundation enabling us to survive the wars, the hardships, the sickness, and the dying with our spirits intact.  It is love that allows us to survive whole.”