Bar None recently expanded the land acknowledgment on our About page to state that we are “based out of Treaty 1 territory, on the land of Anishinaabeg (Ojibway), Ininew (Cree), Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation” and that “we view our commitment to prison abolition as related to the dismantling of the ongoing occupation and theft of these lands.”
The new acknowledgment strives to recognize the many nations and peoples who have used the lands and waterways now known as Winnipeg, Manitoba, over centuries and millennia. Indigenous knowledge, resistance and self-determination not only make it possible for all of us to share this land today, but also mark the path forward out of colonization and dispossession.
Prisons and policing on these lands are a product of the colonial project that is Canada. Canada’s first prison, Kingston Penitentiary, was established by settlers more than 3 decades before Canada even existed. It was designed to subject each of its prisoners to an environment “so irksome and so terrible that during his afterlife he may dread nothing so much as a repetition of the punishment.” Ensuring that prisoners experience terror and dread until and beyond the grave: this was the intended treatment for all those who did not conform to English law, mandated by the Consolidation Acts following Confederation in 1867.
Imprisonment has always gone against the spirit of non-interference, consent, and reciprocity that Treaty 1 is all about. Anishinaabe negotiators insisted on this when they refused to discuss Treaty 1 until Canada released people imprisoned at Lower Fort Garry. Two years later, Canada created a mounted police force to impose colonial order across the West, through violent suppression of Indigenous resistance, sovereignty and laws.
Alongside the genocidal projects of Residential Schools and the Sixties Scoop, policing and legal systems have been complicit in the disappearance and murder of Indigenous women and girls. Yet Indigenous persons are also imprisoned in Canada at rates seven times that of the general population, and those rates are increasing. Manitoba, where ¾ of prisoners are Indigenous, has the second-highest rate of incarceration of Indigenous peoples among all provinces. There is absolutely no carceral solution to this gross travesty of justice. No prisons on stolen land!
An inquest conducted by Judge Heather Pullan into the 2016 death of 26-year-old Errol Greene in the Winnipeg Remand Centre has concluded that the facility’s medical unit is lacking oversight and requires a third-party review to ensure that medical operations are up to standard.
Greene died on May 1, 2016, after having two epileptic seizures and not being given his anti-seizure medication by staff at the Winnipeg Remand Centre. An inquest into his death was called December 6, 2016, following pressure from his family and community of supporters. Twenty-three days of hearings began in late 2017 and concluded in October 2018, with one lawyer representing Greene’s family and six government lawyers participating. Rochelle Pranteau, Errol’s spouse, along with her network of community supporters, were present in Court for nearly the entire inquest.
Judge Pullan released her inquest report on June 11, 2019, making several important findings, including that:
As a result of finding multiple issues and significant challenges with the medical unit at the Winnipeg Remand Centre, Judge Pullan recommended “an independent, third party agency with no relationship with Manitoba corrections, with a mandate to recommend change in all operational and clinical areas, to perform a full and comprehensive review of the medical unit at the Winnipeg Remand Centre.” This was part of one of the recommendations proposed by Rochelle Pranteau.
This recommendation and the evidence supporting it (see pg. 160, para. 708) is crucial: it shows that the judge had serious concerns about multiple critical issues in health care delivery at the Remand Centre. These issues included: physician availability and accessibility; deficiencies in nurse training; nurse recruitment and retention; nurse staffing levels; quality of medical charts; nurse access to patient information; medical staff performance reviews; and bed usage in the medical unit.
Judge Pullan’s role was to determine the circumstances of Errol’s death and make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future. However, the inquest she conducted had no real power to hold individuals responsible, and Manitoba Corrections is not obligated to take action upon any of her recommendations. It has been difficult for Errol’s family to place faith in a process designed by the very system that failed him and ultimately cost him his life. Attempts to consider systemic racism as a factor in Errol’s death were repeatedly objected to and blocked from consideration—although it is hard to imagine that it played no part. Still, this process was the only way for Errol’s family to seek even this limited form of accountability and demand answers from the Winnipeg Remand Centre.
Judge Pullan made a total of 11 recommendations, all of which address the issues raised by Rochelle Pranteau at the Inquest—issues around training, ensuring that epilepsy experts are involved in policy-making and training, ensuring inmates can be properly identified, and ensuring better access to medical treatment.
The Judge strongly criticized Manitoba corrections for not having external accreditation for the medical unit at the Winnipeg Remand Centre. She explained:
“The medical unit at the Winnipeg Remand Centre is not accredited. It is not clear from the evidence why this is the case. If the focus on healthcare delivery in an institution is on quality and excellence, surely being held to an objective standard, assessed externally, is the best means by which excellence can be achieved and maintained.” (pg. 156, para. 687)
The Judge also criticized Manitoba’s claim that accreditation would be too expensive and labour-intensive. She explained:
“I appreciate that bringing the medical unit at the Winnipeg Remand Centre up to accreditation standard may be resource and labour intensive. That would only be the case should the current operations of the medical unit at the Winnipeg Remand Centre fall far short of standards required. If that is the case, it enhances the need for accreditation.” (pg. 157-58, para. 694, emphasis added)
Pranteau would like to receive an apology and recognition of their family’s deep loss. She hopes that Manitoba Corrections takes these recommendations seriously and that no one else needlessly suffers this way – “I never want another family to go through what we had to”. With the Inquest now concluded, Pranteau will be proceeding with a civil claim for damages against Manitoba Corrections on behalf of herself and her family.
It’s time to rock out in Stonewall, Manitoba! Sign up to give a ride to Stony Mountain for the Bar None prison visiting ride share and start planning your Stonewall getaway. With the Summit Café (RIP) in Stony Mountain shutting down, Bar None drivers are becoming better acquainted with Stonewall and realizing that it has quite a bit to offer the abolitionist day tripper. Here’s a little guide to spark your imagination.
A six-minute drive north from Stony Mountain, Stonewall greets visitors with a shrine to its most beloved former resident, the oddball painter William Kurelek. A steel and limestone sculpture inspired by Kurelek’s “Manitoba Party” stands at the crossroads of highways 7 and 67 and offers a series of reproductions of Kurelek’s prairie paintings. The tribute is no bluff: Stonewall is serious about art. The delightful South Interlake Regional Library is a perfect, sunny, comfy literary refuge to dive into your recent purchases from the Bar None book sale. (The library’s own ongoing book sale is not to be missed, either). Flicks Cinema is still going strong on First Street, showcasing the latest Hollywood goof-ups. Architecture is also in abundance in Stonewall, where a number of unusual old citadels remain. Many were produced – as Stony Mountain Penitentiary was – from the town’s original raison d’etre, the famous Stonewall Quarry.
Food and Coffee
When it comes time to grab a Bar None-subsidized bite, the chefs of Stonewall do not disappoint. The Kiln Drive-In (named for the kilns that tower over the town from the quarry), famous for burgers and ice cream, is the town’s summertime hub. Sig’s Grill and Coffee Shop is the classic diner of your dreams, Red Star Chinese Cuisine lets you mix and match from its long list of specialties, Appy Place Lounge is the place for wings, and Chicken Chef is a local favourite for good reasons (not least the two-piece chicken dinner and the clubhouse sandwich). If you’d rather just hang out, check out McLeod House Tearoom, Pizza Hotline, or Tim Hortons.
The biggest attraction in Stonewall is the grounds of the abandoned quarry and the old kiln towers. A gleaming new museum offers insights into the ancient geological foundations of the region and the dynamics of settler occupation and industrial capitalism that fuelled limestone production and construction there. A network of hiking trails spans out from the park – grab a map at the museum. The park boasts Manitoba’s first man-made lake, Kinsmen Lake, which hosts throngs of beachgoers every summer. Oak Hammock Marsh, another pleasant nature preserve, is just a 15-minute drive away. For indoor fun, play some laser tag at the Laser Jungle or bowl a few games at Quarry Bowling Lanes.
Shop ’til you drop
Stonewall offers a bevy of enchanting independent shops from The Grande Bazaar, to Something Beautiful, to Meta Cannibis Supply Co, and many more. Make sure to check out the magnificent plant life on display at Stonewall Florist and TJ’s Garden Centre on Main Street. If there’s something you’ve been meaning to pick up in the city, perhaps you can find it here at the Family Foods, Red Apple, or Deals for Dollars.
*Note: We changed the name of this post because of the hurtfully light-hearted way it invoked the Stonewall Riots of 1969. We are always interested in feedback from comrades and we want to thank everyone who shared their thoughts with us about this.
We are excited to host a visit from Ann Hansen, activist and author of two books: Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerilla (2001), and Taking the Rap: Women Doing Time for Society’s Crimes (2018).
Hansen‘s first book documents her involvement in the guerilla campaigns of Direct Action (also known as the Squamish Five) during the 1980s. Hansen has just published a second book about her years in prison and parole from 1984 until the present. Taking the Rap: Women Doing Time for Society’s Crimes is a series of short stories about prison life based on Ann’s time in the Prison for Women from 1984-1991 and in the Grand Valley Institution for Women between 2006-2012.
Ann will be speaking about these experiences and discussing with the audience the role of prisons in Canada.
We hope you will join us at one or both of her speaking engagements:
On-site child minding available (please RSVP to confirm, if possible)
Our first ever newsletter was published this past fall. Producing a newsletter has been a dream of the Bar None prison rideshare since we began over three years ago, and we are so excited that we’re finally making it happen. Our goal is to put out a newsletter four times a year: fall, winter, spring and summer. Through this newsletter we hope to let people already involved in the rideshare as well as potential collaborators, know what Bar None has been up to and invite input on our work. We also hope to share news of some of the anti-prison struggles we hear about from around the world.
BarNone met with youth at Art City to discuss our rideshare project, how prisons can be harmful and make some great abolitionist art. Check out these posters they made!
Join us for a night of good sounds in support of the Justice for Errol Group’s Fundraiser for legal fees associated with the inquest into Errol Greene’s death.
When: August 18th 8pm-10:30pm. Doors at 7pm.
Where: aceartinc. – 2-290 McDermot Ave, Winnipeg
$8-$15 Pay What You Can — Performers:
Amazing Poster by Kelly Grub
When: May 1, 2017 @4:30pm – Where: 141 Kennedy St (Remand Centre)
May 1, 2017 marks one year since the death of Errol Greene in the Winnipeg Remand Centre. As the inquest and civil suit go on, we are gathering to remember the life of Errol Greene: father, husband, son, brother and friend.
We have not forgotten him, and neither will the Remand.
We are meeting at 141 Kennedy St, across from the Remand Centre; gathering at 4:30, speakers at 5:00.