News / Ottawa

Protesters show out for prisoners' rights

Thursday was Prisoners Justice Day, which began in 1975 in response to an inmate's death at an Ontario penitentiary.

About 50 people march from the Ottawa courthouse on Elgin Street to the Department of Justice building on Wellington Street to show solidarity with people in prisons.

Jesse Cnockaert / For Metro

About 50 people march from the Ottawa courthouse on Elgin Street to the Department of Justice building on Wellington Street to show solidarity with people in prisons.

Protesters marched down Elgin Street yesterday, both to show solidarity with people in Canadian prisons, and to raise awareness about what they consider to be flaws in the criminal justice system.

Thursday was Prisoners Justice Day, and a crowd of more than 50 people, made up of activists and some former prisoners, held high their signs as they chanted and marched from the front of the Ottawa Provincial Court House to the nearby Department of Justice building on Wellington.

PJD has been an annual event since 1975, originally sparked by the death of prisoner Edward Nalon at the maximum security Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ont. Nalon died by suicide while in solitary confinement.

Organizers of the Ottawa PJD March hope to raise awareness of the issues they think are still present in Canada’s prison system, such as systemic racism and insufficient resources for prisoners with mental health issues or helping with reintegration after release.

“More than 40 years later, people are still dying in prison, people are still dying in solitary confinement. That’s why we’re still here,” said Justin Pichě, an organizer of the Ottawa March and an associate professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa. “PJD has become an internationally recognized day of solidarity and action both inside and outside prison walls.”

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