Laval, 1 January 2018 – On the evening of December 31st, 100 people celebrated New Year's Eve outside of prison facilities in Laval. The annual celebration saw participants arrive with whistles, drums, banners, and fireworks while music played and people danced through the -25 degree weather.
“We’ve organized this event for several years now. We come here to help break the isolation of those being held in these prisons,” said organizer Rachel Rosenberg. “We’re here to send a message of solidarity and wish them a happy new year.”
The demonstration visited Leclerc Provincial Prison, both institutions of the Federal Training Centre (minimum security and multi-level security), as well as the Immigration Detention Centre. Fireworks were set off at multiple locations and chants were made against the prison and immigration detention systems, highlighting their roles in the maintenance of white supremacy and structural racism.
“Indigenous peoples, people of colour and poor people are targets of multiple systems that lead to imprisonment,” said Rosenberg. “These are people who we love and care about and locking them away like this is destroying our communities.”
According to the Correctional Investigator of Canada, Indigenous peoples now account for over 26% of all federal prisoners while making up just 5% of the total population. “We see prisons as a cornerstone of the systems that oppress us and threaten our communities,” Rosenberg continued.
The organizers also expressed opposition to the federal government's plan to build a new Immigration Detention Centre in Laval. “The new centre is part of an effort to expand the CBSA's capacity to imprison and deport migrants,” said Rosenberg. “We want to see a world without borders, where everyone has access to the things they need to live with dignity. Imprisoning migrants, denying them a place to stay, and deporting them to situations of extreme danger are
things we directly oppose. A truly happy new year would be one without prisons, borders, and the world that needs them!”
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