For Abolition, For a Better World: Prison Justice Day 2018

By Jeff Shantz

August 10 marks Prison Justice Day (PJD), a day of solidarity among and with prisoners and a day to remember those who have died in prison. On PJD 2018 in Vancouver, about 50 or so people gathered at the Claire Culhane bench in Trout Lake Park. This is the 44th year of PJD. Speakers noted the context of growing authoritarianism, repression, austerity, and neo-colonialism (and extreme energy extraction) driving the prison industrial complex today.

Repressing Prison Justice Day, Repressing Prisoners

Several speakers spoke to the repression inside and the clampdown on PJD within the prisons. PJD organizer Meenakshi Mannoe told the crowd that people cannot fast or refuse to work in solidarity with PJD. One former prisoner, now with Elizabeth Fry, spoke to the repression of PJD by guards and attempts to stamp out any show of solidarity. The authorities recognize the strength in numbers and try to prevent it. Joanne Wendy Bariteau, a lifer who has been out for eight years, said that this is the first time she has been able to openly celebrate Prison Justice Day in eight years because the authorities would not let her celebrate in prison. She concluded by saying people “need to know how they treat us.” In her powerful words, she said that people suffer little deaths inside all the time.

People are also being targeted for work they have done outside to support prisoners. They now need the same security clearance level as arms manufacturers (which says plenty about “crime” and criminalization under capitalism). Reliability Status Screening is required to gain access. This also includes, incredibly, credit checks (so a class-based targeting) and information is given to the RCMP and CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Services). Some have allowed their security clearance to lapse in protest of these regressive and repressive policies.

The Prison Industrial Complex and State Capitalism

Joint Effort, which grew from the BC Federation of Women, has been a force of continuity behind PJD. Speaker Cecily Nicholson reported that advocates have a real struggle to access prison now. Nicholson properly positioned the prison system as an outcrop of the genocidal policies of the capitalist state, including the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism. This continues as Indigenous women are over-classified in maximum security placements, solitary, etc. There is a necessary disruption to flows of capital in opposing prisons and the systems that require them.

Omar from Sanctuary Health extended this analysis of colonialism and imperialism. The criminal justice system is intimately connected to border systems. There is the detention and deportation of people even after their prison sentence ahs been served. In discussing projects for sanctuary health Omar noted that the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) will call border services, CBSA, when people try to access services, leaving migrants over policed and under protected (not protected). Omar provided an example of a Latin American man accosted by VPD on Commercial Drive and referred to CBSA, on no grounds whatsoever. 

Lenee Son spoke on the policing aspects of the prison industrial complex, with specific reference to Surrey. Son noted that austerity times have meant cuts to all programming except policing. In Surrey, police are openly and heavily weaponized. Their presence is extensive, open violence against working class communities. This relates to the class crisis imposed by austerity policies. The Strip, self-housing in tents by homeless people on 135A Street, was an example of police violence as an instrument of class crisis. In addition the gang panic in Surrey plays on fears of racialized and migrant parents about the place of their children in society and their futures. Parents are anxious about their children’s opportunities in a time of declining living standards and downward mobility among the working class.

Eddie, with West Coast Prison Justice Society, a lifer who has been out since 1989, poignantly stated that he knew many of the people listed on the banner memorializing people who died inside. He spoke to the awful medical conditions inside. People are not given proper or needed services. Staff accuse people of doing drugs rather than being desperately ill. Prison deteriorates mental health but supports are not available for people. People are moved to segregation instead of being provided with help. Much of the violence inside is a result of the daily conditions inside. Eddie concluded by telling the assembly that people are still restricted when out. He needs to get a travel warrant from parole simply to travel to Surrey.


We must not be misled or confused. As Mannoe concluded, prisons are not being misused. They are doing what they are designed and implemented to do. The fight for abolition of the penal system, of cops and prisons, is the fight for an alternative social world.

And prisoners are taking a lead. August 21, 2018 is the start of the national Prison Strike in the US. PJD 2018 in Vancouver rightly concluded with a reading of the strikers’ ten demands. They are:

1.    Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.

2.   An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.

3.   The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.

4.    The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.

5.    An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.

6.    An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.

7.    No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.

8.    State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.

9.    Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.

10.    The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

“There is No Natural Death in Prison”: Prison Justice Day Film Night. August 7, 2018. Spartacus Books. Vancouver

August 10, 2018

By Jeff Shantz

Prison Justice Day (PJD) is held every August 10. This year is the 44th year of PJD. On August 7, 2018 I attended the Prison Justice Day support event and showing of the film “Visions of Abolition: From Critical Resistance to a New Way of Life” at Spartacus Books in Vancouver.

The film connects abolition of prisons with the abolition of slavery through the perspectives of Angela Y Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and others. Abolitionists are continuing the work that was not completed with the abolition of slavery. The movie documents the transformation of the slave relationship into the prison system in the United States. Racist violence has been central to the capitalist mode of production in the US.

The war on poverty and the war on drugs are both wars on poor people. Neoliberal dismantling of social welfare systems from the Reagan regime on has disorganized working class communities and created crises within the working class. This has ratcheted up despair, desperation, etc. The response has been increases in the repressive apparatus: police, courts, prisons.

For Abolition: A Discussion

Event organizer, Meenakshi Mannoe of the Vancouver Prison Justice Day Organizing Committee and Stark Raven radio, spoke to the gender violence that is part of the penal system. This includes enforced heterosexism and gender binary. There is a need also to recognize harms to trans women and Indigenous women in the Canadian context.

The prison system is also a continuation of colonization. One attendee who identified as a prisoner noted the four or five recorded deaths in prison of Indigenous women each year, which receive little public attention.  The late Peter Collins, a key Prison Justice Day organizer as a prisoner, stated: “There is no natural death in prison.”

One participant, a self described lifer who was inside for eight years and only got out this year, reported that a Survivor, Abuse, Trauma councillor was going to be cut as a pure cost cutting measure. Prisoners had to undertake a grievance to stop it.

Those who identified as prisoners noted that the system does not want people you to talk about the causes that led to your crime, your social history, abuse, violence, self defense against abusers, etc. They only want to hear why you committed the crime as if it was simply some type of personal choice.

It was suggested that many advocacy groups are coopted by the state and/or depend on the government for funding and status. Programming is carried out within the logic of the prison, even on the outside. So some groups do not advocate strongly because of funding concerns.

There was an important recognition of the fact that most prisoners in Canada are in for low level, less harmful, or even harmless activities (personal consumption practices, survival strategies, nuisances, administrative issues). It was suggested that there could be some convergence between efforts to decriminalize drugs and the push for equal health care for all (which prisoners do not have access to). People inside are denied proper harm reduction supplies.

It was also noted that health care in provincial institutions has been privatized (Century Health, for example). So there are aspects of privatization of prisons in Canada.

Speakers in attendance reported that Prison Justice Day is being restricted inside in a context of a wave of repression over the last few years. PJD shirts are not allowed and work stoppages, a key component of PJD, are punished. 


On the whole this was an enriching and important event. It raised a strong abolitionist perspective and offered real world examples of work being done to address the harms of prisons and to think about alternatives to statist punitive approaches.

Prison Justice Day activities in Vancouver take place August 10 from 6 to 8 PM at the Clare Culhane bench in Trout Lake Park near Commercial Drive. See:

For one brief history of Prison Justice Day read: “Prisoner’s Justice Day: A Retrospective Montage”  by pj lilley. Freely available at:



“Addressing Crime in Surrey.” Beyond Police and Panics? Newton Library - July 22, 2018

People First Surrey - Addressing Crime in Surrey

By Jeff Shantz

There is a raging gang panic in Surrey. This is being fuelled by media, business associations, and police as means to increase funding for policing (and to further gentrification and surveillance for developers and business). Public discourse suggests that shootings and gang killings are increasing in Surrey and that gangs run the city.

None of this is true. A look at actual numbers shows that shootings in Surrey have declined each of the last few years, and, despite this year’s panic, are on pace to decline again. In 2015 there were 88 shootings in Surrey. In 2016 there were 61 shootings. In 2017 there were 59 shootings. Surrey is on pace for 52 shootings in 2018. For perspective, of specifically gang-related shootings in British Columbia in 2017 there were 6 in Surrey. That is the same number as in Richmond, which is much smaller in population. It is fewer than the 7 in Abbotsford, which is also much smaller in population. For comparison there were 5 gang-related shootings in Langley and Vancouver; 4 in Kelowna; 3 in Prince George; 2 in Williams Lake; and 1 in Port Renfrew (with a population of 144).

Yet, the gang panic, and related calls for more police and surveillance and criminalization of youth, persists. Ahead of the 2018 municipal elections crime has once again been made top of minds for Surrey residents, as it was last election.

The “Addressing Crime in Surrey” Panel

On July 22, 2018, a panel discussion “Addressing Crime in Surrey” was hosted by People First Surrey, a party running candidates in the fall election. Participants included: Stuart Parker (Proudly Surrey); Dennis Watson (Green Justice); Lenee Son (Alliance Against Displacement); and Rajesh Jayaprakash (People First Surrey). Each speaker gave a three minute presentation followed by multiple rounds of questions from the moderator and audience members. The discussion ran the gamut from calls for law and order, “broken windows,” policing to abolition of police.

Three of the panelists pushed for various forms of criminalization and policing. Parker is pushing strongest for a local municipal force to replace the RCMP. He did point out that Ontario and Quebec have police armies because of their militarized provincial police forces (but did not acknowledge the military nature of the RCMP). Jayaprakash and People First Surrey are pushing a plan of mass surveillance through video cameras throughout Surrey, recording virtually everything all the time. They want to cut funding for the light rapid train in Surrey to fund a municipal force. Green Justice offers only a rehash of failed and discredited broken windows policing and more cops on organized crime (not corporate crime though) and regional units (but did launch into a strangely disconnected rant against...communism!?!).

Only Lenee Son of the Alliance Against Displacement put focus on the social and economic structures of inequality and violence that give rise to gangs. Son pointed out that it is not a debate about the RCMP or a municipal force, as is shaping up to be the election framing, but rather is about getting rid of cops (and their bloated budgets) entirely and addressing root causes of violence and social harm. We need to remove a key source of repression and alienation based on white supremacy, exploitation, racism, class stratification, and colonialism. Namely the police as an institution of structural violence and inequality.

Son points out that the Surrey Gang Task Force report is a failure. It identifies risk factors but does little to nothing to address the social causes of them. The outlined activities proposed do not address the material needs of young people to really deal with risk factors. Punishment and education do not address fears about poverty, material insecurity, declining living standards, and declining opportunities. Programs like Bar Watch, much touted in the task force report, concentrates decisions in the hands of police. There are no appeals for people negatively impacted. The result will simply be further exclusion and marginalization of racialized youth. It is a program of profiling.

One audience member pointed out that the RCMP regularly inflict violence on people and communities in Surrey. In addition to physical violence there is racial profiling of youth of color. Son reported that when she worked at the Newton Wave Pool she heard police openly call East African kids “pirates.” She called for answers on police accountability. None of the three party representatives could offer any.

Another audience member said that the AAD perspective resonated most with him. He was incarcerated before going on to do a doctorate in education at Simon Fraser University. He said that he senses the need to go further and deeper in assessments of justice but class and colonialism restrict us (we don not even properly identify police as agents of class inequality and colonial genocide in Canada).

A point was raised about drug decriminalization and the reduction of police funding and resources from drug criminalization. The panel (except for Watson) spoke of the need to end the war on drugs. It was noted that at the municipal level policing decisions could be made from the mayo’s office to lessen or end enforcement. It was also stressed that demand is not going to end if police take out a so-called kingpin, as some law and order advocates claim. That only creates a vacuum.

Lenee Son pointed out that it is a time of government austerity except for funding for cops as police budgets continue to grow even as crime rates decline. In 2015 Surrey got 100 new RCMP officers. In 2017 the city got another 12. RCMP already take up more than 20 percent of the City budget, more than any other single drain.

Getting to the Root of the Matter

What are the real sources of crime fears that allow panics to flourish? Concerns over stability, security, safety. The moral panic around gang violence in Surrey points to deeper anxieties. Parents are then blamed instead of being supported. We really need to address racism, poverty, alienation, economic decline, government austerity, and structural violence (including police). These are systemic issues. What is happening in Surrey is happening elsewhere.

A social order based on exploitation and profit requires structural violence and repression to maintain it. This increases social tensions and conflict. So too do tax cuts for the rich and government austerity against the working class and poor. Technocratic solutions like surveillance cannot address these issues. Surveillance is already intense on certain youth (racialized, migrant)—police do surveillance in community centers and schools. Police integrate themselves early on into youth spaces and communities. That only serves to intensify alienation and despair.

There is a real, pressing, need to defund police and restore or put funding into social programs. As one audience member pointed out, to conclude the meeting, crime is the breaking of laws—but laws are the rules of the rulers. Laws construct certain people and activities as punishable (even if they are less harmful than other activities, like corporate crime, for example). Criminalization, in the end, serves the interests of property and property owners.

Video of panel:

Healing and Resistance in a Police State: The Anti Police-Terror Project

July 1, 2018

By Jeff Shantz

There is a life and death necessity for exploited and oppressed people and communities to organize to stop police and to provide alternatives to state policing. One example of how this organizing work can be done effectively, as a starting point, is  the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP). APTP is a Black-led, multiracial, intergenerational coalition organizing to eradicate police terrorism in communities of color. In addition to supporting families of victims of police and organizing to stop police violence, they have created a first responders team to go to the scene of police killings to gather information, take pictures of the scene and, where needed, launch inquiries.

On June 29, 2018, organizers from APTP discussed their work in a session “Healing and Resistance in a Police State” at Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre. Presenters included APTP members Asantewaa, Annie Banks, and James Burch.

Anti Police Terror Project

Asantewaa began by outlining the history of APTP. She was working with Black August when Oscar Grant was murdered. She notes that following police killings there is an initial response of anger but then over time there is less focus on the killing, partly because people are poor and have to work and cannot dedicate all of their time to killer cops. Organizers have recognized the need for more durable infrastructures to maintain opposition to killer cops. Asantewaa states that the support for families is the backbone of the work that APTP does.

From the start they realized that it had to be Black led and that white allies had to accept that. She says they also had to be explicit and state openly, “Fuck the Police”—without any apologies. APTP have been clear consistently in pointing out that the police are expressions of state violence, of state terror. APTP has organized to impact and end state terror, not only to react to it.

In discussing the structure of APTP Asantewaa says they needed to create an infrastructure where anyone can plug in and get right to work. General meetings are monthly and there are active committees on: Policy, Media, Legal, Security, and First Responders. Security defends direct actions but also works to support families since police direct acts of harassment against victims’ families. The legal team defends arrestees but also does support for families.

The First Responders compile information after acts of police violence and also do community investigations. They interview people in the community who saw the acts of police violence. Through their work they have gotten cops to recant untruthful statements and accounts.

Within 24 hours of an act of police violence APTP hold a vigil. They act with intent. It gets people out talking about what happened and shows the police that the community knows and cares about what happened.

Annie Banks, the Director of Fundraising for APTP, joined the team in 2015. She has studied archived media and discusses how the police narrative typically changes from the time of killing to later reports throughout the day. She stresses the importance of taking direct leadership from families.

James Burch, the Policy Coordinator, discussed the multiple forms of work in APTP. He reiterates that work for families is the core of the work they do. They help families navigate a path to justice according to their own needs and terms. The aftermath of a police killing is a disempowering context so they need to work to empower families. Burch stresses the need to organize no matter how many people show up at first. You have to be there for the families.

Defund and Dismantle the Cops

APTP note that police departments get 30 to 50 percent of general funds in cities (that is discretionary budget funds) in the US. This is true also in the Canadian context. The money for social and community services is all in the police budgets. So how can police budgets be accessed to fund real community resources (not police associated public services). APTP note that cities in the US are facing bankruptcy crises. There is a need to get them cutting police budgets.

When asked how to dismantle police, James Burch suggests defunding them as a step. Go after their contracts. Put pressure on councils to negotiate contracts for fewer cops as a start. Show where the money could be better spent on real, community based, social and community services.

APTP has put together a guide to spread the work. People can pick up a guide and run a campaign themselves anywhere. It is a way for APTP to share the work they are doing. The guide includes information about laws that protect police across the United States; about police association contracts; a guide to police commissions; and a guide to defunding police.

There is also the issue of developing community alternatives to police and building transformative justice practices. The Audre Lourde group builds tools for communities so people do not call the cops on their neighbors. They work to deal with neighborhood issues directly and supportively rather than calling the cops. APTP stress the need to create systems to keep people safe and are working to do this. Our communities need informal systems to protect each other.  

APTP also point out that folks with privilege need to harness and even weaponize their privilege and use it in spaces where less privileged people do not feel comfortable. Post-secondary faculty, especially criminologists, need to work to free their departments and campuses of cops.

APTP has had an impact such that cops in the East Bay now know that if they harm someone there will be consequences. There will be costs to the force, civil suits, etc. In San Francisco, where there is less such organizing, by comparison, cops kill with impunity. They have been conditioned to believe that they can kill with no response or cost of any kind. When police feel this , they expand their pressures socially and politically, to council, etc. They run the city.

A Local Need

In Surrey, the cops, the RCMP, run the city. The work that APTP are doing is work that is desperately needed in Surrey where the RCMP act like the occupying military force that they are. Where they extend their reach into all aspects of social life, creating a school to prison pipeline. Where they act, including people with impunity. Notably APTP organizers said that the policing situation in Surrey appeared worse than in Oakland. Work needs to be done to create a social context in which the RCMP cannot operate.

Take Home Naloxone Training with Erin Gibson - June 19, 2018

By Mike Ma

This week Erin Gibson, Fraser Health Authority, came to KPU (Surrey campus) to present Naloxone training. She gave an amazing presentation filled with clarity, gravitas, and humour. And she distributed many kits to students. Considering it was the summer term on campus we had a great turn out of more than 20 people. I think the highlight --for me-- was when we were trying out the "vanishing point" needles (i.e. they are spring loaded and the sharp tip retracts back into the syringe once the plunger is fully depressed), and I think some in attendance thought that that needle gets left in the body because the needle VANISHED! The overdose crisis is such a terrible situation, but the training had some levity to it I guess --for me. It is a strange disconnect. This training in the classroom vs. the reality of fentanyl poisoning.


The Peace Valley: A Necessary Lesson For Our Times

By Rita Wong

From a vantage point above the attempted destruction of the Peace River Valley for the Site C Dam, the trucks that move tons of dirt from one part of the river bank to another look like a huge waste of 12 billion dollars and counting. What a massive methane and mercury releasing disaster looks like in its early stages:

Peace River - Rita Wong - 1.jpg

Though the scale of destruction is distressing and incredibly wasteful of the rich alluvial soil that is BC’s best chance for northern food security, the land has other messages for us as well, if we listen carefully and learn. If this dirt is left alone and treated with respect, the land will take it back, and heal it for free.

Ken and Arlene Boon are farmers who steadfastly do their best to protect the Peace River Valley. Though their farm has been expropriated by BC Hydro, they remain on the land that Arlene’s family has farmed for generations. They are deeply grounded in the land’s resilience as well as witnesses to the horror of what happens when people do not fulfill their responsibilities to care for the land. Their farm sits near Cache Creek, which flows into the Peace River. Cache Creek’s fertile banks and watershed were clearcut and wastefully mulched by BC Hydro last year. However, the land is already healing itself, as we noticed horsetail and mushrooms reclaiming what had once been incredibly rich forest before Hydro wrecked it:

Peace River - Rita Wong - 2.jpg

Not everyone looks down and notices the humble life reasserting itself. For those who are less observant, though, even they cannot miss how the “dead” tree stumps left by Hydro are already growing back three feet of leafy exuberance. Here is Arlene standing by the vivid regrowth near Cache Creek in the Peace River Valley:

Peace River - Rita Wong - 4.jpg

The new growth is even higher in some places, as Arlene and Shilo demonstrate here:

Peace River - Rita Wong - 3.jpg

I found it heart-wrenching visiting the Peace Valley and seeing the signs marking how high the water would rise if the dam is allowed to break Treaty 8 and flood this sacred valley:

It’s distressing that BC is throwing away its best chance for food security by prioritizing a corrupt mega project that we don’t need over a sustainable economy based in food and respect for the land. Perfectly good farmland is being left to erode instead of being seeded because Hydro discourages farming – here is Arlene standing in a huge erosion ditch on expropriated farmland that BC Hydro is not looking after despite repeated complaints by its former owners:

Peace River - Rita Wong - 9.jpg

The Boons are the kind of people you want around in case of emergency – calm under pressure, smart, quick, and very capable. They told me the story of people rallying to help in a fire that had happened at their farm – neighbours and family members put their differences and arguments aside to come together to help. This, in a small scale, is what we need to happen on a large scale, with the emergency that global warming presents us. We need to learn to live in balance with the land, not destroy its resilience by removing the biodiversity and complex systems that already exist, that have evolved over millennia with a wisdom we urgently need to learn from. We need to honour and respect Indigenous people’s knowledges and histories with the land, not arrogantly displace them and erase that knowledge by imposing a bankrupt narrative of 20th century progress that has led us to the climate destabilization we now face as a species. Instead, Hydro is sending archeological excavators to dig up the Boons’ farm and “preserve” bits of history that they would make meaningless through removal from the land that gives them context.

The Boons are future thinking; they have solar panels on their farm, for instance:

Peace River - Rita Wong - 7.jpg

When monstrous monocultural industrialization falls apart because it is a brittle, unsustainable system, it is the self-sufficiency and on-the-ground knowledges of people like the Boons that will be our life support system. Thankfully, their practical and necessary approaches to respecting and working with the earth can be found quietly throughout the Peace Valley region. Although the loud noise and scale of oil, fracking and big extractive industries gets all the money and temporary attention, the future we need is also in the process of quietly building itself.

Hudson’s Hope, for instance, is the municipality with the highest amount of solar energy per capita in BC ( The newly installed solar wave outside their swimming pool is a beautiful testament to the power of the people:

Peace River - Rita Wong - 8.jpg

And Hip Peace Produce continues to farm this year, growing the four sisters – corn, squash, beans, sunflowers – and  providing delicious local produce to people up north, though its future remains endangered by the dam:

Peace River - Rita Wong - 11.jpg

The land speaks. The question is whether people have the capacity to listen and learn.

As the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations go to court on July 23 to seek an injunction on the Site C dam so that their case on treaty rights can be properly heard, it is more urgent than ever that everyone in BC listens to the land, the river, and the future they make possible. It is our responsibility to steward this future and not permit it to be foreclosed by the greed and corporate short-sightedness that is currently driving both Hydro and the provincial government that is running on business-as-usual assumptions instead of carefully assessing what we need to build the communities of the future on the ground.

To get updates about the First Nations efforts to seek an injunction to protect the sacred Peace River Valley from the Site C dam, please sign up at

TOPIA - Call for Papers: Special Issue on Carceral Logics

TOPIA -- Special Issue on Carceral Logics cfp

While the actual architectures of detention are hidden from view and remain inaccessible to the public at large, the impact of incarceration, its breadth and extension, becomes rendered as a set of logistics pervading and underlying everyday "non-carceral" life. We are asking for papers that address how the carceral came to shape the economies, ecologies, cultural and social lives of contemporary society? While the historical route of the carceral is most widely understood through the Black Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, the logic of confinement is also made plain through what Ann Stoler called the “imperial carceral archipelago”. In white settler nation states this happens through land dispossession, enclosures, and the reformation of property law. This results not just in the removal of indigenous peoples from land, but their subsequent move to the reserve, to the city and to the prison. Carceral logics have also informed the modern and contemporary era of border technologies, data aggregation, and surveillance. The Carceral state uses these data and technologies to organize populations and govern; to establish forms of segregation and partition. Refugee camps, immigrant detentions and other forms of mass incarceration have targeted racialised and marginalized communities such that the continuity between the institution of slavery in the United States, and the ongoing history of colonialism in Canada.

Beginning with resistances and challenges to carceral logics provides a different angle on the logic of the Carceral. These resistances are varied and strong, from the BDS campaign, solidarity movements between #blacklivesmatter and Palestine. Indigenous struggles and migrant justice networks have struggled to continually capture and redefine freedom’s meaning outside of this logistical matrix. The formation of prison solidarity in places such as Pelican Bay, Cairo, Abu Grahib, Guantanamo, are stories that belie how freedom can be singularly rendered as an element of the Carceral State.

We encourage papers that address (but are not limited to):

   Representational strategies concerning incarceration and freedom
➢        Data, surveillance, sousveillance
➢        Abolition movements
➢        Carceral intimacies
➢        Capital, labour, and political economy in the carceral state
➢        Enclosure, segregation, apartheid, partition
➢        Prison literacies
➢        Military occupation
➢        Carceral mobilities
➢        Dis/ability and incarceration
➢        Legacies of internment
➢        Cultural memories of incarceration
➢        Embodied in/carcerations
➢        Carceral feminism and its alternatives
➢        Poetics of resistance
➢        Freedom from Ferguson to Palestine
➢        Black Lives Matter
➢        Politics of containment and resistance
➢        From slavery to incarceration
➢        Indigenous dispossession and incarceration
➢        Carceral logistics at the level of domesticity and social reproduction
➢        Red zones and other carceral geographies
➢        Community responses to urban policing and punishment
➢        Pedagogy and the carceral, e.g. Teaching Inside/Out

We require papers of 6500 words, by June 30, 2018. Please send them to

Please follow these guidelines for format and style before submitting for consideration. Manuscripts that do not adhere to these guidelines will be returned to the author for revision.

Style Manual & Dictionary Style manual: Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (http://

Dictionary: Canadian Oxford Dictionary ( region=uk)

Submission Rules:

Abstracts: Should be between 150 and 300 words in length. Please provide a French translation of the abstract; if translation is unavailable, notify TOPIA staff.

Biographical statement: Please send a short biographical statement of 50 to 100 words.

For full style information please consult

Vancouverites Bring a Piece of the Peace to BC’s Attorney General

Site C Dam - cutting trees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 24 May, 2018   Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories  
Vancouverites Bring a Piece of the Peace to BC’s Attorney General
At noon on Friday, May 25, Fight C, a Vancouver-based group dedicated to solidarity with the Peace River Valley’s protectors, will be gifting David Eby mulched Peace Valley trees that were clearcut in preparation for the Site C dam. This destructive, wasteful project would destroy forests and farmland that BC needs intact as its best possible response to climate change. Fight C asserts that it is NOT too late to stop the dam, as the trees will grow back if the northern valley is not flooded. 
“Because not many people in the Lower Mainland have been up north to the Peace Valley, they may not realize the vast territory that would be flooded for the dam is a huge violation of Treaty 8,” says Lianne Payne, a member of Fight C. “Because the Province of BC signed onto Treaty 8, everyone in BC is responsible for upholding this treaty that protects the right of First Nations to live, hunt, fish and practice their culture on the land. As settlers and treaty people, we need to hold our governments accountable to act honourably.” 
June 21, National Aboriginal Day, is also the 119th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 8, largest and last treaty. Vancouver author Rita Wong asks, “How long will it take for us as Canadians to honour our treaties in this era of “reconciliation”?” She and hundreds of other citizens are pledging at a new website,, to follow and support the West Moberly and Prophet River court case seeking to protect the Peace Valley,  
“We cannot allow this to be out of sight, out of mind. Since BC’s MLAs aren’t making the trip to witness the destruction of the land, we will bring it to their doorsteps. Hopefully this reminds them of what they are allowing when they don’t stand up against the Liberal bullying tactics to force the dam upon Indigenous people, despite its blatant environmental racism,” states Mike Gildersleeve.  
“When the government fails us, it’s up to the people to step up,” adds Lindsay Hughes. “This dam amounts to attempted genocide. In this time of supposed reconciliation, BC must do better. It must walk its talk of implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.”  
We invite the media and all members of the public to join us at 2909 West Broadway, at David Eby’s constituency office in Kitsilano, where Fight C has been holding weekly actions in solidarity with the Peace Valley every Friday from 12 pm to 2 pm. The actions have ranged from a vigil, complete with a coffin to mourn the death of evidence-based decision-making, to a lemonade stand to raise funds for the legal battle waged by West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations and for our children’s exorbitant Hydro bills if the dam is not stopped. The court case for these two First Nations from Treaty 8 is expected to begin in late July 2018. 

 “In a recent turn of events, the Federal government is not opposing the injunction sought by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations. Why can’t BC follow this lead?” asks Shahira Sakiyama.  
The attached photographs show how perfectly healthy, good trees were wastefully mulched, and not used for timber in BC Hydro’s destructive haste to clear the valley while the West Moberly First Nation is still seeking justice and recognition of their sacred relationship with the Peace River, “the main artery of West Moberly territory, the lifeblood of their culture,” according to the injunction application they filed in January 2018.  
For more information, contact Rita Wong at 604.653.4006,  

Ian Angus - Kinder Morgan Protest - Statement before Justice Affleck

Ian Angus - Kinder Morgan Pipeline Protest

By Michael C.K. Ma

Ian Angus is one of the people arrested and charged for criminal contempt of court because he disobeyed the Trans Mountain Pipeline injunction against protest. He appeared before the BC Court on May 14th, 2018. After his plea of guilty and his statement, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck decided that no one else would be allowed to make such statements following their plea. So, it seems that Ian Angus has the honour of being the first and last protester to make a statement before the court.

See below for his statement:


Statement to the Court before sentencing

I would like to begin by acknowledging that the City of Vancouver, where this court is situated, lies on the traditional and unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and Squamish First Nations.

Having heard the recommendation of the Crown regarding my guilty plea to the charge of Criminal Contempt for “physically obstructing, impeding or otherwise preventing access” to the Burnaby Terminal of Trans Mountain (Kinder Morgan) on March 24, 2018, I would like to make the following clarification, explanation, and request for an altered penalty. I have been encouraged to do so in the first place by the Provincial Court information on sentencing and in the second place by the response of Judge Affleck to my question to him in court on April 23 when he said that I would be allowed to explain the “context” of my action.

I do not deny that I was physically present at the place in question at the time in question. My understanding of civil disobedience is that one commits a certain act for definite and considered reasons, one admits to the act, explains one’s reasons, and accepts the penalty. The purpose of the act is to bring a state of affairs to the attention of the public and the authorities with the intention and hope that it may serve to correct an error in justice.

Through this procedure, even though one may break a given law, or in this case an injunction issued by a court of law, one does not express disrespect for law in general. This understanding was clear to me prior to the event and very much on my mind on that day.

Positive law is always flawed as human beings are flawed. It is also flawed insofar as it serves interests which are not required by public safety but are nevertheless entrenched in the unequal power structure of the social order.

I felt proud to be able to join my near neighbours, the Tsleil-Waututh people, who have cared for this place for thousands of years, in order to oppose a project that puts our common inhabitation in grave danger.

A social order in which citizens follow the law simply because it is the law, in which they do not assess the practice of the law with their own critical faculties, could not be called a democracy. The critical intelligence of citizens is essential to a non-repressive social order. Indeed, it is only through acts which test the practice of law in specific cases that law can be revised more closely to approximate justice. Justice is above law. It is how we assess and revise law. It is what we are fitted for, what can make us most human, that for which we must continually strive.

The classic understanding of civil disobedience is complicated in our own time and place. Since we are living in unceded territories whose formal economic, social and political structure is a consequence of a colonial past and present, the dominant law represents such a colonial structure. There is also another law that has been established by the traditions and institutions of the Indigenous people of this place. Why are we not subject to that law also?

I have lived for the last 26 years with my wife and daughter beside the Burrard Inlet. It is of great concern to me that this beautiful and fecund place be preserved for our children and grandchildren. I felt proud to be able to join my near neighbours, the Tsleil-Waututh people, who have cared for this place for thousands of years, in order to oppose a project that puts our common inhabitation in grave danger. I respect their law.

If we do not place economic activity within an ecological context soon, the future of the human species, and the other species with whom we share the earth, looks very bleak.

Our country is in a difficult time. There is much talk, both official and popular, about reconciliation with Indigenous people. After all, they have suffered greatly from government policies, and collaboration in rendering that suffering by dominant institutions, that have tried to extinguish their cultures and their peoples. Many citizens have come to feel, knowing more than we used to about their suffering and the role of our institutions in causing it, that it is time to put an end to this legacy and to start anew. But for reconciliation to be more than symbolic, it has to make a difference in our actions. The Kinder Morgan pipeline is one important case in which real actions can make a difference. The action in front of the Kinder Morgan gate is, in my opinion, a case of real reconciliation that goes beyond mere lip-service.

Not only our country but the whole planet is in a difficult time because of the ravishes of industrial production and consumption. The foreseeable, near future of the human species, and also species of many other kinds, is threatened by the effects of climate change in destabilizing the ecological balance upon which we depend. Radical and immediate action is necessary to realign priorities in order even to begin to address this problem. Yet we look to our elected leaders in vain for any real action. They continue to put in place mega-projects of industrial infrastructure that deepen the problem and make it more difficult to change direction. If we do not place economic activity within an ecological context soon, the future of the human species, and the other species with whom we share the earth, looks very bleak.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline is an important example of a desperate coalition of government, industry and finance attempting to retain and even expand the past industrial economy with increasingly dangerous consequences.

For about 40 years, I taught in various institutions of higher education — most recently, at Simon Fraser University, whose location near the proposed expanded tank farm would put its population at grave risk in case of an accident. My vocation as a teacher, scholar and writer has been to think as widely and deeply about natural and human issues as I can, and to communicate with the younger generation about the lessons of the past and the challenges of the future. I have tried to discharge that responsibility to the best of my ability, stressing independent and critical thinking, social and ecological responsibility, and, perhaps most difficult of all in recent years, finding sources of hope that can orient our living-toward-the-future. This spring I felt that this responsibility had to be taken beyond the seminar room, lecture hall, and written word to a site where all of these concerns converge.

The convergence of issues of reconciliation with Indigenous nations, environmental and ecological danger, and social inequality due to the rapacious pursuit of private profit has made this not only a difficult time but one of crisis. The forces who wish to maintain the current system have come together to oppose those who seek a new future. When a new future appears on the horizon, the repression of this future, the fear of change, expresses itself in more and more desperate attempts to hang on to the errors of the past. The Kinder Morgan pipeline is an important example of a desperate coalition of government, industry and finance attempting to retain and even expand the past industrial economy with increasingly dangerous consequences. But, as creatures of thought, creativity and hope, human beings will always seek to address, in any form that they can muster, the gravity of the crisis and to push for something new and better.

There is a future struggling to be born in which environmental and ecological responsibility, social justice and equality, and reconciliation with the ancient claims of Indigenous peoples, each play their part. The old forces are arrayed against its emergence. Thus we are here today.

I was there. I did it. I meant to do it. The Crown has proposed a penalty of a fine of $500.00. I propose an alternative penalty of a fine of $1.00. The fact of a fine would be an acknowledgement that I broke the law in disobeying the injunction. Its amount would be an acknowledgement that my reasons for doing so mean that the act amounts to the exercise of a civic, human and natural responsibility.

Ian Angus lives in East Vancouver with his wife Viviana and daughter Cassandra. He is a retired Humanities professor from Simon Fraser University.

Symposium on the Struggles of Homeless, Urban Poor, and the Internally Displaced - May 19, 2018, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, B.C.

Symposium on the Struggles of Homeless, Urban Poor, and the Internally Displaced - May 19, 2018, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, B.C.

By Jeff Shantz

The present period of neoliberal capitalist offensive is one of dispossession, displacement, and containment of growing numbers of working class people, and requires militant opposition. On Saturday, May 19, 2018, 100 or so people gathered in Fir 128 on the Surrey campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) for the Symposium on the Struggles of Homeless, Urban Poor, and Internally Displaced People, an event that I hosted at KPU, to analyze and strategize community self defense against the attacks on poor people.

Participants included members of several community resistance groups, including the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS), the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), Migrante, the International Workers Centre of Montreal (IWC), the East Indian Defense Committee, THAW-Victoria,  the Anti-Colonialist Working Group of Kitchener-Waterloo, Our Homes Can’t Wait, Chinatown Action Group, Pacific Rim Solidarity Network, Chinatown-International District Coalition (Seattle), Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (Seattle), Grassroots Women, Surrey People Power, and the Critical Criminology Working Group.

The aim of the symposium was to learn from united anti-imperialist poor peoples’ movements. Panels included “Developing anti-imperialist positions on criminalized industries” and “Resisting the fascist containment state.” There were multi-participant roundtables on experiences of informal, unpaid, and precarious and criminalized work, and on poor peoples’ resistance to gentrification and displacement. These emphasized the experiences of criminalized people and community organizers.

A central focus of the panel on criminalized industries was the drug war as a mechanism of control and regulation of poor and working class people. It was emphasized that the drug trade is a global imperialist structure. It is not poor people from the Downtown Eastside who are bringing drugs into the country, as Hugh Lampkin of VANDU pointed out.

The global context is essential in understanding criminalized labor. This is a context of dispossession, landlessness, and global chains of labor. It is a context of occupation, militarization, and imperialist wars of aggression. It was noted that according to author Samir Amin, there are still three billion people engaged in peasant farming and they are being proletarianized—removed from their lands. Military, as in Canada, are increasingly engaged in “investment defense”—straight up security service for capital (in extractives, extreme energy projects, etc.). We can see this in defense of projects like the tar sands developments. And we should remember that a young Indigenous man, James McIntyre, was killed by the RCMP for opposing the Site C dam in so-called British Columbia.

Speakers from Migrante and the IWC noted that migrant workers are treated like import commodities, like pineapples or coconuts. They are moved around according to the needs of capital in specific markets.

Discussions developed notions of super-exploitation. All work for capital involves exploitation, the extraction of surplus value from workers for capital. Super-exploitation denies freedoms available to other workers, such as the freedom to move or change contracts. This can include contractual obligations to bosses or debt bondage. Work permits allow for super-exploitation. Movement is tied to specific employers. Under conditions of super-exploitation pay is below what is needed to survive.

Speakers from VANDU emphasized that peers are essential community health workers. They provide necessary health services. But they are not paid like other health care workers (or paid at all). The distinction was clearly made between peers who work through trust versus professionalized services that work with police.

Flora and Vince of Our Homes Can’t Wait affirmed that militant street action works. They noted that if you engage in negotiations with powerholders they take things away from you. They discussed the recent occupation of City Hall in Vancouver.

Jannie Leung of Chinatown said we always need to ask: “How does gentrification affect peoples’ material conditions?” They noted that relationships are intergenerational and connections are important, The youngest member of Chinatown Action Group is 14, the oldest IS 108. Leung argued that in our actions and campaigns we need to expose a class enemy (a developer, for example) and develop a class analysis. We need to have demands that build class power. Demands need to show what a better world or actual liberation can look like. Choosing campaigns is always strategic.

Organization is necessary to help people to fight exploitation and oppression. To provide essential services. And also to fight off assaults from employers and police.

Martha Roberts of Surrey People Power stressed four organizing points. First, the need to organize the working class on a class basis, across divisions of legitimized and criminalized labor. Second, bourgeois law is not an instrument of liberation. The more police, the less you are protected. Third, the need to address slavery within super-exploited labor. Fourth, the essential need to fight for wealth redistribution now. As one presented image suggested: Defend communities, defund police.

On the whole this was a powerful day of organizing energy and ideas. It is the sort of event much needed in Surrey. I look forward to participating in more such organizing and strategy sessions at KPU.

FPSE - AGM at Whistler, BC - May 2018

By Michael C.K. Ma (Local 5, KPU)

Last week I attended the AGM for the Federation of Post Secondary Educators in Whistler. It was great to meet and chat with fellow union members --especially since, as locals, we are spread out all over the province and this is really the only chance each year where we get to share our experiences and thoughts. This year there was healthy debate and discussion regarding a number of important union issues. Notable was the debate regarding our strike fund and the absolute necessity to continue exercising and growing this fund. During the four day meeting it was great to see and hear the passion that union members have for solidarity and social action.

Some of the best resolutions that came out of the AGM, was penned by Rita Wong of Local 22 at Emily Carr University (see photos above of the original drafts and wording). Single-handedly, Rita penned no less than three resolutions pertaining to resource extraction and the environment. The resolutions proposed supporting the Legal Defence Fund for the Kinder Morgan Protest, supporting the Unist'ot'en Camp that strategically blocks numerous pipeline projects, and  supporting the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations legal battle to seek an injunction this summer against the Site C dam. All three resolutions to provide financial support ($2000 to each cause) were passed unanimously. That was amazing!

Sometimes union politics feels very slow and sluggish, but the fact that these three social justice actions were monetarily supported by FPSE makes me feel like we --as a social union movement-- really are part of something bigger, extremely important, and sustained and ... so needed. Solidarity Forever.


Rita Wong explains: Stop Site C dam protest at David Eby's office

Rita Wong: Stop Site C Dam

Rita Wong: Stop Site C Dam

Rita Wong explains: Stop Site C dam protest at David Eby's office.

Rita Wong argues that there is far less work being done at Site C than in reality. The government has wrongly stated that 25% of the work has been completed. Currently there is just a big hole in the ground.

Wong states: "There is nothing being done that is irreversible."

The protest occurs every Friday 12:00-2:00 pm in front of David Eby's office.

Click play button below.