West Coast LEAF and NWAC team up to bring intersecting oppressions to the fore.
This past January, the BC Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision that Canada’s practice of solitary confinement in federal prisons is unconstitutional.
Notably, Justice Leask found that the practice of “administrative segregation” – isolating people for up for up to 23 hours a day with no meaningful human contact, for prolonged and indefinite periods of time – is harmful to all and discriminates against Indigenous people and people experiencing disabling mental illness.
Much to our disappointment, Canada appealed Justice Leask’s judgment. The appeal will be heard at the BC Court of Appeal on November 13-14, 2018.
We have teamed up with the Native Women’s Association of Canada to intervene in the case as it moves up to appeal. Last Friday, West Coast LEAF and NWAC were granted intervenor status at the BC Court of Appeal.
Now, we are hard at work on our argument.
Our focus remains on the need for the law to account for the intersections of race, disability, gender, and sex in order to fully understand discrimination.
Specifically, we are highlighting the unique and manifold harms isolation inflicts on women who are Indigenous, have disabling mental illness, and Indigenous women with disabling mental illness.
We are also drawing attention to the need for alternatives to segregation appropriate for these populations, and for ways to provide access to justice to those most marginalized in our criminal justice system.
While we’re disappointed that the Canadian government is choosing to fight Justice Leask’s ruling, we know that progress is often two steps forward, one step back. Injustice requires us to show up and fight.