Friday, July 6, 2012

Prisoner Advocacy and Activism Resources - Series

This post to appear regularly will deal with services, organizations, and grassroots advocacy  which supports people who are criminalised by the biased, racist, sexist, colonizer - otherwise known as the government and other mainstream, status quo bully's in Canada (may occasionally include info about radical international advocacy)

Womens Prison Storybook Project
An Edmonton area library association has been providing books and library resources to the women imprisoned at the Edmonton Institution for Women and they are looking for volunteers to take part in an upcoming programme to begin this fall which will record the voices of mothers locked up at EIW, reading a story book to their children.

Women in Prison
However limited it maybe, these kinds of initiatives are important because they provide what is for some families the only way for women and children to communicate and be in touch.  For the few women who do get visits at the institution, conditions are coersive, stressed, false, and violent.  Many women choose not to subject their kids to this environment.  And while the story book initiative does provide some limited choice, its important to remember that it should not be a needed resource.  We as a people have limited and more often than not, no reason at all for separating families.  We do so in the mot cavalier, callous, and discriminatory fashion.  Womens imprisonment is highly political, racist, and classist.  When the circumstances surrounding their imprisonment and criminalisation are considered this fact becomes undeniably obvious.

Details on the Call-out for Volunteers: The Edmonton Prison for Women Storybook Project;

Volunteers Needed for the Storybook Project
About the project…for a few hours on the last Saturday of each month (usually) two volunteers go to the Edmonton Institution For Women to record women reading a storybook to a child. The storybook and audio recording is then mailed to the child.
Volunteers are reimbursed for the cost of CDs, envelopes and postage associated with the project.
You will need your own laptop to record the reading.
The prison is not easily accessible by public transportation. If you don’t have your own transportation to the prison you may be able to carpool with the other volunteer. Carpooling cannot however be guaranteed.
Security clearance and volunteer training is required before you can volunteer at the prison. While the process is not onerous the scheduling of the training can take awhile to coordinate. We are recruiting for volunteers this summer to begin working on the Storybook project in late September, early October.
We are looking for people who can commit to the project for at least one year; and  volunteer at the prison at least 2-4  Saturdays a year.
If you are interested in this project contact the project coordinator, Valla at

more details:

About the Project

The Women’s Prison Subcommittee of the Greater Edmonton Library Association (GELA) is a group of volunteers from the library community working on an ongoing basis in the Edmonton Institution for Women.
We have been involved with work in the EIFW library (including collection-building, weeding, revitalizing the facility, and policy development); inmate book clubs (dedicated to adult literature and young adult fiction); a storybook project (where women record themselves reading aloud, and their recording is sent to children in their families); a book borrowing project that allows inmates to access materials from Edmonton Public Library; and a writers’ group. We have an additional book club and storybook project that works with inmates in the Secure Unit.
The Prison Sub-Committee  also performs much of its work in co-operation with Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom, a student group at the University of Alberta’s School of Library and Information Studies.
The Prison Sub-Committee meets several times a year. We welcome new members and support for our endeavours. We also gratefully accept cash donations and books to support our projects. For more information, or to get involved, please contact us at gelaprisonproject AT gmail DOT COM.

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