Elizabeth Fry Week
May 7, 2018
The Honourable Senator Kim Pate :
Honourable senators, happy Mental Health Week and happy National Elizabeth Fry Week.
Every year, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies celebrates Elizabeth Fry week. Elizabeth Fry societies will organize public events across the country.
Elizabeth Fry week always falls on the week leading up to Mother’s Day. The majority of women in prison are mothers, and most of them are single mothers at the time of incarceration.
When mothers are sentenced to imprisonment, they and their children are sentenced to separation, a condition that many women and any mother would consider to be the most severe punishment. The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies aims to draw attention to this reality by ending National Elizabeth Fry Week on Mother’s Day.
The overarching goal of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, CAEFS, is to enhance public awareness, education and most important to remedy the circumstances of marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized women and girls. Current priorities include challenging the over-classification and segregation or solitary confinement of women, particularly Indigenous and other racialized women, and those with mental health issues. Additionally, CAEFS opposes the prison system’s unwarranted and invasive uses of force, especially strip searches, as well as the consequent interference with safe and gradual release and community integration.
By focusing on “Meeting Women’s Needs in the Community and Alternatives to Institutionalization,” the 24 member societies encourage Canadians to proactively focus on addressing substantive inequality and justice matters from coast to coast to coast. They work to redress discriminatory attitudes and contribute to the development of and support for community-based alternatives to incarceration, thereby alleviating human, social and fiscal costs.
CAEFS challenges Canadians to reach behind the walls and bring women into our communities so that they may take responsibility and account for their actions in ways that make sense to them and to us.
Honourable senators, I ask that you join me in congratulating CAEFS on the fine work they continue to do throughout the country. Happy National Elizabeth Fry Week to all. Thank you. Meegwetch.