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Bringing Down Barriers: 2SLGBTQ+ In Prison

April 8, 2021 @ 12:00 pm 1:00 pm

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/973407346730903

Advance registration required. Register at the Zoom link provided in this event posting. April 2021 is the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to honour the voices and experiences of victims and survivors, and to bring awareness to issues relating to sexualized violence. Everyone has a role to play in ending sexual assault, harassment, and abuse. This year, Avalon has partnered with other community organizations working to support survivors of sexualized violence, to bring people together for conversation, learning and strategizing on bringing down barriers to service access.

“2SLGBTQ+ In Prison” is the first of these conversations.2SLGBTQ+ people (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, plus (+) other ways individuals express their gender and sexuality outside heteronormativity and the gender binary) experience high levels of policing and criminalization, arrest and incarceration. Once inside prison, 2SLGBTQ+ people are subjected to violence by both prison staff and other prisoners.

In Nova Scotia, very little is known about the experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ within the Nova Scotia criminal justice system, which is why Coverdale launched a research project exploring just that. The key findings will be discussed and presented, as well as recommendations on how our communities can advocate for justice and transformation within our justice system. Project participant, advocate and survivor Sara Tessier will share her first-hand knowledge of violence inside prison and shed light on the ways in which sexualized violence permeates carceral settings.

Ash Avery (she/her) is a queer feminist writer, advocate and mother. She has been working with and for criminalized and incarcerated women and gender diverse folks in Nova Scotia since 2015. She is the Executive Director of Coverdale Courtwork Society, a Halifax based non-profit organization that provides supports and services to women and gender diverse people involved in the criminal justice system. For the past two years she has been researching the experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in the criminal justice system, with the guidance of Dr. Rachel Zellers and El Jones. Her work to support the exodus of provincial prisoners from jail during the COVID-19 pandemic won the Michael McDonald access to justice award. Recently, Ash founded “Caitlan’s Place” –a 6 bed bail house for women and gender diverse individuals in Halifax.

Sara A. Tessier (she/her) is a social justice advocate with lived experience who has spent the last 5 years working with and on behalf of some of the most marginalized, victimized, criminalized, and institutionalized men, women and youth in Canada. She has worked on the JEC Housing project with John Howard, Elizabeth Fry Mainland Nova Scotia, and Coverdale Courtwork Society in supporting people exiting provincial jail during the Covid-19 pandemic. She is an advisor for African Nova Scotian Affairs Mobilizing Partnership Program, a committee member for YWCA’s Trafficking & Exploitation Services System LGBTQ+ cultural group and sits on the CAEFS Lived Experience Committee. She is currently a Peer Mentor with Coverdale Courtwork Society and also works with the G.A.T.E team with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia.

The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre is a feminist organization working to eliminate sexual assault/abuse, and to change the current socio-political culture that fosters sexism, social injustice and other forms of oppression.

Online: us02web.zoom.us