Prisoner's Justice Day allows former inmates to air their issues with the system in public - APTN NewsAPTN News

Prisoner’s Justice Day allows former inmates to air their issues with the system in public


Todd Lamirande
APTN National News

A few dozen people walked several blocks from Ontario’s courthouse, across downtown Ottawa to the Department of Justice on Prisoner’s Justice Day. 

“We’re remembering those who lost their lives in prison due to unnatural causes,” said Dan Parlow who spent 30 years in a penitentiary.

Parlow is Ojibway, and a sixties scoop survivor.

“I had no connection to the land, culture, language, spirituality,” said Parlow. “Which later became a cornerstone for walking in a good way.”

Prisoner’s Justice Day began in 1975 on the one year anniversary of the death of Edward Nalon.

Nalon took his own life while in solitary confinement, called the ‘Black Hole’ at Millhaven.

On that day in 1975, prisoners at Millhaven refused to work, and eat. ‘

The protest soon spread through other prisons across the country.

On a megaphone, a member of the group told everyone what happened after Nalon’s suicide.

“In 1976 the prisoners of Millhaven issued a communication calling for a one-day hunger strike in opposition to the use of solitary confinement.”


Since then, August 10 is the day to recognize a number of prison related issues.

“There’s been an attempt it appears to have corrections be more gentle,” said David Moffette, professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa.

“But the truth is people continue to die in prison, violence continues to occur, solitary confinement is still a very used practice.”

Dan Parlow spent most of his 30 years in Millhaven, one of seven Penitentiary’s in Kingston, Ont.

“We have an over-representation of First Nations people in the prison system, especially women, due to systematic racism,” he said.

Moffette said that over-representation is because Indigenous peoples are over policed.

Prisoner’s Justice Day was marked in cities across Canada. 

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