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Elizabeth Fry Week: Build Communities, Not Prisons, May 2020

On the week leading up to Mother’s Day, The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and local Elizabeth Fry Societies across the country mark Elizabeth Fry Week. We continue to mark this week as Elizabeth Fry Week because most women in prison are mothers, and many of these women were the sole supporters of their families at the time they were incarcerated. When mothers are sentenced to prison, their children are sentenced to separation. Every year, we choose a different theme for Elizabeth Fry Week in order to draw attention to the issues impacting criminalized and vulnerable women, trans, non-binary, and Two Spirit people.

In 2020, We used this week to highlight the amazing community building work that all of our local member societies do – before, during, and after COVID-19 – because we know that the only real alternative to prisons are thriving communities. This was also a time to imagine what a thriving community may look like when we emerge from the pandemic. The pandemic has exposed serious
flaws and gaps our existing systems. It has become glaringly obvious that we need to create a new way of operating – one that reflects the vital lessons we have been learning about how we are all able to contribute to collective safety and care.

In a time when there is so much uncertainty, we focused on making this week one that was centered on hope and imagination, working together to envision the communities we need.

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