P4W Memorial Garden - Solidarity Letter

March 21, 2018

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The P4W Memorial Collective requests your endorsement of our campaign to create a memorial garden to honour the women who died in the Kingston Prison for Women (P4W) on a small plot of land (12’ x 12’) adjacent to the front administration building.

Our Collective is composed of women from many different walks of life, but we have especially welcomed women with lived experience in prison or with connections to prisoners through community groups like E. Fry Kingston, the Native Sisterhood and Native Brotherhood, local religious ministries, and prisoner justice activism. Our main purpose is to honour the memory of women who died inside P4W, but we also want to raise awareness that, long after the closure of P4W, women are still dying in custody and suffering inhumane treatment in prisons across Canada.

The Federal Prison for Women in Kingston is one of the most notorious prisons in Canadian history. Just four years after it opened in 1934, the Archambault Report recommended its closure due to “disgraceful” conditions. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, experiments with LSD and electroconvulsive therapy were conducted on women at P4W, leading to a 1998 lawsuit against Dr. Mark Eveson (a Queen’s graduate). In 1964, a Queen’s M.A. student, Judith Martin, successfully defended a thesis on “Pain Tolerance and Narcotic Addiction” based on research on prisoners at P4W; she co-published the results of her research with Queen’s professor, James Inglis in 1965. In 1977, the MacGuigan Report called for the closure of P4W once again, declaring the prison “unfit for bears, much less for women.” Still, the prison remained open.  Between December 1988 and February 1991, seven women at the P4W committed suicide; six of these women were Indigenous. It was not until after Madam Justice Arbour’s 1996 condemnation of the disconnect between human rights, the rule of law and operational reality in P4W, that the process of transferring prisoners across the country to the six newly built institutions began in earnest.  The prison finally closed in 2000.

Seven years later, Queen’s University purchased the P4W site for a reported $2.8 million. The site is currently for sale, and we are concerned that it may be developed for commercial purposes that erase or trivialize its history. In 2016, Elizabeth Fry Kingston asked Queen’s if we could create a memorial garden at P4W, but the request was not honoured. In 2018, after ten years as the site’s owner, Queen’s University is uniquely situated to recognize the history of P4W and set aside land on site for a memorial garden. Given the University’s history of research on prisoners and its commitment to critical education and community engagement, and considering that the University has not paid taxes on this property—eight acres of prime real estate acquired at less than market value—Queen’s is well placed to fulfill its educational mandate and role as a good citizen.

The current silence of P4W’s abandoned architectural carcass is a betrayal of the histories it housed. The age and emptiness of the buildings can easily mislead passers by to think that the painful facts of women's incarceration in Canada and the painful facts of colonization are things of the past. Indigenous people are the most marginalized, least secure, and the most incarcerated in Canada.  The links between these facts were made clear in the Truth and Reconciliation Report.  Recommendation 30 of the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action says: “We call on federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody over the next decade, and to issue detailed annual reports that monitor and evaluate progress in doing so.” This overrepresentation is especially acute for Indigenous women.  Since P4W closed, more Indigenous women have been imprisoned than any other segment of the population (increasing by 109% between 2001-2012). A memorial garden with art and educational panels acknowledging the connections between colonization, residential schools, violence against Indigenous women, and the lives and deaths of women incarcerated at P4W represents a unique opportunity for community engagement and public education. Moreover, it would contribute to Queen’s efforts to uphold its commitment to new nation-wide Principles on Indigenous Education.

Please join us in asking Queen’s University to create a memorial garden on the former site of the Prison for Women.  Add your name and/or organization to the signatories below, or send a letter of support to P4Wmemorialcollective@gmail.com by March 30, 2018, if possible (but later endorsements will also be accepted).  A simple affirmation of support is more than welcome, but we would love to hear more about why you think this project is important. What have we learned since the prison closed in 2000? What do women learn doing federal time? What is learned off their backs? How do we share the responsibility of honouring their memory? As the twentieth anniversary of the prison’s closure approaches, we are planning a nation-wide gathering to reflect on these and many other questions.

In solidarity,

The P4W Memorial Collective

Yessica Rivera Belsham
Founder and Executive Director, Circle of Wellness

Fran Chaisson
Formerly Incarcerated at P4W

Jacqueline Davies
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Queen’s University

Lisa Guenther
Queen’s National Scholar in Political Philosophy and Critical Prison Studies

Ann Hansen
Formerly Incarcerated at P4W

Linda Mussell
PhD Candidate in Political Studies, Queen’s University


1. Jessica Traviss
2. Stephanie Lovelace
3. Jane Cookie Chartrand
4. Tanya Louise Morgan-Zagrodney
5. Margaret Little
6. Mary Farrar
7. Samantha King
8. Elizabeth Cohoe
9. Kathleen Wright
10. Laura Murray
11. Donna Lynn - Espit Samquan
12. Randi Kennedy
13. Niki Kaloudas
14. Marie Bencze
15. Taylor Burnie
16. Katie-Marie McNeill
17. Robin McDonald
18. James McCartney
19. Scarlet Christiaans
20. Theresa Eagles
21. Caleigh Matheson
22. Jane Kirby
23. Linda Hahn
24. Aric McBay
25. Brittany Amey
26. Karin More
27. Sheridan Carr
28. Marsha Rampersaud
29. Cynthia Levine-Rasky
30. Jess Wiersema
31. Chancelor Maracle
32. Patricia Maung
33. Corrie Fletcher
34. Sarah Smith
35. Adam James Sutton
36. Chloë Taylor
37. Shoshana Pollack
38. Kim Pate
39. Gillian Balfour
40. Alexandra Simpson
41. Stephanie Baker
42. Jessica Hutchison
43. Tanya Friesen
44. Diane Conrad
45. Lisa Kerr
46. Rita Wong
47. Kirsten
48. julie thompson
49. Rachel Fayter
50. Kelly Hannah-Moffat
51. Kelly Struthers Montford
52. Allison Sivak
53. Jenn Clamen
54. Jennifer Kilty
55. Harry Critchley
56. Kassandra Churcher
57. Heidi Graf
58. Kate Crozier
59. Amy Klassen
60. Shobana Rajan
61. Brett Story, PhD
62. Elin Sigurdson
63. DJ Larkin
64. Kate Curry
65. Shailagh Keaney
66. Molly Swain
67. Phyllis Iverson
68. Alexis Shotwell
69. Nicole Myers
70. Justin Piché, PhD
71. Aislinn Gallivan
72. Jeff Shantz
73. Claire Abraham
74. Amanda Wilson
75. Nancy Poon PhD
76. Debra Parkes
77. Melanie Carrington
78. Julia Crabbe
79. Jeannette Tossounian
80. Kathy Kendall
81. Leanne Kilby
82. Brenda Moore
83. Kayley Marsh
84. Giselle Dias
85. Fran
86. Jocelyn Hamilton
87. Elaine Stef
88. Jonathan Rudin
89. Kym Maclaren
90. Darlene Lawson
91. Lee Shropshire
92. Reiko Tagami
93. Nancy Pollak
94. Megan Ellis QC
95. Jennifer Peirce
96. Wendy Frost
97. Nancy Pollak
98. Nancy Pollak
99. Pamela Harrison
100. Simone Weil Davis
101. N Chambers
102. Bonny Spencer
103. Bonny Spencer
104. L Croft
105. Emily Kidd White
106. Elsie Nisonen
107. Julie Gregory
108. Bonny Spencer
109. Jill Beamish
110. Bonny Spencer
111. Adelina Iftene
112. Diane Serre
113. Efrat Arbel
114. Linda Murray
115. Terra Poirier
116. Judy Iverson
117. Heather Hoiness
118. Joyclin Coates
119. Patti Pettigrew
120. Ryan Walsh
121. Nancy Van Styvendale
122. Jennifer Metcalfe
123. Jessica McEachern
124. Dara Culhane
125. Melissa Molyneux
126. Reanna Teske
127. Billee Laskin
128. Simon Borys
129. Kimi Hawkes
130. Vicki Chartrand
131. Andrea Krüsi
132. Julie Darke
133. Jane Ellison
134. Sheila Wildeman
135. Rosalea Thompson
136. Elizabeth MacKenzie
137. Joni Miller
138. Allison Campbell
139. Goo Johnston
140. Katannya Jantzen
141. Deanna Partridge-David
142. Tara tait
143. Grace MacCormick
144. Gladys Harvey
145. Shawnee Gregory
146. Margo Rivera
147. Melissa Rickey
148. Lacey Leibel
149. Beline Benyes
150. W von Statt
151. Nessa Palmer
152. Meenakshi Mannoe
153. Meenakshi Mannoe
154. Venge Dixon
155. Joy A Thompson
156. Ashley Smit
157. Chris Rahim
158. Jody Bailey
159. Kenna Fair
160. brooke lydbrooke
161. Julius Fisher
162. Joelene Clarke
163. Susan Haines
164. Ashley LeClair
165. Kismet A.L. Lowrie
166. Devra Buhler
167. Michelle Frey
168. Karla Willekes
169. Emma Kivisild
170. shauna paull
171. Birgitte Saltorp
172. Ashley Pankiw
173. Penny J Thompson
174. Lily Shinde
175. Regina Henry
176. Amy Gottlieb
177. Janet Lumb
178. Michelle Chimenti
179. Penny Pattison
180. Brian J Melady
181. Fran Sugar
182. Pamela Cross
183. Emily Hill
184. Nancy Stirling
185. Toni Pickard
186. Erin Bellavance
187. Kathy Ferreira
188. Paul Quick
189. Nancy Brar
190. Allan Antliff
191. Su Donovaro
192. Julia Paulson
193. Donna-lee Iffla
194. Vicki Ryckman
195. Margaret Little
196. Leona Wiens
197. Randi Kennedy
198. Diana Davis Duerkop
199. Marg Yeo
200. Celeste Martin
201. Brigid Hayes
202. Jacqui Robichaud
203. Michele Dore
204. Kathryn Londry
205. L Jordy Carr
206. Jo Truscott
207. Christine corbeil
208. Nancy Van Styvendale
209. Chloe Taylor
210. Laura Macfehin
211. Eli Meyerhoff
212. Julie Guenther
213. Axelle Karera
214. Rebecca Anweiler
215. Madeleine Nerenberg
216. Noah Brender
217. Ayten Gundogdu
218. Stacey Colliver
219. Naeimeh Shakoori
220. Amber Rayner
221. Karen Connon
222.        Brett Truscott-Arthur
223.        Douglas Morren
224.        Kim Moore

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