Oppose Dangerous Offender Designation for Indigenous Women


Renée Acoby, an Ojibwe woman from Manitoba, is currently facing the
Dangerous Offender application following a public hearing in
Kitchener. She was originally convicted ten years ago on a 3.5-year
sentence for trafficking cocaine and assault with a weapon. Pregnant
when imprisoned, her one-year-old was removed from her after she
smoked marijuana and took some valium one evening at an innovative
prison called the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge for Aboriginal women
(Maple Creek, Saskatchewan), which was itself under pressure to adhere
to government regulations.

What you know about me, poem by Renee

I don’t come from anywhere special
I’m not a “G” from any hood
Just an ordinary person that wrestles
With dilemmas, Bad or Good.

But you’re quick to claim
That you know who I am~
In reality you don’t give a damn.
You just want the Association
The media hype and greed
Of being linked to a diabolical seed~
To live vicariously through Renée
The alleged psychopath
To pave history, make or break~
Incur the system’s wrath.
The Judicial fight~
A living body, Agonized mentality
Out of reach,
Out of sight.

I don’t come from anywhere special
I’m not a “G” from any hood
Just an ordinary person that wrestles with who I am, Bad or Good.

In 2004, Renée was the first woman in Canada to be placed on the
Management Protocol (MP), a punitive system which involves prolonged
periods in solitary confinement. In 2005, the United Nations expressed
serious concerns about Canada’s treatment of women prisoners. In 2007,
the National Aboriginal Women’s Summit published a paper declaring
that the MP contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
and should be abolished immediately. At times, women are forbidden
access to pencil and paper, books, phone calls and visitation. All of
the time, they have little or no contact with family, no community
supports, little or no training for future employment, no sweat
lodges, no sustained contact with elders, no sweetgrass…

Currently, the four women on the MP are all Aboriginal women. Locked
up for 23 hours per day in cells approximately 8′ x 12′, with access
to an exercise yard of c.15 x 12 metres for the remaining hour, they
have very restricted physical outlet for pent-up emotion. Having been
on the Management Protocol longer than the other women (including the
ill-fated Ashley Smith), Renée Acoby has accumulated a 21-year
sentence from actions in jail. See “Life on the Installment Plan”, The
Walrus, March, 2010.

If designated a dangerous offender, Renée could receive an
indeterminate penitentiary sentence, which means that she is unlikely
ever to get out of prison and will be monitored, in any case, for the
rest of her life. Such designations were designed principally for male
sex offenders. Renée has never murdered or sexually abused anyone; her
child was stolen from her – a familiar story in the case of Canada’s
residential schools and prisons.
To protest Renée Acoby’s designation as a Dangerous Offender, you can
write to the Attorney General of Ontaraio:

The Honourable Chris Bentley
Attorney General of Ontario
McMurtry-Scott Building
720 Bay Street, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON
M7A 2S9

To oppose Renee’s placement under the management protocol or to demand
that community organizations and family be allowed to more freely
support Renee, please write:

The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8

Jennifer Oades
Deputy Commissioner of Women’s Corrections
National Headquarters
340 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0P9