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"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere …” | Martin Luther King Jr. 

Events

You Can't Break My Spirit: The Colors of Justice is a play written by Equal Justice Canada staff and adapted into a Play by Equal Justice Canada and Donna Michelle Bernard. You Can't Break My Spirit is about creating Love, Peace and Victory in the midst of challenges. A young brown woman goes undercover into the Toronto Justice system so she can understand the experience of the people she serves in her missionary work. She expects to be released from jail after one night but instead is trapped in a system that will only release you if you plead guilty or have tens of thousands of dollars to pay lawyers who are experts in their field and are well connected. The faces around her are vulnerable and aggressive souls who have given up on any possibility of having a normal life, people who have lost everything; casually sacrificing their souls for momentary freedom and who are trapped in a cycle that seeks to destroy them. The protagonist encounters dishonesty, systemic and overt racism, politics, and injustices within the legal system and finally uncovers a system that does not work at every level. As she searches for solutions she finds the true meaning of love, courage and dignity. Her bravery, determination and persistent faith at every step of the journey is finally rewarded after spending two hundred thousand dollars and fighting for the freedom to live her life on her terms.

Opening on Thursday February 1, 2018. You Can't Break My Spirit is suitable for 10 years old and up. No swearing, no sexual content and no violence.

Youth Rehabilitation Pilot

Equal Justice Canada has been operating a pilot Youth Rehabilitation Centre in Thunder Bay since September 29, 2017. The concept and mandate were created by Equal Justice Canada Staff who felt that the criminal justice system and some of the Crown Attorneys may at times be too focused on keeping people trapped in the criminal justice system instead of seeking to find ways to rehabilitate and make it possible for accused individuals to become contributing and positive members of society.

The pilot rehabilitation Youth Program's mandate is to rehabilitate, reintegrate and stabilize first time youth offenders who are being released or have been released from youth and adult prisons. The goal is to ensure the wellbeing, support systems, continuing education, and employment for these youth and young adults so they stay out of the criminal justice system.

The first 25 youth in the program will be assessed and released from the Youth Rehabilitation Centre in Thunder Bay on December 20, 2017.


REVIEW of June 13, 2018 "You Can't Break My Spirit: The Colours of Justice" play at Artscape in Toronto, Ontario

by Margot Van Sluytman
For Equal Justice Canada
Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

"Why is the justice system so mean?"

This was one of the many poignant questions from an audience member sitting at ArtSpace on a warm Tuesday afternoon Toronto. That audience was a roomful of students, aged 11-13, their teachers, the lighting crew of one, the stage director.

As I sat in the balcony looking on and listening to the words flow from the actors on the stage, I was catapulted back, back, back, to when I as a sixteen year old girl, whose sisters were nine and eighteen, and whose brother was five, found out about the murder of our Father at a store in Toronto, forty years ago.

What questions might we have asked? And, I wondered at the richness of the fact that the children in that audience were offered such a rich opportunity, particularly at a time when retribution appears to be trumping resilience and reconciliation. If respect.

The gifted actors took us, an enraptured audience, into Canada's Court System, where judges, crown, duty counsel, lawyers, wardens, and young, young women tangled in an, at times, horrific dance of (in)justice. Sitting in a small, smelly, cell with four female inmates, listening to their stories of what got them into that cell, meant being thrown into a mad-making-machine of menace and woe. Of callousness. Of dread. And, of learning with them that our spirits are solid, sound, and will not, easily be broken.

Through the eyes of Mrs. Oaks, the main character, who experienced horrendous racism, sexism, and banal brutality, the young audience reacted and responded to the visceral injustice of the ill-treatment of the inmates. And, when I held on to the mic and said,"Even a victim of brutal crime does not support any form of injustice, brutality, and sexism in Canada's prison system," explaining that as a young person my family was a victim of crime, the audience applauded. And applauded.

I was moved to tears, because what was clear me, was that those young people understood, in large part because of the exquisite script and acting in, You Can't Break My Spirit: The Colours of Justice, the importance of their voices, their choices, and their capacity to be a part of challenging and changing Canada’s Justice System.