HuffPost Canada closed in 2021 and this site is maintained as an online archive. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact support@huffpost.com.

Ashley Smith

Legislation may better protect prisoners with mental illness.
It seems obvious that solitary confinement for someone with mental health issues is dangerous and destructive. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has long held that placing vulnerable individuals in solitary confinement denies them their human rights, and for those with mental health issues, it can lead to irreparable harm.
Prison policy experts are urging the federal government to act fast on a promise to limit solitary confinement behind bars
How many people have to die alone in a jail cell, with only their troubled thoughts for company, before we demand an end to grave human rights abuses happening in our prisons? Edward Snowshoe is the latest casualty in a systemic practice that killed Ashley Smith, and likely contributed to the death of Kinew James as well. Edward, Ashley and Kinew were all prisoners with serious mental health issues who were segregated for extended periods of time by the Correctional Service of Canada. Edward Snowshoe died under the very conditions that the UN found amounted to violate the Torture Convention.
It is the stigma, the shame and prejudice attached to the phrase "mental illness" that keeps people from accessing care. Mental illness is not in the mind; it is in the brain. Changing the name from "mental" to brain illness can be the beginning of a change in attitude towards those of us with these illnesses.
I have tried to avoid looking at pictures of the treatment of Ashley Smith from still photos to videos. But, it is wrong to look away for my own sake. It is wrong for any of us to look away for our own sake. . We need to see it so that we never let our government treat the mentally ill as "lesser than."
Just before our recent over-sentimental overindulgence in gifts, food, drink and religion, the Star came out with a massive two-page spread titled "A Culture of Secrecy." It's a splendid rebuttal to the myth spreading through our culture that newspapers like the Star are doomed.
No one can control what events will shape our world in any given time period. But collectively we can choose what stories we allow to shape our memory. That's why murderer Luka Magnotta was the wrong person for the Canadian Press to choose as Canada's 2012 Newsmaker of the Year.
Lawyers for Corrections Canada have told Ashley Smith's family they are dropping their challenge to the scope of an Ontario
Videos of teenager Ashley Smith taken in the months before she died in a prison cell show the teen was subjected to “degrading