An Urgent Appeal for Adam Capay
Meet Ojibwe youth Adam Capay. Between 2012 and 2016, Adam spent more than 50 consecutive months in solitary confinement in the provincial jail in Thunder Bay. Anything more than 15 days in solitary is torture under international human rights law. Now, six years later, after unfathomable delays and mistreatment, Adam's hearings will FINALLY get underway in Thunder Bay on March 12th.
You can bring some kindness to Adam Capay with your donation. The photo above was taken by his sister Alison during a visit. His face tells how good he felt seeing her. * Alison, a strong and dynamic young woman, who is the family member closest in age to Adam, has agreed to work with our group as Treasurer for this fund. She will be tracking where your donations go.
The names of the individuals change, but Canada's failure to ensure a justice system that is fair to Indigenous people is a huge impediment to any real "reconciliation". One reason it has taken so long to get Adam's situation resolved is that his first lawyer challenged the court on the bias of a jury drawn from the pool used in Thunder Bay. Of course, it took a while for this challenge to be mounted, heard and dismissed by the court. Because this same issue has been in the news lately in regards to Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine, we now see even the Federal Minister of Justice agreeing that jury selection can be a big problem that seriously affects Indigenous prisoners.
All funds will go directly to help his family be better connected with Adam. He is from the Kejick Bay community. Kejick is part of the Lac Seul Ojibwe First Nation, six hours drive north of Thunder Bay when the weather is good. The phone is a lifeline for Adam, and all calls from jails must be collect. In this case, they are also long-distance, which can mean up to $35 for a 20 minute call. In his current state. Adam reaches out for family support with more than one call per day. We are looking into alternative phone programs but they also come with a cost...
Your donation will help his family support him! His father, five siblings, mother, and other family members, are planning to be present to support him in the courtroom, but costs for travel, motels, parking fees in Thunder Bay, etc., add up quickly. Two weeks must be covered this month: starting March 12th and continuing through the week of March 19th. Adam also has costs we want to help with -- for example he wants a haircut before court starts.
We have been told and retold by Elders and Traditional Teachers that a huge piece of Adam's healing will come through strengthening positive, caring bonds between Adam and his family and community. Please share this appeal on all your social media. No amount is too small. Chi Miigwetch. Wela’liek. Thank You. Merci Beaucoup.
Adam Capay’s Story:
In February 2012, when Adam Capay was 18 or 19 years old, he went to adult jail on a breach of conditions as well as a minor charge. Events occured in the jail subsequent to his arrival there, some of which are included in this blog or the reports referenced in it. There is a publication ban in place, and some details that were previously in the media seem to have been removed.
In November 2016, Adam Capay's name was all over the news for a few weeks. At that point, Adam had spent almost 1600 days in solitary, or as prison management calls it, “administrative segregation.” Adam was held at the dilapidated, understaffed and troubled Thunder Bay District Jail, in a plexiglass 5'x10' cell on a windowless floor where overhead lights were left on 24 hours per day.
The public learned about this after Renu Mandhane, head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, was introduced to Adam by a brave OPSEU employee during her routine check-in visit at the institution. Adam bore evidence of considerable physical self-harming activity on his wrists and scalp, and had great difficulty speaking to Mandhane, appeared to be “drifting in and out of consciousness.” Reports said he was constantly hungry.
During those 1600 days, he got out into the yard only once or twice a month. He had almost no contact with anyone. He was being held far from his home community so family and friend visits were very rare for cost reasons. Apparently Adam only saw a psychiatrist for a few minutes when the system needed authorization for his continued segregation, and the duration of his solitary confinement was drastically under-reported to higher authorities.
The trauma this treatment caused cannot be understated. As we approach six years since the incident that led to Adam’s cruel confinement, his Charter rights and his human rights have both been severely violated. Adam is still not receiving the institutional support due to him.
The Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians strongly condemns Adam’s treatment at the hands of authorities, and launched this funding appeal because we want to be among those advocating for Adam. All funds raised, minus the small percentage that gofundme asks, go DIRECTLY to his family for travel and lodging costs, to be with him during the trial. Our chapter is interested in hearing from others in Canada who are advocating for an end to extended stays in solitary confinement.
The new album The Promise of Strangers, by the band The Fugitives, includes this song dedicated to Adam Capay as Track #11, the closing number:
* By the way, at the present time, Alison is not allowed in to visit Adam because she took this photo and somehow, not her doing, it ended up in the media. (CBC and others have used it.) As she is the closest in the family to Adam, we are also working to have her right to visit reinstated. Given that Adam is Indigenous and all the ways this is relevant to his situation, as well as the brutal treatment he has experienced in the system, it seems even more cruel that the family member with whom he is closest is not allowed to visit him. Stay tuned for more on this matter...
There was supposed to be a court decision this past Spring on whether he should be released, due to the cruel and unusual treatment of being held in solitary for more than four years. That decision continues to be delayed.
Here is what I can tell you. I gather Adam is supposedly being held in a provincial institution that is so far from his home his family and friends cannot visit him. The details of his current location and other matters is "top-secret." My guess is that is because those responsible for driving him crazy -- which is various officials and staff within the government of Ontario -- don't want it to be a public matter how damaged Adam is due to the 50+ months straight of solitary incarceration.
Specifically, I wonder if the reason for the delay of the court decision is because the Provincial Crown and/or Solicitor General do not want the media to report exactly how damaged Adam has been. I have no proof or inside knowledge that this is what is holding things up. Also, there is the matter of pending court matters from others who have experienced extended solitary. Possibly there are concerns about setting precedents for the others via a decision in Adam's case. All of this shows no regard for the human beings at the centre of this horror. Resolution is needed for everyone.
Adam apparently had behaviour and substance issues to begin with, which ended him up in jail. But once he got into the provincial jail, as a youth, it seems he was bullied by older prisoners (according to the online story I read about him being forced to eat a big bug by 8 prisoners), and then there was the outrageous horrendous length of time he was locked up alone in a cell after the death of one of those prisoners. I have no comment to make on his original charge of having killed someone on the evening after what I read was the bug-eating event. Just remember, he was only 18 or so when this all happened, and had lived his whole life on the Lac Seul reserve.
All the behaviours and evidence that the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner saw in Adam, when she was alerted to his situation almost two years ago, are actually the norm for anyone held for a long time in solitary. These include hurting himself, disorientation, losing capacity to communicate and socialize, extreme disturbances due to 24/7 light in his cell, suicidal ideation, etc. In Adam's case, he was held in solitary for so incredibly long that it will probably take a long time for him to come back from that.
I do continue to passionately feel that it is a HUGE issue of human rights violation to endure solitary confinement of such an extended period, especially when we know that systemic violations in procedure occurred that allowed this to happen.
If you have any small amount of $ that you can contribute to this gofundme so that his sister Alison can transfer the funds to his canteen, that would be appreciated and I am sure Adam will feel the caring. Perhaps this will help with some healing for him.
We have now raised more than $3500 towards our campaign goal of $5000. Please consider sharing the Appeal on your FB page or Twitter account ONE MORE TIME, and asking your friends and contacts to share it too.
I will have limited access to the internet over the next few weeks, so I am counting on you all to help keep this circulating. Chi Miigwetch! For justice, dignity, respect and healing -- Ann Pohl
Big news: Adam's hearing starts tomorrow, March 12th and is expected to run 2 weeks... More dates will follow. With dates lined up, expenses will also start seriously rolling in: there is always the phone bills, but now as well the cost of the extended family staying in Thunder Bay to be present at court. Supporting the connection between Adam and his family (2 of 5 siblings shown here) is one important way to build healing all around.
Alison has agreed to be the Treasurer for this fund, managing withdrawals and keeping track of where the $ go, if donors want to know.
PLEASE SHARE THIS TO ALL FRIENDS on FB, Twitter, email, and ask them to share again/retweet. With your help we can reach our fundraising goal soon! Merci, Thanks, Wela'liek, Chi Miigwetch.