Innocents Behind Bars: Systemic Racism and Wrongful Convictions

Join a panel discussion bringing attention to wrongful convictions, and the intersections of racism and colonialism

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

This event has passed.

An simple illustration of a white hummingbird picking the lock of a door and opening it. The door is in a row of doors. Partially obscured.

By: Peter Collins

Event details

MTS Classroom, Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Language and Accessibility:
This event will be presented in English. ASL interpretation will be available.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Centre for Human Rights Research (University of Manitoba), and the Faculty of Law (University of Manitoba) co‐organized and sponsored a public event on November 28, 2023, called “Innocents Behind Bars: Systemic Racism and Wrongful Convictions.” There were over 125 people in attendance, as well as 25 people joining online.

This event was inspired by the July 2023 release of Allan Woodhouse and Brian Anderson, who were wrongfully imprisoned for a murder they did not commit and spent almost 50 years fighting to clear their names. Brian Anderson and members of his family were in attendance and Allan Woodhouse was able to join virtually.

Here is a graphic representation, created by Kara Sievewright, capturing highlights of the event:

Shades of blue-green and orange feature text and graphics capturing a panel event called “Innocents Behind Bars: Systemic Racism and Wrongful Convictions,” from November 2023. There are prison bars and the flow of rivers found in both Winnipeg and Chicago. There are drawings of the speakers, including the Elder who opened the event and the facilitator. There are quotes and text that highlight how the justice systems perpetuate injustice and systemic racism.

The panel, facilitated by Dr. Niigaan Sinclair (Indigenous Studies, University of Manitoba), brought leaders of the police torture justice/reparations movement in Chicago in conversation with those working on demanding justice for Indigenous and racialized peoples wrongly imprisoned here in Canada.

Amanda Carling, CEO, BC First Nations Justice Council

James Lockyer, Founding Director, Innocence Canada

Alice Kim, Director of Human Rights Practice, Centre for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, University of Chicago

Gregory Banks, Safety Coordinator for the Chicago Torture Justice Center and torture survivor (who joined virtually).

This is a full recording of the event including the question‐and‐answer period.

Video: Innocence Behind Bars: A public panel discussion on systemic racism and wrongful convictions

We hope this event will encourage a rethinking about the intersections of racism, policing, wrongful convictions and the prison system throughout Turtle Island, and urge us to consider alternatives to how we understand safety and justice for all.

The art featured in this event poster is titled “Hummingbird” (2015), and is an unfinished painting by Peter Collins, that he was working on in the final days of his life. Peter Collins was a Canadian artist and activist who was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 22. During his time various prisons around Kingston, Ontario, Peter was an ardent activist for those living with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in prisons. He was a tireless advocate for reform calling attention to systemic racism and injustice, both inside and outside the prison environment, through his artwork and writings. Denied compassionate leave to spend the end of his life with friends and family, Peter died in prison at the age of 53. For more about Peter and his art, please see Lockdown Galleries: Art and Voice of Peter Collins.

© Robert Collins

Wrongful convictions and systemic racism

In this guide, you will find links to resources related to wrongful convictions and the impact of systemic racism and discrimination on the justice systems in settler colonial contexts such as Canada, the United States and other countries around the world.

An simple illustration of a white hummingbird picking the lock of a door and opening it. The door is in a row of doors.