Release: Jeannette Tossounian to Receive the 2017 OCLA Civil Liberties Award

(Ottawa, October 16, 2017) — The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) will present its 2017 Civil Liberties Award to Jeannette Tossounian at a public event in Ottawa, Ontario, on Friday October 27 (7pm, PSAC building, 233 Gilmour St., Ottawa, Ontario).

Senator Kim Pate, defender of women prisoners’ rights, will introduce the award recipient.

Ms. Tossounian will speak about her work and life experience related to civil rights and liberties, followed by a question-answer and discussion period open to the participating public.

Jeannette Tossounian is a life-long artist, author, and an authentic and dedicated defender of civil rights. She was self-represented and was wrongly convicted in a trial in which the Crown violated its disclosure obligations (see 2017 appeal decision, link here). She spent
two years in harsh conditions in an Ontario jail for women. She was put into solitary confinement for defending her prisoner’s civil right not to be forced to wear a bra. Her 2016 book The Human Kennel, which was written in jail, is a compelling and incisive examination of inner and institutional life behind bars. This quote illustrates Ms. Tossounian’s spirit:

“I doubt I’ll make parole, I’m not into submitting to a corrupt unjust system and telling them what a bad person I have been and how much I’ve changed for the better thanks to my incarceration. … I still have my mind and won’t lose what is inside of me.”

Her continued revelations and commentary are helping to reform police and prison practices in the province.

Past recipients of the OCLA Civil Liberties Award were Harry Kopyto (2013), Terri-Jean Bedford (2014), Connie Fournier (2015), and Bruce Allan Clark (2016).

The OCLA thus co-celebrates its five-year anniversary and hopes the free public event will be an occasion for meetings and discussions on these vital issues.

Award page, updated regularly:
Facebook event:

About the OCLA

The OCLA vigorously advocates for authentic and unqualified freedom of expression of individuals, on all topics and in every form, in accordance with the right to free expression enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The OCLA also advocates for
unimpeded civil liberties and civil rights of all persons, in dealings with public and private institutions and corporations.

The OCLA is not affiliated with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) or the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA). All three associations are separate and distinct.


Joseph Hickey
Executive Director
Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA)
613-252-6148 (c)

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