Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson, 75, who is a long-time anti-poverty advocate and currently a Vancouver city councillor, was sentence to jail time.
Swanson had never been arrested. She spoke to the Star the morning after her release, “thrilled” to wake up in her own bed.
“The mattresses in the jail are about an inch thick and covered in plastic. I managed to get two of them, but it was still really painful to sleep,” Swanson said. “We were so profoundly affected by the beauty and generosity of the prisoners … For me, it was a choice, for them it was not.”
She said inmates showed the protesters how things worked at the facility, shared their toiletries and even made them beaded bracelets.
Swanson sat in court on July 30 when the crown prosecutor argued conditional sentences were not enough deterrence for older protesters, who had been the ones repeatedly violating the injunction. The prosecutor said these activists had made a “particularly sinister challenge to the court’s authority.” That’s when protesters started being sentenced to serve time.
Swanson subsequently posted a photo captioned “sinister seniors” on Facebook, which earned more than a 1,000 shares.
“Sinister seniors” are taking up the cause because it’s practical, Swanson said. “Seniors don’t have jobs or young children. We are really worried about our grandkids and climate change,” she explained. “A lot of the seniors getting arrested are people who have a history working for justice.”
And they will not be deterred, Swanson said.
Jean is a representative for the people. She works hard to take back City Hall from developers and big money interests. She has worked for decades to eliminate poverty and to secure affordable housing for all.
She is an incorruptible voice widely respected across the city who will have the support of youth, seniors, working and poor people.