Free Community Activist Wendy Maxwell...

Nothing says International Women's Day in the city more than a couple hundred men and women out in the freezing cold rallying to save one woman's life. Plain and simple.

Today at noon at Ryerson University, supporters came out to rally for the release of activist Wendy Maxwell (aka. Nzinga) from police custody. Ms Maxwell was arrested on Saturday during the International Women's Day fair at R.U. while selling cookies to raise money for CKLN community radio (where she is a producer). She was then transferred into Immigration custody on a day specifically calling for an end to violence and discrimination against women internationally. She is now being held at the Vanier Centre/jail in Milton. Her crime? Living in Canada without Immigration status.

If the name sounds familiar, you may have come across Maxwell's work with a number of organizations including her extensive work as a producer for CKLN. She has also worked with the Latin American Coalition to end Violence Against Women (now called MUJER), the Barbara Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, the Ralph Thornton Community Centre as a network administrator's assistant, the Global African Congress, and as an outreach worker with the Black Coalition for Aids Prevention (BlackCAP). Her work is also being published in "A New Look at Heterosexism and Homophobia" being put out in collaboration with the McGill University for the Canadian Aids Society.

Community support for her plight stems not only from the incredible amount of community work she has done in this city but also from the knowledge of what she faces if forced back to her native Costa Rica.

Among other painful experiences, she was once picked up by the Costa Rican police, well known for racially profiling Black people, and sexually assaulted by them. She also faces risk as a bisexual woman from the police, whose homophobia is well documented. One Costa Rican research group states that "lesbian women are exhaustively searched in round-ups at clubs frequented by gays and lesbians and are also subject to aggression, physical abuse and robbery by the police who, in most cases, claim they were looking for drugs".

If you want to know more about the issue you can contact:
Stefanie Gude, Wendy Maxwell Support Committee, (647) 891-7691
Kristin Schwartz, News Director, CKLN Radio, (416) 595-5068

Supporters are also being urged to contact the Minister of Immigration, Joe Volpe, as he has the authority to intervene in any Immigration case and ask him to:

1) Grant WENDY MAXWELL a Temporary Resident's Permit so that she can
remain in Canada legally until her Humanitarian and Compassionate Leave application for permanent resident's status is decided upon (the application was filed in February of 2004 and has been in the system for over a year now).

2) Release Wendy Maxwell from custody immediately

In Toronto: (416) 781-5583 (p) (416)781-5586 (f)
In Ottawa: (613) 992-6361 (p) (613)992-9791 (f)

And finally, there is also an online petition at:

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