Social change occurs at the intersection of talent and ability. The upcoming Justice for Errol Benefit Show, a showcase of bands coming together to support prison abolition, exemplifies this.
“Everybody has something to offer. We had connections in the music scene, and this was something we could utilize to raise funds,” Wren Robertson says. Robertson takes part in organizing rallies and fundraisers for the Justice for Errol campaign.
The movement began in response to a 2016 incident at the Winnipeg Remand Centre (WRC), where epilepsy medication was withheld from 26-year-old Errol Greene. Greene passed away after a series of seizures, during which he was allegedly restrained by the guards.
Greene’s family and members of the community have banded together in an appeal for justice from the WRC. They are currently suing the Government of Manitoba over Greene’s treatment and death.
Meetings for the Justice for Errol campaign often tackle how to raise money, both for legal fees associated with the case and to help support Greene’s widow and child.
“We have to think: what are our talents and how can we use them to help with this cause?” Robertson says.
After the success of their first show, the group connected with Real Love to collaborate for the second.
“We’ve been trying to reach out to people that have a huge range of different things to offer: different backgrounds, different reasons they’re involved,” Robertson explains. They believe that that the strength of the movement lies in the diversity of the group.
The show, which takes place at the West End Cultural Centre on Oct. 3, includes headliner John K. Samson, as well as Mulligrub and Well Sister.
“As musicians, we have access to a lot of resources people don’t have, and it’s not very hard for us to do something like this,” Kelly Campbell, singer and guitarist of Mulligrub, says. “I think it’s something more artists should do.”
Campbell also created the drawing that became the face of the movement. They explain that people should use their resources for social justice and utilize the resources they have that others may not possess.
“We have instruments, we have a platform, and we have people who will come see us play,” Mulligrub drummer J Riley Hill says.
“Everyone has something they can contribute to help with a cause, as long as the cause is important to them,” Robertson says.
For instance, Rebel Waltz Tattoo hosted a fundraiser on Sept. 22. Walk-ins chose from four designs for tattoos, and the artists donated the proceeds to the campaign.
Robertson stresses that change will not occur as a single movement by people with one political ideology.
“You can’t exact big-scale social change with a bunch of people that think exactly the same,” they say.
Members of Mulligrub agree that the show has nothing to do with personal benefits for the band.
“We think it’s an important cause to support,” Campbell says.
The Justice for Errol Benefit Show takes place at the West End Cultural Centre on Oct. 3. Tickets are $20 at Music Trader, the West End Cultural Centre and online at ticketfly.com.
Published in Volume 72, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 28, 2017)