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Answering Adversity

Christos Spentzos, Team Toronto
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My family moved to Greece when I was two weeks old. By the time I returned to Canada in my teens, I had become accustomed to living within a system full of government corruption. My father’s favorite expression was always,”While the Greeks were giving birth to civilization and democracy, the Germans were eating their fathers, and now the opposite is true.” In comparison, Canada seemed to me to be the land of fairness, transparency, and opportunity.

In the last couple of years I have started to think differently. When I found out about the closing of the prison farms across Canada I was puzzled. Why was the government closing them down? Their reasons did not make sense. Sure, most prisoners don’t go into agriculture after being released, but what about the benefits the farms have for prisoner rehabilitation, for the farming community, and for the country? Is it bad that prisoners are less likely to re-offend after learning to care for animals? Is free labour bad? Is it not beneficial that they make their own food, saving taxpayer’s money? Is it bad to keep food local?

I arm myself with a medium-format Hasselblad 500c/m camera and confront a government with its hands covering its ears, like a kid who doesn’t want to listen to reason, shouting, “it’s my way or the highway.” Save Our Prison Farms’ organization forms human roadblocks to stand up against livestock trucks carrying 300 purebred Holstein dairy cattle and 8,000 chickens off to auction. The battle is lost but not the war. A new banner is raised: “Restore Our Prison Farms.” The whole community pools its money and buys back as much of the herd as it can. Together a new beginning is captured. The first of many calves is saved, and they call her Hope.

© Christos Spentzos
All images in this article © Christos Spentzos

© Christos Spentzos

© Christos Spentzos