Unconditional was inspired by the experiences of my grandmother, whose youngest son has been in and out of prison for several years. This project aims to provide a voice to women whose stories are often silenced. I entered into this project interested in exploring the disenfranchised grief mothers experience when they lose their children to the prison system. However, over the course of the last year and a half, I have learned about many other feelings and difficulties facing mothers whose children are incarcerated. I was shocked by the systemic issues that make having a child on the inside superfluously difficult, from the condemning procedures required to be processed before a visit, to the unspeakable conditions of some Canadian prisons, to the to the debilitating financial costs of defending your child and maintaining a relationship with them. The women I spoke with have been blamed for the actions of their children– sometimes even by said child– and yet every woman I met while working on this project (even those not featured in the final product) have invested unimaginable resources into maintaining a meaningful relationship with their child. A mother’s love is unparalleled and, truly, unconditional.
Unconditional was produced in the Documentary Media Program (MFA), Ryerson University, 2017
Annalise Nielsen is a multi-media artist whose work focuses on human experiences and social rights issues. She received her BAH from Queen’s University in 2015 with a major in Film and a minor in Psychology. Annalise uses the skills and knowledge gained from this combined degree to explore untold stories and encourage audiences to analyze issues from a new perspective.
You can find more of her work at www.annalisenielsen.com.
If you are a family member to an incarcerated person and you are looking for resources, please consider:
Canadian Families and Corrections Network
Mothers Offering Mutual Support (Ottawa)
The John Howard Society of Canada
Unconditional was made possible thanks to a number of dedicated and supportive people.
Special thanks to: