Here is the truth on Javan Nsangira:
Javan is a 22yr old International student from Congo, a french speaking country in Africa. He is a shy kid that loves FC Barcelona, COD, and uncharted. Like many young Africans in 2020 Burna Boy is his favourite artist. He doesn’t do boyish banter much, he is known to be laid back, shy, and quiet.
He is supposed to be going into his 3rd year at UPEI.
Javan is the first person to be jailed due to Covid in Canada. The 2nd person to have his name and health information illegally released. The other person was also a Black immigrant, a doctor in New Brunswick. 5th Estate is proving that NB did fail Dr. Ngola by wrongfully sharing his private information and risking an innocent man's life. It seems like the Island wants to do the same to Javan or worse.
Javan has been struggling with his mental health, 2020 has been a tough year for everyone but for a kid stuck in a foreign country during a global pandemic, that anxiety hits a little bit different. He did reach out for help.
His brother came to Canada from the US to visit him. He tested positive and had to quarantine in NS. Javan returned to the Island and proceeded to do his mandatory travel isolation.
Why did NS allow Javan to travel back after being in contact with his brother that tested positive?
Did they inform Island health officials?
Close to the end of his 14 days the bubble opened and a health officer informed Javan the bubble was open, he didn't need to do the travel isolation anymore. He left his quarantine without knowing he was Covid positive. Once he found out he had Covid, he was asked to remain where he was at his friend’s house. Even though Javan has his own apartment he was specifically asked to stay put where he was. He stayed for 11 days.
Imagine the tension of having an unexpected guest for 14 days in your house. Now take into consideration his mental health was not okay. The one familiar person he was about to have access to had just been taken away and he couldn’t even go back to his own apartment. That is alot for anyone. But for Javan, he is 22, in a mental health crisis and alone in a foreign country.
On the 11th day, a call to the police was made. The call was for domestic violence. This behaviour was unusual for Javan. It was a direct result of his mental health. His friend repeated over and over that Javan needed help. Javan had not slept for five days. Instead the police charged him and took him to Brudenell, not jail.
Brudenell is a facility that is housing migrant workers doing their travel isolation. Javan is not a migrant worker, and if he was considered a violent threat, why was he taken to Brudenell? If he was so violent, why were the police okay with leaving him with migrant workers? Why was he taken there while positive? Someone in a mental health crisis goes to hospital, not a migrant facility. A violent criminal goes to jail, not a migrant facility.
On his 14th (final) day of isolation in his room at the facility. Javan stepped out for air.
FOR AIR. TO BREATHE.
When security confronted him, he said if he were to go back inside, He would die. The police showed up again.
To A MENTAL HEALTH CALL.
There's a problematic pattern here.
Javan was arrested.
This is where local Islander’s racism comes in the assumption that Javan spat on an officer. This did not happen. Javan never spit on an officer. This comes from the Island’s deep rooted racism and how white people view Blackness as diseased.
Here's my friend Desmond Cole spitting facts:
We’ve seen this kind of racist scapegoating of Black people during the COVID-19 pandemic, and long before it. We saw it in Ottawa when a by-law officer assaulted Obi Ifedi in front of his daughter in a public park in April. The officer, who was ultimately fired, also issued Ifedi over $2,000 for walking through a public park. Long before COVID-19, police and public officials have justified their violence towards Black people by treating our bodies as sites of illness. In September of 2017 a Toronto bus driver assaulted Joseph Kau, then falsely claimed Kau spat on him. Earlier that same year, a Toronto police officer tried to intimidate a civilian who was filming the police’s assault of a Black man. The officer told Waseem Khan, who was recording the assault, that the man police were beating was “going to spit in your face and you're going to get AIDS.”
The white Canadian imagination portrays Black people as inherently diseased, and describes us as having the intent to infect the white majority. Javan Nsangira is also being scapegoated for COVID-19 in PEI. The police took him to a facility for migrant farm workers after claiming he was a danger to the public—their actions expose a familiar set of racist assumptions about disease and public safety.
Let’s not forget that Javan did all his communication in english until now. Kudos to him because Covid information is complex to me as a primary english speaker, I can’t imagine receiving it in french and having to use mediocre immersion french to understand medical information.
When afraid even I an english speaker of over 30 yrs resorts to my primary language, Javan, when faced with police again while in crisis and afraid, chose to converse in his primary language, french. There were no officers present that spoke french. Javan should have received medical and professional help, including police in his primary language. french.
Javan was trying to communicate that he was Covid positive and the police saw his Blackness as a threat.
He was then charged with uttering threats. Javan did not threaten the officers, his Black skin was enough to criminalize him. He was trying to warn them, to protect them. Instead on his final day of quarantine in Brudenell, Javan was arrested.
Two isolations would drive anyone mad. Most of us were struggling with staying home in the Spring and we had access to the outdoors. 38% of Canadians say their mental health has declined due to Covid according to CMHA.
Now he was onto his third quarantine. This time in prison. He was put in isolation. Even though he had just completed a 14 day quarantine.
When Javan went to prison, he was not contagious. They chose to isolate him again further impacting his mental health. Why was Javan thrown in prison for a mental health crisis? It's because Canada, like the US, criminalizes Blackness.
On August 26th 2020, the CBC reported that there was a lack of beds in Island prisons and Covid made the process of sending folx to prison more complex. Provincial jails across Canada also released inmates due to Covid.
Why was it so easy to throw Javan in jail?
Why is the justice system so bent on imprisoning Javan?
Because he is Black.
Javan is likely the most polarized issue the Island has had in a long time. It’s extra heated because it brings out the Island’s intersections of xenophobia, anti-Blackness and systemic racism. The complexity of the story makes it have to be told from the ground. The Island has a long history of anti-Blackness, like Nova Scotia we too had a Black community, the difference is no one really knows what happened to them.
We recently saw the Island’s xenophobia on display during Covid and the “bubble” anxiety Islanders had. Even Immigrants became xenophobic. When it comes to systemic racism, the Island cannot recognize violent, blatant racism, how do we expect them to understand systemic racism? A more complicated, long, old and ongoing struggle that white society pretends doesn't exist.
Remember we are also rural. The US has Florida, Canada has PEI
A lot of this language is going over many peoples heads. Instead of learning critical thinking skills Islanders take the easy route and put absolute faith in authorities to make all the right and fair decisions. Specifically white Islanders, when it comes to police or any authority, critical thinking goes out the window.
So they gossip. Gossip enough to impact the crown.
When we came across this story, Javan was already in prison for over one month. He had spoken to his brother once. His brother had completed quarantine and was home. No one else has spoken to Javan other than his lawyers.
The reason all this information is being shared is because on this Island, it seems that the public is the judge and jury. It can be a good thing that Island values impact decision making. But what about when racist Island values influence the justice system? This is so heated that the premier's wife Janna chose to publicly criminalize Javan without knowing any of the details. Now that you know Janna, is this how you would want one of your children to be treated if they were in University in New Zealand? During a pandemic? Alone?
The crown prosecutor illegally released Javan's name. The fact that it was a foreign name was enough to trigger Island xenophobia. The fact that he is Black was enough to bring the racists with the death threats.
Systemic racism is now trying to destroy his life by painting the narrative of a dangerous Black man that was going to destroy the poor little white town. How many times has that narrative been used to ruin Black men's lives? As long as we are criminalized then we deserve whatever wrath white supremacy imposes on us?
Canadians are no different than Americans especially when it comes to racism. In PEI white supremacy might not kill Javan but the Island's racism will do everything to destroy his life. There are many people that should be held accountable for this.
As a favour, I will ask some of the critical questions Islanders should have been asking:
- Why is the crown releasing someone's name and health information illegally?
- Does the justice system here understand that police see Black men as inherently dangerous? Of course they felt threatened by a small, quiet 22yr old college student in a foreign country.
- Was the health information provided in his primary language?
- Why were there no police services in french?
- What role did Island media play in spreading a false narrative? Why did they share Javan’s name?
- Where is UPEI in all of this?
- What is UPEI doing to take care of youth that are far from home during a GLOBAL pandemic?
- Why isn’t public health acknowledging that they too messed up?
- Why was Javan taken to Brudenell instead of hospital?
- Why are police responding to mental health calls?
Most of all,
- Why is Javan still in jail?
If Javan’s charges cannot be dropped, at least release him. He has been through enough due to Canada’s poor mental health system, racist policing, and a small town that allows every tom, dick and janna on facebook to decide on a college student’s future.
Give him a chance to start to heal. He is not going far, travel restrictions are tight. He doesn't need to be in jail to proceed. There is no reason for Javan to be locked up any longer.
If you do try him, give him the right to a fair trial.
All those crucifying him should take into consideration all the ways Javan’s rights have been violated and bring experts on the inherent bias of police in Canada and how mental health is criminalized for Black people.
I asked an Islander with a background in criminology to weigh in, based on his lived and professional experience:
As a black islander that came as an international student and now holds a master of science degree in criminology, I know all too well the plight of black men being over-policed, and more likely to be arrested by law enforcement. This is intensified when we account for the intersectionality of black men that are living with mental illness are often criminalized, where their white counterparts receive empathy, compassion, and most importantly, treatment. Javan is no exception to this. The system is committing a grave injustice by jailing a black international student, who like many are having a difficult time coping during this pandemic. In times of crisis, it is often the most vulnerable populations that are forgotten and increasingly susceptible to discrimination. Javan is a testament to this, him being the first person in Canada to be jailed for breaking Covid-19 quarantine protocol. Javan is not the first person in Canada to break Covid-19 quarantine protocol, where others receive fines, a black international student received a sentence. As a nation that prides itself to be inclusive, for a province that prides itself for being friendly or neighbourly, is guilty of being complacent in this situation, instead of calling out this racist system. This is racism. #FreeJavan.
If Javan was not okay before this, we can only assume his mental health has deteriorated even more. After breaking Javan, this racist, xenophobic Island is considering deportation. They will ruin a Black man's life then send him back to his country, for them to deal with the aftermath.
What is Canada and PEI’s role in his aftercare? What responsibility does the Island have to this man’s mental health in the future?
An Island psychologist had this to add:
As I can see it Javan will face both mental health and social challenges as a result of how he has been mistreated by the PEI justice system. This experience is no doubt traumatizing for a young Black man living far from his family in a racist white majority country. Javan is highly likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which means he will experience depression, anxiety, fear of being persecuted again, distrust of people (especially white people), paranoia, and racing thoughts. PTSD has no cure, only management. He will live with it for the rest of his life. Not only will this mean that he will deal with emotional and psychological pain, his relationships with others will be impacted negatively due to distrust and paranoia. In addition, PTSD will most likely interfere in his daily activities, including school and work, making these simple everyday tasks more difficult for him. As a psychologist I have grave concerns for Javan’s mental health and social challenges in the future. He will need a great deal of support, both professional and personal, to manage the trauma.
After Chadwick’s passing, RIP King, I’ve thought a lot about purpose. Purpose is what Creator put us on earth to do. Our life mission. Part of my purpose is to tell the truth so a young man’s life is not destroyed by facebook juries. No matter how scary it is to tell it in a place as racist as this. A place where people who have no business judging Javan have been given hateful free reign by the crown.
Islanders have been fed lies and misinformation from the people supposed to “protect”. The justice system was never meant to protect people like me though, it was built to criminalize us. It is working exactly as it is supposed to. White PEI, you are fueling it. And failing a 22yr old African student.
We are also seeing part of Javan’s purpose play out in front of us. Javan’s situation highlights how PEI is failing us as a whole but even more so as BIPOC. It shows that PEI has a serious, vile, highly contagious disease on the rise. It was only a matter of time before PEI got a hashtag, luckily no one died. Is that what it will take to address systemic racism in PEI though? Does someone have to die or is Javan’s case enough for us to demand better? What does the future look like for an Island plagued by racism?
Finally, can we think about Black futures? In this instance, Javan is not dead. His future is at risk though and being determined by civilians on social media, Because Islanders would rather gossip than stand up to injustice. And that is Island morality in a nutshell. This has never been a gentle Island. It has been a sick Island for 150 years. Racism isn’t new here, which is why Javan is in this situation. Systemic racism has ravaged the Island for a long time.
However, now we know that there is no future(or tourism) in racism. I have no faith in Islanders, especially white ones. This will just be added to their mindless gossip. But for those of you that have read this and see the injustice across the country and further
Do the right thing by this kid.
Don’t let a racist redneck town destroy a Black 22 yr olds future.
Black lives matter but even more so,
Black futures matter.
An African King.