The bride wore a ribbon skirt and the lifer sported a big grin.
“I shed a little tear,” admitted Bronson Gordon after exchanging vows with Sherri Maier (now Gordon) at a federal prison in Saskatoon.
“She looked absolutely beautiful. She just melted my heart.”
Gordon, a member of Pasqua First Nation northeast of Regina, was convicted alongside two other gang members in 2018 of murdering a rival drug dealer in 2015.
He married Maier, a prisoner advocate, at the Saskatoon Regional Psychiatric Centre on June 23, which was also his 39th birthday.
“I didn’t expect the warden to come, so that was pretty big,” said an excited Maier, 42, following the outdoor ceremony.
“We started out as friends and it kind of grew. He kind of chased me for a while before I came to my senses. He makes me a better person.”
The prison warden, assistant warden, chaplain, Gordon’s parole officer, treatment team and other inmates were also in attendance.
“Right now, we have an LGBTQ inmate, who’s Indigenous, who’s drumming in the background,” said Gordon. “It’s really beautiful.
“The sun’s out. It’s just a really beautiful day.”
Bronson Gordon (second from left) and Sherri Maier (second from right) with their best man and maid of honour. Photo: Submitted.
The newlyweds spoke to APTN News by phone following the nuptials.
They had invited APTN to attend in person but the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) turned down the request. CSC did arrange for a reporter to listen the proceedings on a cellphone.
Maier said her traditional First Nations ribbon skirt was a last-minute decision after her custom-ordered wedding dress from an Indigenous designer did not arrive on time.
Her fancy wedding cake was also abandoned after Maier said the CSC refused to let her bring it in after approving it.
“We get a simple cake but it’s all good,” she added.
Even getting to the church, er, prison on time was a question mark.
“I have to go through security and go through the dog sniffing me and my bags …,” she explained. “They take some time going through the bags having to write everything in the bag down. Then I have to go change.
“Some people have criticized [me] about it. [Saying,] ‘Really? Do you really want to [marry him]?’ Yeah, I do, because he’s not going to be here forever. He’ll be home soon.
“I believe that. He believes that.”
With a Bachelor’s degree in Human Justice, experience working for a lawyer, and founding Beyond Prison Walls Canada, Maier plans to help her husband overturn his “wrongful” first-degree murder conviction.
The victim, an Indigenous man named Reno Lee, died a “gruesome” death, according to one of the judges who denied Gordon’s conviction appeal in 2020.
“Mr. Lee was kidnapped and held by armed men for several hours,” Justice Jeffery Kalmakoff said in the appeal decision. “His hands and feet were bound with duct tape and zip ties. He was shot twice in the head, at close range, with a small-caliber firearm. After that, a handsaw was used to decapitate and dismember his body. The body parts were transported and disposed of approximately an hour’s drive to the east of the city [on Star Blanket First Nation].”
Gordon is a maximum-security prisoner. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
He has so far served time in the Saskatchewan Penitentiary, Edmonton Institution, Grand Cache in western Alberta, and now the Saskatoon Regional Psychiatric Centre.
“They absolutely [did] not put shackles on me” during the wedding, said Gordon, who wore a suit Maier brought in.
The tungsten rings they share glow in the dark.
“I know it’s rare that there is good pointed out about prisons,” said Maier, “but despite that, this institution has been so good to us in regards to our wedding.
“Weddings in prison are not common,” she added. “Ones like this are rare, so I thought I’d share some good news.”
The clinical name for people (usually women) who fall in love with killers is hybristophilia.
Maier doesn’t know about that, but she packs up and moves to a new city every time Gordon is transferred to another prison.
She says they met when Gordon contacted her for help while on remand in the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. Turns out they had mutual friends and already knew each other from Regina.
How many times a connection like that would lead to marriage is unknown. A spokesperson for the CSC says national data on prison weddings isn’t available.