Extra individuals might be part of ongoing starvation strike at Sask. girls’s jail, advocate says

A girl at a jail in Prince Albert, Sask., is constant her eight-week starvation strike to protest the therapy of incarcerated individuals there, in line with an advocate for inmates.

Religion Eagle is one among three girls at Pine Grove Correctional Centre refusing to eat, and extra inmates in Canadian establishments would possibly observe, in line with Sherri Maier, who advocates for individuals in custody and based the help group Past Jail Partitions Canada.

Maier stated she has heard about different individuals at services throughout the nation who plan to affix the starvation strike this weekend, together with at Regina Correctional Centre and on the Atlantic Establishment in Renous, N.B.

“It appears like we would be capable to have some prisoners out in Ontario jails … hopefully becoming a member of in, too,” she stated. “After which there’s individuals in the neighborhood.”

Maier plans to be one among them, whereas one other girl incarcerated on the Edmonton Establishment For Girls desires to start out a ceremonial quick this weekend, the advocate stated.

Maier beforehand stated she was contacted by Eagle, who’s in custody on the girls’s jail whereas she waits for a trial date, with considerations about alleged racism from some guards at Pine Grove, a scarcity of well timed entry to medical consideration and the standard of their consuming water. 

Monday will mark Week 8 of Eagle’s strike, Maier stated.

Sherri Maier, an advocate for individuals within the jail system, says different inmates throughout Canada would possibly be part of a gaggle of girls on a starvation strike at Pine Grove Correctional Centre. (Submitted by Sherri Maier)

“She feels there’s quite a lot of prejudice and discrimination there in opposition to the Indigenous girls,” stated Maier.

“Medical care has all the time been an issue in prisons, whether or not it is … federal, provincial. This has all the time been an issue, particularly psychological well being.”

Province conscious of Pine Grove starvation strike

Maier stated she’s additionally been informed there’s a girl with tuberculosis on Eagle’s unit who’s allegedly not in quarantine.

A spokesperson with the province’s Ministry of Justice stated they may not touch upon the private well being issues of inmates.

Nonetheless, the spokesperson confirmed in an e mail on Thursday that three inmates are collaborating in a “tray refusal” on the provincial jail.

The hanging girls are accepting liquids, together with juice and dietary drinks, and obtain “continued medical supervision,” together with physician checkups, in line with the e-mail.

The spokesperson stated the ministry is monitoring the scenario “to make sure the well being and security of the collaborating inmates.”

The Saskatoon Tribal Council confirmed that its director of justice, Crystal LaPlante, went to Pine Grove Correctional Centre earlier this week.

Eagle appreciated the chance to talk with an Indigenous girl about her considerations, stated Mark Arcand, the council’s tribal chief.

“Religion has some expectations and a few outcomes that we predict are affordable, and a few may not be achievable,” he stated.

“We perceive it’s a jail, there are guidelines and laws,” stated Arcand.

“If we’ve to vary the system, what does that seem like, and what are these programs that should be modified so there’s good outcomes and outcomes?”

In October, the province and the tribal council announced a new pilot program which can present the council with funding for a undertaking to reintegrate previously incarcerated girls into the group. 

On Thursday, Arcand stated the tribal council will return to Pine Grove for a followup go to.

‘Constructed on systemic racism’

Sydney Wouters has additionally been monitoring the scenario at Pine Grove as a part of her position as a jail in-reach service employee and performing co-executive director for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan — a non-profit group that helps girls who’ve been incarcerated.

Wouters stated her group final spoke with Eagle two weeks in the past on the jail in Prince Albert.

“The considerations that I’ve been listening to are revolving primarily round their therapy by workers, particularly the racism that Indigenous girls are dealing with in Pine Grove,” stated Wouters.

“That is one thing that has been occurring for a very long time.… Our justice system is constructed on systemic racism. There’s an overrepresentation of Indigenous individuals throughout the justice system.”

In line with a brand new report from Ivan Zinger, the nation’s high jail watchdog, Canada has made scant progress in addressing the overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous individuals in prisons, with some dealing with even worse circumstances than they did a decade in the past.

Wouters stated she has additionally been talking with directors on the facility and requested that they make criticism types available, quite than requiring inmates to ask workers for them.

She was informed the director of applications and the cultural advisor would sit down with Eagle to speak about her considerations on Thursday, however Wouters stated Friday morning she hadn’t heard something extra concerning the assembly. 

“They know that there is points … particularly with therapy of the ladies,” stated Wouters.

Ingesting water examined

The standard of consuming water was one other concern for the inmates collaborating within the starvation strike.

Eagle stated final month the water smelled and tasted so unhealthy she was boiling it, Maier stated on Thursday.

In line with the provincial Ministry of SaskBuilds and Procurement, which manages and maintains provincial authorities buildings, the water at Pine Grove was examined and despatched to a Saskatchewan Analysis Council lab for evaluation on Oct. 5.

A complete of 30 checks had been achieved, and officers on-site didn’t detect any uncommon odour or style within the water, the ministry stated in an e mail to CBC on Friday.

Exams within the inmate areas “met the federal government of Canada’s requirements for consuming water high quality,” the spokesperson stated, whereas a take a look at in a workers space “the place the water isn’t used was barely above the suitable degree for copper.”

That line has since been flushed, in line with the ministry.

Lack of cultural programming

Each Maier and Wouters additionally say the ladies within the facility are additionally hoping for extra entry to cultural programming and help.

“How are we supposed to assist them make the modifications of their lives in order that they do not find yourself again in jail following their launch with out providing them correct programming?” stated Wouters.

“That is what we’re seeing in the neighborhood as properly, is lack of programming so that individuals do not need to be in jail.”

Maier stated throughout a latest “mass transfer” within the jail, Eagle was positioned right into a excessive safety unit.

A mass transfer includes inmates being moved away from their present unit, and probably locked down, to defuse escalating actions, the advocate stated.

“[Eagle] did say they’re locked up 14 hours a day [in the high security unit] and it is 100 per cent Indigenous.”

When requested concerning the “mass transfer” and whether or not it concerned girls on starvation strike, the federal government spokesperson stated they may not discuss specifics about deliberate lockdowns, citing safety causes.

Maier stated she final talked with Eagle earlier this week, and was informed she has been in a position to see an elder since she got here to the brand new unit.

“No person ever wakes up and says, ‘Hey, I need to go to jail right this moment,'” stated Maier. “They’re nonetheless human.”

Most people she works with “know that they should be there,” stated Maier.

“They name it a authorized obligation. They only need to serve their time with dignity.”

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