People imprioned at Saskatoon Correctional Centre and Pine Grove Correctional Centre have been on hunger strike.
Saskatchewan has one of the highest incarceration rates of Indigenous people, with around 75 per cent of prisoners being Indigenous.
A letter written by Pine Grove Correctional Centre prisoner Carmen Cardinal Napope reported that inmates are not provided with clean masks. One prisoner used old masks to create a streamer and was told to take them down. Another inmate asked for a mask and was told by the guard to wear one from the streamer of used masks, the letter alleged.
They’re told buy their own masks.
Napope’s letter also accused guards of only bringing one item when inmates ask for a broom, mop and cleaner. Napope writes in the letter that her unit, which is the unit 2 dorm unit, is referred to as “the forgotten unit of the orphanage.”
In addition, prisoners had to stand outside while guards took away their feminine hygiene products, clothes, pillows and blankets.
The hunger strike is supposed to last three days and after that it is up to the prisoners to decide what they want do. It started with Corey Charles Cardinal, an prisoner at Saskatoon Correctional Centre. Cardinal was taken to segregation unit for starting this hunger strike.
Prisoners at Saskatoon Correctional Centre are aware of that alleged situation at Pine Grove and that is part of their motivation behind the strike.
15 people at Pine Grove and 48 at Saskatoon are participating in the hunger strike.
Community actions transpired throughout the week.
People in one building were yelling and appeared to be smashing windows. One held up a sign out of his window which read, ‘We’re getting treated like animals.’ The group was also waving what looked like towels or blankets.
A Saskatchewan woman worried about the well being of all inmates in the Regina Correctional Centre, where her son, along with 61 other inmates and 12 staff, have tested positive for COVID-19.
Families of prisoners who have COVID-19 at the Regina Correctional Centre protested outside the facility on Tuesday morning.
Letter by Cory Charles Cardinal incarcerated at SPCC:
I speak on behalf of a generation of young lost Aboriginal warriors, surviving in a postmodern-day institution of colonial suppression that has unjustly labelled us as “criminals” and “thieves” as part of a 154-year-long campaign to diminish our identities as protectors of our people.
Within this architecture of oppression, we are a vibrant community of strong, intelligent brothers who eat together, wrestle and play together, and protect each other from a system that has exploited us. This system is rooted in a dominant mainstream society voter-base that has, over 154 years, cultivated prejudiced values to elect a biased government that has reduced us to surviving on watered-down peanut butter sandwiches.
It is true we have been targeted as Aboriginal men by a racist system. Despite this epidemic of incarceration, our resilient community of modern Aboriginal warriors has survived by will and creative ambition to prevail over many an enemy of poverty, addiction, and racism to find community and belonging and acceptance in this mainstream model of humanity. It is not by our own standards, for we are an oppressed people.
This cycle of systemic oppression must be broken and must be recognized for what it is: a modern-day act of genocide meant to eradicate a vulnerable people.
We are inmates of not only institutions of incarceration, but every other institution that has dominated us for years. We are inmates of poverty, of high suicide rates, of disease, and of overrepresentation in the justice system.
The current events surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak in provincial prisons is an example of the failure to protect vulnerable people in their care, an example of a 154-year-old tradition of ignoring the needs of a vulnerable people in their power to protect, which must not go unrecognized. This cycle of systemic oppression must be broken and must be recognized for what it is: a modern-day act of genocide meant to eradicate a vulnerable people.
We humbly appeal to the intelligent, educated minds that are more suitable and equipped in logic and law to employ and unite in conversations an inquiry into the epidemic of incarcerations, overuse of remand, over-incarceration of Aboriginals, and prevalent structures of colonialism, to mount a defense against the systemic oppression that has tortured our dignity and lives. Please include us in your model of humanity.
On behalf of a generation of young lost Aboriginal warriors, Cory Charles Cardinal Advocate with the inmates