Prisoner Resistance Across the Prairies

Prince Albert Correctional Centre, January 4, 2021. “We’re getting treated like animals.”

Information on prisoners’ resistance, primarily in Saskatchewan, but also Alberta and Manitoba.

Funeral and Support Fund for Cory Cardinal (launched June 11, 2021)

Background on the situation in Saskatchewan:

“Saskatchewan also has one of the highest incarceration rates of Indigenous people, with around 75 per cent of prisoners being Indigenous.”
– Sask Dispatch/Briarpatch magazine
, January 4, 2021

Open Letter in Solidarity with Prisoners at Saskatchewan Jails (January 4)

“We are a collective of community members, prisoner advocates, and penal abolitionists who stand in solidarity with prisoners at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre (SCC), Prince Albert Correctional Centre (PACC), Pine Grove Correctional Centre (PGCC), and Regina Correctional Centre (RCC).”

Help Support Saskatchewan Inmates (Inmates For Humane Conditions fundraiser)

Timeline

July 9, 2021:

July 5:

Chip away at it”
A year of COVID-era hunger strikes in Canadian prisons (Briarpatch magazine)

“As supporters on the outside sprang into action, calling on the government to #FreeThemAll, prisoners faced up to the reality of 24-hour lockdowns, no more family visits, an already failing health-care system, and terrible food. The hunger strikes started not long after.”

July 1:

June 25:

June 13:

June 11:

Sask. writer, poet and prisoner advocate Cory Cardinal dead at 38 (CBC Saskatoon)

“Family says Cardinal is being remembered as selfless person who would amaze with his art and writing”

April 19:

People at small rally dance for inmates at COVID-stricken Regina jail (Regina / 980 CJME)

“Wearing her specially made dress with hundreds of small metal cones, Julia Paul led a protest and danced for healing in front of the legislative building Monday. Her son is an inmate at the Regina Correctional Centre”

April 13:

‘We’re tired of suffering’: Former inmate shows support for women in Pine Grove Correctional Centre (CTV Saskatoon)

“We’re tired of getting swept under the rug. We’re tired of suffering. We’re tired of being labelled. We’re tired of just being dehumanized,” Cory Cardinal said.

April 9:

Prisoner advocate Cory Cardinal says much work to be done at Sask. jails (CBC Saskatoon)

“Cory Cardinal has been fighting for inmate rights in Saskatchewan for years. During the pandemic, when the fight has intensified, he’s been doing the work from inside the Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre.”

March 8:

First nations women in jail over represented and lack proper supports, says FSIN (paNOW)

“According to a press release Monday by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), First Nations women in the Canadian justice system do not have accessible community services and lack support due to shortage of resources, and are often forced to serve remand time in correctional facilities.”

Kimberly Squirrel tragedy prompts calls to prevent over-representation of incarcerated Indigenous women (CBC Saskatchewan)

“At a Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations conference Monday, the executive director of an advocacy group for women in the justice system called on the province and Saskatchewan communities to increase their mental health, addictions and housing resources in order to decrease the number of women in the province’s correctional facilities.”

March 5:

Second man from Sagkeeng First Nation dies while in custody (APTN News)

“First Nations leaders are demanding answers after a second man from Sagkeeng First Nation died while in custody in Manitoba.”

March 4:

COVID-19 intensifies already inhumane conditions in prisons, by Karrie Auger (Edmonton Journal)

“For Indigenous people, who make up the largest portion of those who are incarcerated in Canada, colonialism has not only created the conditions that lead to their criminalization through the Indian Residential School system, but continues to maintain the cycle of punishment and containment of Indigenous peoples through the penal system.”

February 22:

Sister says Kimberly Squirrel not dressed for Sask. winter after release from provincial jail (CBC Saskatoon)

“Asked if she would say anything to the officials responsible for Saskatchewan’s correctional facilities, she said people shouldn’t be falling through the cracks just because they’re struggling.”

February 19:

Finding transitional supports and housing after release from custody even more difficult during pandemic (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

“Prior to the pandemic, transitional housing options for newly released inmates in Saskatchewan were limited. The situation has worsened.”

February 17:

Six months later, the public reckoning over policing and incarceration is ongoing, by Robyn Maynard (Toronto Star)

“Cardinal took part in the mass hunger strikes undertaken in Saskatoon, Prince Albert, and Calgary since the beginning of 2021, actions which make up only a small part of what is likely a record year of prisoner-led actions since the pandemic began.”

Family of Will Ahmo looking for answers into his death at Headingley Correctional Centre (APTN News)

“William ‘Will’ Walter Ahmo, 45, from Sagkeeng First Nation north of Winnipeg died Sunday after what’s been called ‘an incident’ with staff at the Headingley provincial jail just outside of Winnipeg.”

February 16:

‘Our story is all too common’: Family calls for inquest into death of inmate at Manitoba jail (CTV Winnipeg)

“Our story is all too common. Will should not have been in jail and should not have been made a victim of Canada’s racist justice system.”

February 15:

Is Change Possible? – Know Justice w/ The John Howard Society of Saskatchewan (podcast)

“Is change possible in the Canadian prison system? If so, it starts with changing our way of thinking. Then, we must put our new knowledge into action. Systemic change isn’t easy, but it is necessary, and it is possible.”

February 1:

‘Tomorrow we take action’: How Sask. inmates rallied for safer conditions during the pandemic (CBC Saskatoon)

“The health of my people was at risk”, writes Cory Cardinal

Cory Cardinal is the founder of Inmates for Human Conditions, a group of inmates advocating for better conditions inside Saskatchewan correctional centres. (Submitted by Abby Stadnyk)

January 30:

Sask. John Howard Society launches podcast featuring inmate voices, experiences (CBC Saskatchewan)

Julie Paul, whose son River Peters is inside the Regina Correctional Centre, participated in the John Howard Society’s new Know Justice podcast. She organized a rally featuring dancers in regalia to express her concern about her son’s situation. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

January 28:

Letter calls for end to lockdown at Drumheller [Alberta] prison due to ‘grave mistreatment’ of inmates (Calgary Herald)

“[Dalvir] Sidhu said he lost 31 pounds during his hunger strike, which he ended after nearly two weeks due to concerns about his health.”

January 27:

January 26:

Inside Canada’s largest COVID-19 outbreak in a federal prison (CBC Manitoba)

“Inmates describe conditions in Manitoba’s Stony Mountain prison, which is targeted in class-action lawsuit.”

Stony Mountain Institution in Manitoba, Canada’s oldest federal prison, was the site of a massive COVID-19 outbreak. (Justin Fraser/CBC News )

January 25:

Inmate at Willow Cree Healing lodge dies due to complications from COVID-19 (paNOW)

“Including this incident, five federal inmates have died from COVID-19 complications since the beginning of the pandemic.”

January 23:

[ Reposted with permission from the Inmates 4 Humane Conditions facebook page ]

“The inmates of segregation 3-4 at the Saskatoon Correctional Center stand in solidarity and support with Sharise Sutherland-Kayseas who was on a 18 day hunger strike, standing up to systemic racism for the rest of the women in the Pine Grove Correctional Center that has been happening for how long? Sharise’s brave stand has uncovered and proven examples of racism hidden in the correctional system at Pine Grove.

The Ministry of Corrections and Policing attempted to discredit and minimize the actions of this protest which are a weak and shady move to sweep us inmates under the rug. The point of this protest was to refuse food provided by the Ministry not the canteen that is paid for by inmates. With our right we stand in love and support with Sharise Sutherland-Kayseas .”

Sincerely,
Cory Charles Cardinal.

January 22:

Mother worries for daughter as hunger strike continues at Pine Grove Correctional Centre (CBC Saskatchewan)

“They’re asking for support — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” Dina Kayseas said in a phone interview. “They need that genuine, real support.”

Dina Kayseas, with her daughter, Sharise Sutherland-Kayseas, in happier times. Now, Dina is worried for the well-being of her daughter, who has been on a hunger strike for two weeks to protest conditions at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre. (via CBC / Submitted by Dina Kayseas)

Love In The Time Of COVID – Know Justice w/ The John Howard Society of Saskatchewan (podcast)

“On today’s episode, two mothers share their stories about what it’s like to have a child in prison and the lengths they will go to support them. We explore the impact of incarceration on families, specifically in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak and the love a mother has for her son.”

January 21:

Elizabeth Fry Acting Director warns of “frightening” situation at Pine Grove (Eagle Feather News)

“The issues that we are facing here and what I believe are critical, is that we have a huge influx of people who are being held in custody on remand and those remand cases are not being heard in a timely way,” said Tait. “We actually have, in Saskatchewan, more than double per capita the number of individuals being held on remand.”

January 19:

January 18:

More than half of inmates in Sask. jails on remand, not convicted: lawyer (Regina Leader Post)

“On Friday the petition was delivered to the Legislative Building with 1,700 signatures. On Saturday, Moe tweeted: ‘We will not release criminals that have been sentenced by a court of law.'”

January 15:

Petition presented at Sask. legislature calls for corrections minister’s removal (CBC Saskatchewan)

“Papequash called for Tell’s immediate resignation and gave the ministry five recommendations for immediate changes. […] She also called for immediate and ongoing investment in communities rather than jails, with an overall goal of moving beyond the current penal system.”

Petition delivered to Minister Christine Tell calling for her resignation (Regina Leader Post)

“I feel we as grandparents, mothers, have done nothing but bang into closed doors. They peek at us, say ‘Yes, we’ll look into it,’ and then nothing’s ever done.”
– Soolee Dinah Papequash

‘Like the walls are closing in’: Drumheller [Alberta] inmates go on hunger strike to protest lockdown (Calgary Herald)

“Inmates at the Drumheller Institution say they have staged a hunger strike in response to a near month-long lockdown in their unit, which has limited them from leaving their cells for more than 45 minutes each day and led to poor hygiene conditions.”

January 14:

Vaccinating inmates protects us all. To say otherwise is just a cheap attempt to gain votes:
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole ignores solid evidence on how COVID-19 spreads in and from prisons (CBC)

“Moreover, contrary to what some may think, correctional centres are not closed systems. Refusing to vaccinate criminals doesn’t just put prisoners at risk.”

January 10:

Mothers return to Regina Correctional Centre, dance in support of inmates: Second time in a week an event has been held outside the jail (CBC Saskatchewan)

“I think a mother’s love is really powerful and will make the world pay attention,” Julie Paul said. “Everyone mostly says that ‘they’re in there for a reason’, you know, ‘they put themselves in there’ but they’re still human.”

Loved ones and supporters of inmates brought signs to show support for those inside the jail. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

“We’re Getting Treated Like Animals”: Protests and Uprisings Spread Through Saskatchewan Jails | Perilous Chronicle

“Karrie Auger, nehiyaw (Cree) prisoner advocate, helped organize the event and participated in the hunger strike from outside the prison walls. Auger explained to Perilous that, for her, the Day of Action was important because it encouraged people to build solidarity across prison walls.”

About Conservative Politicians Opposing Vaccination of Prisoners:

Conservative discourse of deprioritizing vaccination of prisoners not only codes their own anti-Indigenous racism as virtuous legalistic moralism but also falsely portrays prisons as separate from the carceral/colonial society that produces them. Guards & civilian correctional employees bring the virus into the prisons from outside, and when prisoners get sick & potentially die, as a Saskatchewan Penitentiary prisoner just did, they may be brought to public hospitals outside of the prisons.
– M. Gouldhawke

January 9:

A solidarity protest, “Justice for Regina Correctional Inmates”, organized by Indigenous women (including relatives of prisoners), took place outside the Regina Correctional Centre.
– M. Gouldhawke

What Erin O’Toole is really saying when he says criminals shouldn’t get early access to vaccines | Globe & Mail

“In Canada, given the grossly disproportionate imprisonment of Indigenous peoples, we must ask what it is that politicians are signalling when they talk about crime.”

Inmate vaccination plan rolls out; COVID spreads at Willow Cree Healing Lodge | paNOW

“As of Friday, a total of eight inmates and two individuals who work at Willow Cree Healing Lodge (WCHL) near Duck Lake, have tested positive for COVID-19.”

Saskatchewan Penitentiary inmate dies from COVID-19

“The man, who was in his 50s, died on Friday at an outside hospital. His next of kin have been notified of the death, Corrections Canada said in a news release, and the federal agency extended condolences.”

January 8:

Mother protests COVID-positive son’s treatment in Regina jail (APTN News)

“Julie Paul, from Ochapowace First Nation, is concerned her son River Peters, 26, is not getting proper medical care in the correctional centre after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month.”

January 7:

“A Warrior’s Expression”

“Read and listen to the poem ‘A Warrior’s Expression’ by poet and prisoner justice advocate, Cory Cardinal. On January 4, 2021, Cardinal organized a hunger strike of 90 prisoners to protest government indifference and negligence leading to COVID-19 outbreaks at Saskatoon jails. The poem is inspired by this experience.”

Sask. inmates to start receiving COVID-19 vaccinations (CBC News)

“Inmates should be vaccinated and have some kind of treatment because they are in a confined population,” said Sherry Maier, an advocate for prisoners who operates Beyond Prison Walls Canada.

January 6:

CFRC Kingston Prison Radio on the Day of Solidarity and Action in support of prisoners across Saskatchewan

“Coverage of day of action in solidarity with Saskatchewan prisoners. Recent days have been marked by hunger strikes, riots and outside protests. Featuring an interview with Sherri Maier of Beyond Prison Walls Canada.”

Advocate group joins calls for [Saskatchewan] corrections minister’s resignation over handling of COVID-19 (Global News)

“These systems are inherently flawed in the way that they lock people away from society, in the way people in prison are considered less worthy than those that aren’t.”
– Erica Violet Lee

January 6 Day of Solidarity and Action in support of prisoners across Saskatchewan (facebook event page)

January 5:

Priscilla Settee interview – Covid In Prisons (Soundcloud | Making the Links)

“An update with Priscilla Settee on how people and organizations are building solidarity links in and outside prisons to confront COVID 19 impact. Priscilla speaks of an Open Letter with key demands made to Saskatchewan Government to respond appropriately to the growing COVID Crisis in the prison system.”

‘Scared for their life’: family and supporters protest conditions outside Regina Correctional Centre (CBC Saskatchewan)

“Supporters and family members of people living in the Regina Correctional Centre protested outside the building today against poor living conditions amid a COVID-19 outbreak.”

Protest held outside Regina jail calls for Minister Tell’s resignation (Regina Leader Post)

“Chief Margaret Bear of the Ochapowace First Nation came to the protest to offer her support with the mothers and the inmates. She said it was important to fight for inmates around the province who aren’t able to communicate or tell their stories.”

Protestors allege inadequate treatment of inmates with COVID-19 at Regina Correctional Centre (CTV Regina)

“Families of inmates who have COVID-19 at the Regina Correctional Centre protested outside the facility on Tuesday morning.”

Regina Correctional Centre COVID-19 outbreak concerning to families of inmates (Global News)

“I just think they want them to die in there. I think they want to get rid of them,” Julie Paul said. “When you’re in jail, nobody cares — it’s just horrible. I want people to care.”

Julie Paul, January 5, 2021

January 4:

Smoke and screams: Emergency crews respond to disturbance at Prince Albert Correctional Centre (CTV Saskatoon)

“Inmates 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 letter from the organizer of the Sask. prisoners’ hunger strike (Cory Charles Cardinal)

“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.”

Open Letter in Solidarity with Prisoners at the Saskatchewan Jails

“We are a collective of community members, prisoner advocates, and penal abolitionists who stand in solidarity with prisoners at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre (SCC), Prince Albert Correctional Centre (PACC), Pine Grove Correctional Centre (PGCC), and Regina Correctional Centre (RCC).”

Inmates stage hunger strike, call for minister’s resignation over COVID-19 response (PA Now)

“Carmen Napope Cardinal wrote a letter on behalf of all the inmates at the facility [Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert], and paNOW has obtained a copy of the letter through the advocacy group Beyond Prison Walls Canada. Cardinal claimed staff members are withholding requests lists and PPE equipment.”

62 Regina inmates have COVID-19, family alleges inadequate medical care (CTV Regina)

“A Saskatchewan woman is 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.”

January 3:

COVID-19 outbreak at Sask. Penitentiary sparks mental health concerns (CBC News)

“A COVID-19 outbreak at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary has sparked concerns from advocates and family members of inmates of declining mental health and a lack of support.”

2020:

Protesters call for release of Saskatoon jail inmates amid sweeping COVID-19 outbreak (Global News) | December 1, 2020

“They’re calling for the release of remanded inmates, who have no way to escape the coronavirus after an outbreak infected nearly a quarter of the jail’s population. Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety said it won’t release anyone early.”

An Open Letter in Solidarity with Prisoners at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre | December 1, 2020

“We are a collective of community members, prisoner advocates, and penal abolitionists who stand in solidarity with prisoners at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre (SCC), where 130 people (107 prisoners; 23 staff) or roughly 20% of the population have tested positive for COVID-19 as of November 30, 2020.”

Advocates Renew Call on Sask Government to Address COVID-19 Risk in Prison (John Howard & Elizabeth Fry Societies, & more) | December 1, 2020

“We write following a major outbreak of COVID-19 at the Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre.”

Police respond to ‘disturbance’ at Prince Albert Correctional (PA Now) | September 30, 2020

“The Ministry of Corrections and Policing confirmed there was a disturbance in the yard at the Prince Albert Correctional Tuesday afternoon.”

From Riots to COVID-19: Ongoing Resistance at Sask Pen | August 8, 2020

“Built on the ground of a decommissioned Indian residential school in 1911, the Saskatchewan Penitentiary has remained a site of carceral violence to this day. It is also a place of enduring resistance, as seen in a variety of prisoner actions, from labour strikes and riots to peaceful protests.”

Tear Gas Launcher Deployed as Coronavirus Tensions Spiral in Canadian Prison (Vice News) | March 24, 2020

“As tensions mount inside Canada’s prisons due to COVID-19, corrections officers have begun deploying pepper spray and rubber bullets against inmates [including at the federal Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert]. Fears are mounting that things could spiral out of control quickly.”

Saskatoon Regional Psychiatric Centre reports second highest use of force incidents among all federal regional treatment centres (Saskatoon Star Phoenix) | February 27, 2020

“The Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon recorded the second-highest rate of use of force by staff among all federal regional treatment centres in the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to the Office of the Correctional Investigator’s annual report.”

Province says 75 per cent of inmates in Sask. jails are Indigenous (Saskatoon Star Phoenix) | February 3, 2020

“About three-quarters of all inmates in Saskatchewan’s adult jails are Indigenous, according to new information from the Ministry of Corrections and Policing.”

2019:

An Indigenous Saskatchewan man has been kept in segregation for more than 2,000 days, advocates say (Canadian Press)

“Prisoners advocates are asking a Federal Court to intervene in the case of a Dene man from northern Saskatchewan who they say has spent most of his adult life in segregation and is at risk of committing suicide.”

2018 + 1948:

The night the residential school burned to the ground — and the students cheered

“Saskatchewan survivor of Thunderchild school believes students started the 1948 fire.”

2016:

Canada’s prisons are the ‘new residential schools’ (Maclean’s magazine)

“A months-long investigation reveals that at every step, Canada’s justice system is set against Indigenous people.”

2005:

Native Spirituality in Prisons (Wii’nimkiikaa magazine)

“Six Native inmates at the Regina Correctional Facility in Saskatchewan filed complaints stating that they were not being allowed to attend sweats or possess sweetgrass. Prisoner Ryan Sayer said that guards mocked his eagle feather, tore open his sage envelopes, and aren’t allowing him to see an elder.”

See also:

Carceral Redlining: White Supremacy Is A Weapon Of Mass Incarceration For Indigenous And Black Peoples In Canada (Yellowhead Institute & Rai Reece)

Carceral Redlining: Yellowhead Institute infographic | PDF

Colonial Incarceration in Canada: A Yellowhead Institute infographic | PDF

An Indigenous Abolitionist Study Guide (Yellowhead Institute & Toronto Abolition Convergence)

Office of the Correctional Investigator Annual Reports (Government of Canada)

Tracking the Politics of Criminalization and Punishment in Canada

NoPrisons.ca

A Condensed History of Canada’s Colonial Cops

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