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FSIN concerned over carbon monoxide exposure at Pine Grove

Two inmates and one staff member were taken to hospital for treatment
Pine Grove Correctional Centre for Women is located a few kilometres north of the City of Prince Albert.

PRINCE ALBERT — The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Special Investigations Unit is investigating complaints from concerned family members after several Pine Grove inmates reported an incident involving carbon monoxide exposure at the women’s facility.

A release issued April 1 by the FSIN said the exposure had resulted in two inmates and one staff member being transported to hospital for oxygen therapy.

At a press conference April 1. Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety spokesman Noel Busse confirmed that a heating unit had been found to be the source of the leak and that two inmates and one staff member had been taken to hospital for treatment.

He said the staff were alerted by inmates of a strange smell in the late morning of March 30, and by early afternoon the women on the unit had been relocated to the chapel and to a recreation area.

SaskEnergy attended, he said, and detected carbon monoxide. Monitors were set up, as there were not any existing monitors on the unit, and by 4 p.m. the levels had returned to normal.

He also said the three people who had been taken to hospital were all returned to the facility by 4 p.m. as well. The option to go to hospital was offered to four inmates in total, however two declined to go.

While there was plenty of chatter of social media about the incident not being made public, Busse said it was an event isolated to one unit so the decision was made that it was not necessary to notify the public at that time.

He told reporters, “We’re reviewing the carbon monoxide detectors in the facility in conjunction with the Ministry of SaskBuilds and Procurement.”

The FSIN executive is calling for better health and safety for inmates and staff, and also immediate inspection and replacement of all aging equipment within the facility to prevent further malfunctions that could potentially create tragic consequences.

“The families of these inmates and the FSIN are seriously concerned and deserve to know what is happening and why women are being taken to the hospital” said FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear in their release. “If our staff was not contacted about this potentially deadly situation, we would have never known, and we still don’t know for sure the seriousness of what took place. These women are human beings and were put at serious risk, which could have resulted in tragedy.”

FSIN Vice Chief Aly Bear is quoted in the release as saying, “The safety of our women has always been a major concern. They’re targeted on the streets and they’re grossly over-represented within the jails and correctional centres across the country. This ongoing dehumanizing treatment of First Nations women is in violation of their human rights. We must speak up for those who have been silenced and especially those suffering these gross injustices in institutional settings.”


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