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Inmate at Pine Grove in eighth week of hunger strike

An inmate at Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert is protesting how inmates are treated and conditions at the institution.

PRINCE ALBERT -  Pine Grove Correctional Centre inmate 42-year-old Faith Eagle is going into the eighth week of her hunger strike and the strike is spreading to other jails and prisons in Canada.

Starting at midnight Friday, many prisoners in solidarity will join Eagle's hunger strike to protest conditions at Pine Grove and how inmates are treated.

Units at Regina Correctional Centre, Saskatchewan Penitentiary, Edmonton Institution for Women, and Renous in Atlantic Institution will participate, said Sherri Maier who advocates for inmates’ rights and founded a group called Beyond Prison Walls Canada.

“Sharise Sutherland-Kayseas at Edmonton Institution for Women is entering into a ceremonial fast this weekend and I believe another women's federal institution is joining in,” she said. “We are hoping some institutions in Ontario will be joining in as we have support from community members over there too.”

Maier said this will be similar to the hunger strike she organized on July 1, 2021, with inmates at Edmonton Institution where others followed.  

“I'm told a woman on her unit has TB, not in quarantine and others are not being tested,” said Maier. “Faith has a couple other women joining her hunger strike on her unit.  They all have no intentions to stop until things change and their demands met.”

Maier said that Eagle was taken to the hospital in October due to dehydration and given an IV.

“She informed me that the nurses at the jail made her sign a DNR. About a week ago there was a mass movement, however, that resulted in her and eight others being placed on a high security unit that only keeps them locked up for 14 hours a day.”

In a mass move, inmates are moved away from their unit and possibly locked down.

Eagle wants to see changes at Pine Grove including better treatment of inmates by staff, access to cultural practices and Elders, better food and water, the resignation of senior staff, Indigenous team leaders, Indigenous representation inside the jail, and to be treated like humans.

"These are people," said Maier. "They're not animals, they're human beings. A lot of them are there on remand, so they're innocent until proven guilty — but even if they're guilty of something they don't deserve being treated the way they are."

A senior spokesperson from Saskatchewan Government Justice Services told Thursday in an email that they are aware three inmates at Pine Grove are participating in a tray refusal and are accepting liquids such as water, coffee, juice, Gatorade and Boost.

“The Ministry is monitoring the situation and working to ensure the health and safety of the participating inmates,” said Ariane Whiting.

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