The Congress of Aboriginal People’s is seeking accountability to Correction Services Canada after the government agency blocked an expert panel examining solitary confinement in federal prisons.
“Canada basically backed away from it and they chose not to follow the process and they chose to. They didn’t really want to, provide any information to the committee. And it’s rather unfortunate that, the oversight committee, that they did that,” said Kim Beaudin, National Vice Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
CAP disapproves of the use of solitary confinement, suggesting the United Nations has labeled it torture after 15 days.
But Beaudin said for Indigenous Peoples, solitary confinement can have devastating effects.
“It’s been proven that they’ve done that to Indigenous People in particular for years. Sometimes the men, what happens there is they’re cut off from their families. They’re cut off from any support they’re cut off from everything, and nobody really knows what’s going on. And that’s really unfortunate,” explained Beaudin.
In August, the organization expressed concern over the number of inmate deaths at correctional facilities in Saskatchewan, naming Curtis McKenzie who CAP claims died of suicide while in Corrections Services Canada custody at Saskatchewan Penitentiary, and Chris Teniskishayinew who died of suicide while in custody in the Regina Correctional Institute.
“Since July, Saskatchewan Corrections and Policing has acknowledged the deaths of 4 inmates at Regina Corrections Center and the Pine Grove Corrections Center. Corrections Services Canada further acknowledged the death of 1 inmate at Saskatchewan Penitentiary in July,” the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples said in a press release.
“I mean, one of the issues there is that, he was struggling with mental health issues and I actually know quite a bit of inside information about Curtis and unfortunately, they kind of often missed meds when he was in there when we seen the Prince Albert and then in turn by doing that, that’s when he started to sort of spiral out of control on terms of mental health,” Beaudin said of McKenzie from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. “This was all tied into his treatment within the system itself being thrown into solitary confinement for months and months and months and not really having any assistance or help.”
Beaudin is calling for federal prisons to increase mental health supports and for inmates to easily access mental health medications.