WARNING: This story contains disturbing content.
A Piapot First Nation man currently incarcerated has filed a Human Rights complaint against Correctional Service of Canada, alleging excessive and traumatic force and failing to provide appropriate mental health care and access to religious, cultural and spiritual practices.
Nicholas Dinardo explains that he is Cree, but born in North Vancouver. His mother and her family members attended residential school.
“I have serious mental health issues and a history of childhood trauma and abuse. I have been in psychiatric hospitals and I have tried to kill myself many times,” the complaint said. “My psychiatric diagnoses have included post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), schizoaffective disorder– bipolar type, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and antisocial personality disorder. Among others, symptoms of PTSD include always being on guard for danger and angry or aggressive outbursts.”
Dinardo has a history with the criminal justice system, admitting to being in-and-out custody since the age of 12. He is currently serving his third federal prison term. The 28-year-old said he has been moved several times between federal maximum-security facilities and correctional treatment centres for his self-harm and suicide attempts.
“I have swallowed glass and razor blades, climbed the razor wire, tried to hang myself, refused blood transfusions and gone on hunger strikes to try to kill myself,” states the complaint. “I am not aware of ever having a full psychiatric assessment in CSC custody, even though the psychiatrist has questioned some of my historical diagnoses. CSC mental health staff have labeled my behaviour as manipulative.”
Dinardo claims that Kent Correctional guards have pepper sprayed him and denied him access to wash the pepper spray of his face for several hours.
“They took me to the shower and I swallowed a razor blade and broken glass. Instead of taking me to the hospital, the ERT put me back in bed until the next morning. When I told a nurse I had to urinate, she brought a jug and — without my consent – forcibly put my penis in the jug, even when I said no,” the complaint asserts. “I have not met with a psychiatrist in about six months even though I have been self-harming so severely that I have almost died and I am hearing voices. I have been placed in isolation cells (known as observation cells) on suicide watch, including at Kent.”
Dinardo said he does not think he can cope by returning to Kent and is requesting to be sent to a community hospital or Indigenous healing lodge. “My statutory release is March 2022 and I am worried that I will not be ok when I get out.” None of the allegations have been proven.
If you are contemplating suicide or know someone who is, resources and help are out there at www.crisisservicescanada.ca. Alternatively you call the national suicide prevention helpline at 1-833-456-4566, or the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.
(Photo: Kent Correctional Facility. Courtesy of Correctional Service Canada)