Second Hunger Strike Over Cultural Programming Prevented At Regina Jail

Forrest Pelletier has been in the Regina jail since late November.

Forrest Pelletier has been at the Regina Correctional Centre since late November.

By Black Powder | Red Power Media

A dozen inmates at the Regina Correctional Centre were again on a hunger strike Thursday night, only to end it hours later after their demands were met.

The same group of inmates from a unit which houses high risk offenders, went on a hunger strike early March, to protest the prison’s decision to refuse them access to cultural programming and access to outdoors. The issue was resolved just over 24 hours after it started when the Ministry of Justice indicated several concessions were granted, including a microwave being added to the unit where the protest took place and that access to a smudging unit was expected to be operational that week.

Forrest Pelletier, who has been in the jail since late November, said the offenders were still being denied cultural programming like sweat lodges and smudging ceremonies, as well as access to exercise equipment and the outdoors.

On Thursday evening, Pelletier said the strike was over after a meeting with the director, where inmates were promised access to smudging by March 31 and outdoor exercise by April 8. After a list of required exercise equipment is provided, that too will be given, Pelletier said.

“Everyone’s happy, laughing, we can’t believe it,” he said. “It was worth it.”

Pelletier, who has not been outside in four months, is looking forward to the chance to breathe in the fresh air and stretch his legs.

“To be able to go outside, it’s going to be a beautiful feeling.”

The promised microwave that had been placed on the unit was removed a few days later after it shorted out in one electrical outlet, Pelletier said.

The government spokesperson confirmed that microwaves were removed after it was discovered they were incompatible with wiring and causing breakers to blow.

“We are hopeful the electrical work needed to support the microwaves will be completed soon,” the government spokesperson wrote.

Officials added the smudging area is not ready to accommodate offenders due to frozen rocks in the compound, but add that staff is putting a procedure in place to allow smudging.