Saskatchewan

Cultural needs part of Regina jail protest, defence lawyer says

The need for cultural and spiritual services is part of the motivation behind a brief hunger strike at the Regina Correctional Centre, a defence lawyer says.

15 inmates involved in brief hunger strike

The need for cultural and spiritual services is part of the motivation behind a brief hunger strike at the Regina Correctional Centre, a defence lawyer says.

On Tuesday afternoon, a government spokesperson said the protest action had ended.

Earlier, Bob Hrycan, who represents one of the inmates involved in the protest, told CBC News the hunger strike was "very much cultural" and concerns lack of access to sweats, pipe ceremonies, and other things that are basic to First Nations culture.

The hunger strike was noted Monday when Drew Wilby, executive director of corporate affairs with the Ministry of Justice, told reporters that about 15 people in a jail unit were involved in the hunger strike.

"I can confirm that unit is a high-security, high-safety risk unit," Wilby said.

"I understand that the inmates are not pleased about a lack of access to the outdoors, as well as a lack of access to a gym. Due to the security and safety risks of that unit, those two privileges have been taken away."

Wilby said the inmates have access to move about the range, TV in their cells and access to programming as well.

They also have access to an elder and a preacher, he said.

Most of the offenders in the high-risk unit are there due to their gang affiliations, or as a result of their behaviour within the facility, he said.

According to the province, while the hunger strike is over, the inmates will still not have access to gym equipment or the outdoors.

However, a microwave will be placed on the unit and offenders will be allowed to an additional $10, per week, of their own money on canteen items.

The government stressed that a smudging unit — which it claimed had been planned for the unit well in advance of the hunger strike — will be operational within a week.

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