Letter to the Editor: Lynn Vandale — Oct. 30, 2012

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Today I’m writing to inform the general public of the situation in the jail/institution that some of us call home. At this time I’m one of them.

As some of you may know, jail is not a pretty place; however home is our comfort zone and being institutionalized here at Pine Grove Correctional Centre, it becomes our home for a period of time.

We like to feel comfortable and treated with the same respect as the staff/guards would want to receive. At times, this does not occur.

As a result, some of us get cranky, upset, offended, mad, worried etc. In my eyes, this negativity falls through, conflict begins, inmates get into trouble when they speak their minds. We get locked up just for freedom of speech, sometimes with no showers, no food, no medical, no proper clothing for days on end.

Is this right?

What is going on in our institutions these days? People are dying, there is too much bullying; we should be taught to respect each other, including the staff. They should show respect if they want respect.

Being a guard in an institution is not an easy job, especially after years and years, but it doesn’t give you the right to call someone an idiot or for a nurse to roll her eyes just because you are in pain and need medical attention. Everyone has problems and nobody is perfect.

I’m sick to my stomach from what I’ve seen so far.

It’s time for change. This place is stale like a potato chip that has been sitting for over 100 years.

Something has to be done. Change is positive; action for change could be the next step to success in the overcrowded institution most of us call home.


Lynn Vandale

Inmate on remand

Pine Grove Correctional Institutional

Organizations: Pine Grove Correctional Centre

Geographic location: Pine Grove

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Recent comments

  • skeptic
    November 03, 2012 - 14:28

    I hate to say it, but I agree with Mr, er Dr. Hall. Saskatchewan isn't really growing, just a high first nations birth rate. Many of those on reserve. The rest of growth is from immigrants Brad Wall is trying to ship in. Growth from movement between provinces? Basically zero. So, representing about half the growth in Saskatchewan, and unrelated to the "economy" that Wall brags about, First Nations youths are HUGE to the future of our province. But, as Hall points out, they are taught in schools, run by selfish if not corrupt, First Nations leaders, with self interest in those funds. Yes, learning English and a new culture in the 1950's was likely tough (a couple hundred years after the English got here so far from surprising) BUT no different than our German and Ukrainian ancestors who were forced to speak English in school, for fear of the strap. That's just how the 40's and 50's were. Really, just the last 20 years where we get up in arms over corporal punishment. Point is, right now, despite all the "boom" talk, 1/2 of Saskatchewan's growth is the booming birth rate of First Nations, and far from a boom, this represents a HUGE strain on the economy, IF the government cannot find a way to improve their education and work force participation. NEXT time a Sask Party candidate cites the "booming population" ask them 1. how do they have ANYTHING to do with the first nations birth rate and 2. given the lack of skilled labor, engineers and technologists, what is THEIR plan to encourage First Nations youths to pursue these careers, short of mandating Cameco and others to hire less than qualified First Nations subcontractors for site security, or gopher level work?! Good comment Dr. Hall, you should consider a letter to the editor, to the Star Phoenix, get some people asking Wall the tough questions!

  • Dennis Hall
    October 30, 2012 - 18:07

    Every time any of us travel through Saskatoon’s “hood” or Regina’s “Scott-Albert” area or similar areas in other cities, we get yet another in-our-face reminder of the short sightedness of the “devolution to band operation of schools” direction taken by successive federal governments starting in the 1960s. Initially in the 1800s the Canadian government and churches partnered to run residential schools in Canada. Subsequently, the government operated day schools on reserves. Among other things, a principal objective of these schools, both the residential and day schools, was to assimilate First Nations Youths into European values and standards. To make them self-sufficient, self-directing, responsible and contributing members of a society based on European values. The fact that these schools were havens for abuse is enormously prejudicial and has distracted us from several other important facts: (a) those schools did produce tens of thousands of graduates who had the skills to be self-sufficient, self-directing, responsible and contributing members of society, (b) funds to run those schools were kept away from chiefs and band councilors, and (c) teachers working in those schools were protected from petty politics that would inhibit their ability to practice their profession without fear of reprisal and or frequent termination for simply saying and necessary "no" to their students. Our federal, provincial and municipal governments and all of us should not let our vision be so clouded in this regard as to lose sight of another related factor. It should be termed the proverbial “elephant in the living room.” Increasingly, Canadian employers are looking abroad for skilled employees. We are importing them from around the world. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of First Nations People are right here in our faces - but without the fundamental work and life skills that employers want and jobs require. From the youngest ages, most Canadian youths learn to see schooling as the route to “the good life” for themselves. On the other hand, First Nations youths and their parents and extended family members do not see schools in the same way. As a result and in spite of heroic efforts by First Nation schools staffs, their school attendance and performance is not good. They grow up to be unskilled, unemployable, dysfunctional and destined to live in poverty with virtually no stake in living by Canadian society’s standards and laws. Consequently they cost the federal government as well as provincial and municipal governments vastly disproportionate amounts in policing, incarceration and social assistance resources. I submit that while the turning over of management (termed “devolution”) of on-reserve affairs by the federal government to First Nations was and may remain somewhat justifiable, management of reserve schools by First Nations falls into a different category and should not have been included. It hasn’t worked and we must admit it. Our governments must intervene and take over schools on reserves. Even if we, the Canadian tax payers, have little moral conscience and patience in this regard, our simple understanding of economics should move us in this direction. Deal with the problem now or pay astronomically more to deal with it later. Consider this. What’s the cost-benefit difference between not spending what we currently spend through policing, incarceration and social services for one First Nations person versus producing an employable, self-sufficient and able-to-contribute member of society? Dennis Hall, M.Ed. (Admin) Ph.D., Retired Teacher and Principal, Saskatoon