Editor’s note: the prisoners at the Burnside jail have ended their 20-day strike. They have issued this statement to the Halifax Examiner.
You are commended for your work on our behalf. None of us thought that we would gain so much support by sharing our conditions with the public. The negative perception of us inside seems so concrete that it became surreal when we began to read our demands in the newspaper, and hear that our situation has gained national attention.
When discussed among us, it was decided that the time has come to take a different approach, and this is the result of our different approach. Our non-violent strategy is a success. It has set a precedent for other counties to follow suit.
Although our protest has come to a close, and things seem to have worsened since the beginning as opposed to getting better, we hope that all those who stood with us through this time will continue to fight on our behalf – to write, congregate, and address our issues.
It is with heavy hearts we write that shortly after the end of our protest, a fellow prisoner incarcerated here lost his life. The conditions and environment here speak for themselves. Since the protests started we have been locked down with even less time spent outside, in contact with our families, or getting any recreation. We know how these conditions hurt the mental health of people imprisoned here.
We renew our calls for treatment of mental health, training, and programming. We ask the Minister of Justice: how many more people have to die in this facility until our cries for help are heard? We send our condolences and love to the family of our brother. We hope that our call for justice will be heard and that his life is not lost in vain.
We have come to the conclusion that this is an uphill battle that will only be won from the outside support, meaning all of you.
To the protestors who came right down through the woods to the back of the jail, risking their freedom to stand in solidarity with us, you gave us the most liberating feeling. We want you to know, we could hear you, and we believe you: we are not alone. Thank you. We love you, and are grateful to have you by our sides.
We would like to thank all those who stood with us. Seeing support from so many groups and individuals from so many different backgrounds gives us hope that with collective action, change can be made. We thank the BPH crew for making our voices heard, Solidarity Halifax for showing us that people will come together to fight for our rights, and the many groups, organizations, and individuals who took the time to write, call, and speak out on our behalf. We heard and saw it all, and we are grateful.
While our demands have not yet been met, and as we grieve this unnecessary tragedy, we remain hopeful that our words will be carried forward. We will continue to speak and fight until no more lives are lost.
“Each time you break away from the direction the system is trying to push you in, each new idea you have, each new book you read, each new business you create – all of them give you the power to dictate new choices. Today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday!” — Hill Harper.