Prisoner Legal Services filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission on behalf of a 29-year-old Two-Spirit First Nations member after experiencing harassment and violence from correctional officers and law enforcement officials. held in at least four prisons, including Kent Institution. .
According to a statement from their legal team released last week, Nick Dinardo, who uses them / them pronouns, informed the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) of his gender identity last year and asked to be transferred to a establishment for women. Instead, Dinardo has since been transferred between several men’s institutions, where they have experienced violence, harassment and isolation in structured response units. Their requests to be transferred to an institution dedicated to women – where they would feel safer and more able to express their gender – were rejected.
Two-Spirit refers to a person who identifies as having both a male mind and a female mind, used by some Indigenous peoples.
“Nick was repeatedly subjected to physical force by correctional officers, and in May 2021, officers broke his arm,” the statement said. “Officers openly discussed Nick’s gender identity, putting Nick’s safety at risk. Prisoners and staff called them transphobic insults. “
Lawyers say Dinardo has not showered for about two months because they fear more violence and harassment if they leave their cell.
The other three institutions affected by Dinardo’s complaint in 2021 are Atlantic Institution and Shepody Healing Center in New Brunswick and Port Cartier Institution in Quebec.
Dinardo, a member of the Piapot First Nation, has a family that has survived residential schools and a history of trauma and abuse.
“CSC wrote that it was looking for gender identity disorder specialists for me, but my sex and culture is not a mental disorder,” Dinardo said in a statement. Dinardo’s complaint asserts that the inability to live freely and safely as a Two-Spirit person is the result of colonization and genocide against indigenous peoples.
Last July, Dinardo filed another human rights complaint against the Correctional Service of Canada for failing to address mental health needs and for responding to their emotional distress through violence and isolation. – including the use of pepper spray and officers in riot gear. This complaint is ongoing.
CSC said it was aware of the complaint but declined to comment further.
“We have not yet received this complaint and are therefore unable to comment on specific allegations. We take these complaints very seriously and will investigate them in detail.