Manitoba Daily

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Inside Manitoba’s Stony Mountain Institution, Grand Chief’s band performs for the inmates

For inmates at Manitoba's Stony Mountain Institution, Grand Chief's band performs

Key Takeaways:

  • CTV News was granted special access on Friday when community partners gathered inside the prison gates for an afternoon of entertainment, dining, and dancing.
  • Budd is aware of how the prison is known. There have been fatalities while in detention, stabbings, and drug seizures.
  • Only 5% of the population and 30% of federal prisoners in Canada are Indigenous, according to a recent assessment by the country’s correctional inspector.

Inmates at Stony Mountain Institution came together last week to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Friday, as community partners gathered inside the prison walls for an afternoon of music, dancing, and feasting, CTV News was given unique access. This was a part of a grand chief from Manitoba’s outreach program to Canadian Indigenous people, who are overrepresented in the country’s criminal justice system.

Jonas Budd, a 52-year-old Cree man from Saskatchewan serving a life sentence without the possibility of release for at least 14 years for second-degree murder, said, “I wouldn’t encourage anybody to come here.”

Budd is aware of the prison’s reputation. In-custody fatalities, stabbings, and narcotics seizures have all occurred there. The inmates residing there now serve long sentences for some of the most heinous crimes.

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“I won’t deny that when I first arrived, it was a major culture shock,” said Larry Duck, a 31-year-old member of the Onigaming First Nation in Ontario. I’m not used to being in this kind of setting.”

The prison yard was transformed into an outdoor concert venue for a few hours.

Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak lead the performance.

He had already visited the prison, but he brought Keewatin Breeze this time.

When Settee visited Stony Mountain Institution, he noticed a picture of Johnny Cash on the wall, so he asked Janalee Bell-Boychuk, the Warden, whether his band might perform.

Laura Kirby, manager of assessment as well as an intervention at Stony Mountain Institution, said, “We strive to observe National Indigenous Peoples Day every year, but this particular event is unique.”

The band covered Trooper’s “We’re Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time)” as their opening number. Settee then played “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones.

Some male attendees asked them to play “Folsom Prison Blues,” which they did.

A feast, a powwow performance, and a drum group made up of prisoners, including Duck, took place.

While completing a 15-year term in the institution’s Pathways program, which focuses on Indigenous healing, he is reestablishing his cultural ties.

Duck stated, “I engage in ethnic ceremonies, wear sweats, and rediscover how to live my culture again.

Officer's throat slashed by inmate at Stony Mountain Institution, union  president says | CBC News
For inmates at Manitoba’s Stony Mountain Institution, Grand Chief’s band performs. Image from CBC News

According to a recent study by Canada’s correctional inspector, just 5% of the nation’s population and 30% of federal prisoners are Indigenous people. The grand chief’s visit is mostly motivated by this.

I merely wanted to take that action to convey to our families that they matter and that we will be ready for them when they cross over, Settee added. “Everyone deserves a second opportunity, so we want to be able to give them the hope to begin a new life.”

Budd was moved by the message.

He claimed there is no assurance that a lifer will ever be released.

He’s been participating in sweat lodge rituals and collaborating with elders in the institution’s Spiritual Lodge for the past three months.

“About my culture, I’m learning a lot. Because I am a product of the Sixties Scoop and my parents are products of the residential institutions, I am learning a lot about myself. It is assisting me in my recovery path.”

Days like this serve as both a reminder of the anguish endured by First Nations people and a source of optimism for the future.

The prisoners who took part in the event signed up to attend.

They all came from the prison’s medium-security wing.

According to the Canadian Correctional Service, attendees were told they could make a $5 gift for the event’s food, but it wasn’t necessary to do so.

Source: CTV News

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