Iqaluit inmates transferred to Joyceville Institution after fire

A 737 transporting 30 inmates to be temporarily sheltered at Joyceville Institution arrives at Kingston’s Norman Rogers Airport.
Photo by John Andrew

Dozens of inmates who were displaced from a correctional centre in Iqaluit following a fire last week have been temporarily transferred to a Kingston-area correctional facility, confirms the Government of Nunavut.

The fire, which occurred at the Baffin Correctional Centre on Thursday, Mar. 18, 2021, was discovered by staff at the facility at approximately 3 p.m., said the Nunavut Department of Justice in an email to Kingstonist. Inmates and staff were evacuated safely and there are no reported injuries, said government officials.

“Our thanks go out to the hard-working fire fighters at the City of Iqaluit, other first responders, and the Corrections staff who reacted quickly to ensure the safety and health of everyone at the facility,” said Nunavut’s Minister of Justice, George Hickes, in a statement. “Due to the quick actions of facility staff and first responders, no one was injured during the fire.”

Immediately following the incident, inmates were placed in temporary accommodations with the support of the RCMP V Division, the Nunavut Court of Justice Sheriffs and the other correctional facilities within Iqaluit.

Half of the affected inmates were transferred to Kingston shortly thereafter. “Within 24 hours, the Department of Justice found suitable relocations for the inmates displaced by the fire. By working with our partners in Correctional Services Canada, we have transferred 30 inmates to a designated unit at the Joyceville Institution in Kingston late last week,” the Government said in a statement. The inmates arrived at Kingston’s Norman Rogers Airport in a Boeing 737 at around 8 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 19, 2021.

A 737 transporting 30 inmates to be temporarily sheltered at Joyceville Institution arrives at Kingston’s Norman Rogers Airport.
Photo by John Andrew

According to the Nunavut Department of Justice, the Baffin Correctional Centre has been free of COVID-19 since Feb. 26, 2021. Joyceville Institution was the site of a large COVID-19 outbreak in December of 2020, which has since fully resolved, according to Corrections Canada.

“As per our COVID-19 mitigation measures, all new admissions to CSC Facilities are medically isolated and screened for COVID-19,” said Correctional Services of Canada in a statement regarding the transfer of inmates. “The health and safety of employees, inmates and the public remain a top priority during this pandemic.”

CSC said it has put in place extensive infection prevention and control measures across its 43 institutions, which include mandatory mask for inmates and staff, physical distancing measures, active health screening of anyone entering their institutions, increased and enhanced cleaning and disinfection at sites, as well as training employees to conduct contact tracing and testing among inmates and staff, including asymptomatic individuals.

“We also put an enhanced focus on proper hand washing and proper cleaning and laundering protocols,” said CSC. “We made more extensive PPE available, as needed. Furthermore, we developed protocols to medically isolate inmates, when required, in order to mitigate the introduction of spread of the virus in our institutions.”

The remaining 30 inmates displaced by the fire were transferred to other correctional facilities within the territory. Maintenance crews are continuing to assess the damage to the facility and creating remediation plans to determine a timeline for reopening the BCC, and the RCMP are on site continuing to investigate the cause of the fire.

“I want to thank everyone involved in helping to resolve this situation, and ensuring the safety and security of staff and inmates at all times,” said Minister Hickes.

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