Sister of inmate who died at EMDC to walk 180 km to demand changes at troubled jail

Lynn Pigeau will be embarking on a 180-kilometre walk to demand changes at EMDC. 980 CFPL

A little more than a week after Ontario’s human rights commissioner sent a damning letter about London’s troubled provincial jail, one woman is embarking on a 180-kilometre walk to demand changes.

READ MORE: Conditions at EMDC ‘among the worst’ in Ontario, human rights commissioner says

Lynn Pigeau’s brother, James Pigeau, is among the 14 inmates who’ve died at EMDC since 2009.

“Jamie was in and out of the system quite a few times. He wasn’t diagnosed properly and with all of the treatment centres that are being shut down for addictions and mental health, where do you go? They’re not being rehabilitated to be put back into society so what do they do? They go back to familiar grounds — it’s a routine, they go back in there.”

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Speaking on 980 CFPL’s Craig Needles Show on Thursday, she said her brother kept a daily journal that documented the jail’s conditions.

“He really wanted changes to be done, not just for the inmates but for the guards also. He wrote a daily journal and that’s why when this report came out with Renu, it didn’t surprise me because everything that she (Mandhane) had said was in his journal so we already knew,” Pigeau said.

READ MORE: Ontario’s solicitor questioned about EMDC in wake of damning letter from human rights commissioner

Renu Mandhane, the province’s human rights commissioner, sent a scathing letter last Friday calling EMDC overcrowded, unsanitary and dangerous.

It’s those conditions that Pigeau and two others — the sister of another inmate who died at EMDC and a friend of Pigeau’s — will be marching against.

They’ll leave EMDC on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. and will stop to rally at different remand centres along the way to Queen’s Park.

READ MORE: Petition calls for emergency response buttons in cells at EMDC, other jails

While those without any personal connection to the jail may turn a blind eye to conditions, Pigeau stressed that many of the people dying in provincial jails are not violent offenders.

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“It can happen to anybody. You can be stopped, pulled over and whatever, and refusing a breathalyzer can land you in there,” she said.

“So it can happen to anybody. Good people make bad mistakes.”

Pigeau previously met with Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek on April 26 to discuss her concerns.

“I’m not going to go into details about what we talked about, but we did say — and he did agree — that we want to see something positive come out of EMDC and hopefully, it causes a ripple effect across Ontario. That was one thing that we both agreed on.”

When the province released its budget in April, the province pledged to hire more correctional officers and enhance security at EMDC.

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