N.W.T. temporarily housing 10 inmates after Nunavut prison fire

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A file photo of the North Slave Correctional Complex in Yellowknife. The N.W.T. is housing 10 inmates from Nunavut displaced by a fire at the Baffin Correctional Centre on March 18. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
A file photo of the North Slave Correctional Complex in Yellowknife. The N.W.T. is housing 10 inmates from Nunavut displaced by a fire at the Baffin Correctional Centre on March 18. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

The N.W.T. will temporarily house 10 former inmates of the Baffin Correctional Centre following a fire at the facility, according to Nunavut officials.

In an email, Justice Minister George Hickes confirmed the whereabouts of 60 inmates at the facility, either on remand or serving a territorial sentence, who have been relocated to various sites across the country over the past week.

Last Tuesday, the territory announced the transfer of 30 inmates to a designated unit at the Joyceville Institution in Kingston, Ont.

On Friday, Yukon officials confirmed they were taking temporary custody of 20 inmates. Hickes confirmed in his response that the remaining 10 would be housed in the Northwest Territories.

"We want to sincerely thank our federal, provincial and territorial partners for their efforts and support in dealing with this issue," Hickes' statement reads.

His statement says relatives of inmates will be provided with updated contact information for their loved ones.

The inmates were displaced by a fire March 18, the damage of which is still being assessed. There is no timeline yet for when the inmates, some of whom have not yet stood trial, may be returned to their home territory.

Hickes noted that six government of Nunavut corrections employees "have stayed behind in the Yukon to provide assistance with supervision of Nunavut inmates."

A government of Yukon release later specified that it includes four correctional officers, one supervisor and a nurse, and that Nunavut's inmates will be housed in a separate unit.

In a written statement, Sue Glowach, senior communications advisor with the N.W.T. Department of Justice, said it's not unusual for the territory to house inmates from Nunavut.

"On most days there are Nunavut inmates held in N.W.T. corrections facilities," Glowach wrote.

Glowach also confirmed that N.W.T. Corrections was able to handle the new inmates with their current staffing, and following current COVID-19 safety protocols.