CBSA Laval Immigration Holding Centre, Laval, Quebec
March 24, 2020- Ongoing

Between ten and thirty people at an immigration detention center near Montreal began a hunger strike on March 24 to protest the inadequate measures to prevent their exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Their demands include their immediate release as well medical attention to reduce the risk of COVID-19 contamination.

The hunger strike follows a formal handwritten complaint that was sent to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, CBSA President John Ossowski, and other government officials on March 19, that demanded their immediate release. The letter was signed by three dozen prisoners.

Abdoul, a man from Senegal participating in strike, described the conditions of the strike and the facility, saying “We all feel like we’re getting weaker. We haven’t eaten for 24 hours. But we’re still holding on. We don’t want to wait for death here. We want to be safe like all other people. We just want to be treated normally.”

By Saturday, March 28, four men were still refusing food as the hunger strike stretched into a fifth day. Abdoul remained on strike on the 28th and reiterated his commitment to continue his hunger strike despite what he described as pressure and intimidation tactics by some of the centre officials, according to the Canadian Press

The facility in Laval, Quebec, is run by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Citations:

Immigration Detainees Are on a Hunger Strike Over Coronavirus Fears“, Vice, March 26, 2020.

Coronavirus: Four men continue hunger strike at immigration monitoring centre in Laval“, Global News, March 28, 2020.

Article published: 3/29/2020

Header photo source: Montreal Gazette