Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility

Sheena Hoszko
Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility

Nasrin Himada
The Gift of Grief is Care

Presented as part of Collective Welfare, Circuit 5 ofTake Care. The publication includes a zine with a project description by Sheena Hoszko and letter by Nasrin Himada, and an excerpt from Federal Correctional Facilities Accommodation Guidelines set by Correctional Service Canada (CSC).


Download the zine.
Download the excerpt.


Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility is a sculptural artwork based on the Federal Correctional Facilities Accommodation Guidelines set by Correctional Service Canada (CSC). Obtained by the artist in 2015 via an access-to-information request, this 700-page document is used by CSC for the building, maintenance, and everyday operations of prisons. In a section titled “Mental Healthcare Facility,” CSC outlines the locations and spatial dimensions required for waiting rooms, bathrooms, and staff offices for prison mental healthcare wings.

People with severe trauma and mental illnesses, due to a lack of resources for their care on the outside, are disproportionately imprisoned by CSC. [1] Parallel to this, symptoms of mental illness increase when people are incarcerated; the notion of “care” in a carceral context is an oxymoron, as the conditions of imprisonment are incongruent with treatment or rehabilitation. [2]

Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility consists of two closed structures installed in an atrium of the Communication, Culture, and Technology (CCT) Building at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and positioned midway between the Blackwood’s two gallery spaces. The installation dimensions conform to the CSC’s ten-square metre minimum spatial requirements for mental healthcare waiting rooms and treatment rooms. In this installation, these spaces are constructed out of rented pipe and drape, a type of temporary architecture often used for dividing spaces within warehouses, stadiums, office buildings, and other open environments. “Walls” of pipe and drape hang from poles to the floor, recalling dividers from ambiguous institutional spaces, like hospital curtains or cubicle separators—a provisional architecture that simultaneously reveals and hides. The rooms are positioned under a staircase and close to the atrium windows; unable to enter the structures, viewers are relegated to the outside. The project understands prison as a system of power relations that extends far beyond concrete block walls, and asks “outsiders” to position themselves within this dynamic. After the exhibition, the materials are returned to the rental company to be used again, suggesting that structures of confinement circulate widely throughout society.

Accompanying the installation is a zine produced by Hoszko, which includes a letter to the artist from Nasrin Himada that is also featured in this publication. This is Himada’s second letter to Hoszko about Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility. Himada’s first letter, written for this project’s exhibition at The New Gallery in Calgary, reads, in part:
“Those on the outside who have never been inside a Canadian prison, who have never been incarcerated, don’t know what that space looks like, how it functions, what it does, and how it conditions and perpetuates violence. By providing a glimpse into the design elements of CSC you allow us to think further about the accountability of practitioners, such as architects and designers, and how the building of prisons extends beyond a national issue, as a capitalist, global project.
Prisons function as the implementation of new borders, and people are fundamentally separated from each other based on this fact. The inside and outside become a specific boundary. Creating the infrastructure creates a border, and people are separated from the population, the public realm. Carceral spaces are based on separation and isolation. I feel, Sheena, that your work challenges this violent manoeuvre. To have us walk around a gallery, reconstituted as a carceral space, is to let us wonder about the effects of inside/outside. By having our bodies move, you allow us to think about the space differently, to experience the effects of enclosed space, perhaps affectively. That is because your sculptural work specifically considers the repressive elements of space in scale, precise measurement, and in construction. The design process is as important as the concept, and you remind us of this relationship between making, ethical positioning, and power.” [3]

[1] Fiona G. Kouyoumdjian, Andrée Schuler, Stephen W. Hwang, and Flora I. Matheson, “Research on the Health of People Who Experience Detention or Incarceration in Canada: A Scoping Review,” BMC Public Health 15, no. 419 (April 25, 2015).
[2] Peter Collins, “The Pathology of Rehabilitation,” Scapegoat 7 (Fall/Winter 2014): 217–32.
[3] Nasrin Himada, “Letter to Sheena Hoszko,” November 26, 2016. Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility 10m2 x 2. The New Gallery, 2016.

Artist Biographies

Sheena Hoszko is a sculptor, anti-prison organizer, and settler living and working in Tio'tia:ke (Montreal), in Kanien'kehá:ka territory. Her art practice examines the power dynamics of geographic and architectural sites, and is informed by her family’s experiences with incarceration and the military. Selected solo exhibitions include Centre Clark and La Centrale (Montreal), A Space (Toronto), Artspace (Peterborough), The New Gallery (Calgary) and Forest City Gallery (London), with upcoming projects at articule (Montreal). She is also an avid sci-fi/speculative fiction fan.

Nasrin Himada is a Palestinian writer and curator based in Tio'tia:ke (Montreal), in Kanien'kehá:ka territory. Her practice and research explores the politics of contemporary art practice, specifically focusing on experimental and expanded cinema, and contemporary media arts. Her writings have been published in Contemp+rary,C Magazine, Critical Signals, The Funambulist: Politics of Space and Bodies, Fuse Magazine, and MICE Magazine, among others.


Texts by Sheena Hoszko and Nasrin Himada

Copy Editor: Jeffrey Malecki

Designer: Eveline Lupien

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The Blackwood Gallery gratefully acknowledges the operating support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the University of Toronto Mississauga.

The Blackwood Gallery is grateful for additional support for Collective Welfare from the Graduate Expansion Fund, Department of Visual Studies, and Women and Gender Studies (UTM).

Funding for staff support was made possible through the Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations Graduate Internship program, Department of Canadian Heritage. The Canadian Museums Association administers the program on behalf of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Related Projects

Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility
February 12–March 11, 2018
Collective Welfare, Circuit 5/5 of Take Care