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Correctional Service Canada strengthens supports for Indigenous offenders

·5 min read

OTTAWA, ON, July 28, 2021 /CNW/ - Today, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) announced renewed agreements with Indigenous governments and organizations to operate three healing lodges for federal offenders. The agreements strengthen CSC's commitment to the care, custody and reintegration of Indigenous men and women.

On March 31, 2021, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, along with CSC and Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA), signed a three-year term renewal for the Agreement between the Government of Canada and NCSA, made under section 81 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) in support of the operations of the Stan Daniels Healing Centre and Buffalo Sage Wellness House, in Edmonton, Alberta. These healing lodges provide correctional services in an environment that incorporates Indigenous values, traditions and beliefs.

Most recently, the Honourable Bill Blair, along with CSC, renewed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nekaneet First Nation for the operation of the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge (OOHL), CSC's healing lodge for Indigenous women. This additional twenty-five year term will expire on July 4, 2044.

Section 81 of the CCRA provides Indigenous communities with the opportunity to deliver correctional services to offenders wanting to incorporate Indigenous values, traditions and beliefs in their healing journey. These agreements allow for a unique approach to Indigenous corrections that is culturally responsive and inclusive of Indigenous communities that help offenders and contribute to the best possible public safety results for Canadians.

Providing access to healing lodges is part of CSC's actions in the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, the Government's contribution to the National Action Plan in response to the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Call to Action #35 called upon the federal government to eliminate barriers to the creation of additional healing lodges within the federal correctional system. These renewals allow CSC to continue to address the Calls brought forth by the Inquiry and the Commission while working towards enhancing correctional outcomes for Indigenous women and gender-diverse people.

Partnerships with Indigenous governments and organizations, including the Nekaneet First Nation and NCSA, are essential to strengthening our approach to correctional services and reintegration support for Indigenous offenders. They enable an Elder-assisted, residential healing environment with a holistic Indigenous approach. Healing lodges help offenders address the unique systemic and background factors that have negatively impacted them directly or indirectly and potentially led to their incarceration.

At all levels of the criminal justice system, including corrections, we must work collaboratively to address the disproportionate over-representation of Indigenous peoples in corrections and improve the gaps in correctional results between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. The extension of OOHL and the renewal with NCSA help us work to address these issues and support the safe and successful reintegration of Indigenous offenders back into our communities.

Quotes

"Community-based programming, interventions and support services are critical contributions to the Government's focus on building a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples. As we work towards reconciliation, ensuring that Indigenous stakeholders are meaningfully engaged in our correctional system is critical to the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of Indigenous offenders."

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

"We are strongly committed to reconciliation and continued work with Indigenous partners and Elders. A culturally appropriate approach to federal corrections, which is responsive to the unique needs, and reflective of the cultural realities of Indigenous offenders, continues to be one of our top priorities as an organization. CSC would like to thank Native Counselling Service of Alberta, all healing lodges, and the Nekaneet First Nation for their collaboration and engagement in the development and delivery of services to the First Nations, Inuit and Métis offender population. It is through ongoing collaboration that we can truly make a difference and help offenders turn their lives around."

Anne Kelly, Commissioner, Correctional Service Canada

"Native Counselling Services of Alberta joins Correctional Service Canada in celebrating the signing of the renewal for the Section 81 Agreement between the Government of Canada and NCSA for the continued operation of the Stan Daniels Healing Centre and Buffalo Sage Wellness House in Edmonton, Alberta. The renewed relationship with NCSA is also a renewed commitment by Minister Blair to continue strengthening relationships with Indigenous communities. It also opens the door for other Indigenous communities and organizations to move towards the opening of new Section 81 healing lodges, which contribute to the protection of society through the reintegration of Indigenous offenders in settings that incorporate Indigenous values and cultural practices."

Dr. Allen Benson, Chief Executive Officer, Native Counselling Services of Alberta

"I am pleased that we have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with Correctional Service Canada in good will and in the spirit of the original vision for the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge. I look forward to another 25 years of Nekaneet working with CSC to provide Indigenous women the interventions that they need. The incorporation of traditional healers, medicines and Nekaneet Elders in programs provides good care for the women. I look forward to continuing our partnership with CSC and strengthening our relationship together on a traditional healing path in the spirit of reconciliation."

Chief Alvin Francis, Chief of Nekaneet First Nation

Quick facts

  • CSC offers a broad range of Indigenous-specific correctional programs to meet the needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis men and women offenders from intake to warrant expiry. These include: Indigenous Integrated Correctional Program Model (IICPM), Inuit Integrated Correctional Program (IICP), and Indigenous Women Offender Correctional Programs (IWOCP) including Women Sex offender program (WSOP).

  • OOHL is a 60-bed multi-level security facility for minimum and medium security Indigenous women located on the Nekaneet First Nation, near Maple Creek (SK).

  • CSC has ten healing lodges, six of which are managed by Indigenous communities under Section 81 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), they include: Waseskun (QC), Ochichakkosipi (MB), Stan Daniels Healing Centre (AB), Buffalo Sage Wellness House (AB), Prince Albert Grand Council (SK) and Eagle Women's Lodge (MB).

  • Stan Daniels Healing Centre is a minimum security facility and a Community Residential Facility (CRF) for Indigenous men offenders. Buffalo Sage Wellness House is a minimum security facility and a CRF for Indigenous women offenders.

  • Stan Daniels Healing Centre has an accommodation capacity of 73 beds for Indigenous men offenders, while Buffalo Sage Wellness Centre has 28 beds for Indigenous women offenders.


Associated links

SOURCE Correctional Services of Canada

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View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/July2021/28/c8085.html

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