‘There is no expectation of proof’ for offenders seeking transfer to Aboriginal healing lodges
Offenders looking to get a transfer out of prison and into a healing lodge do not have to prove they are Aboriginal.
Instead, they can self-identify.
And while Global News has confirmed with an official that Terri-Lynne McClintic, a convicted murderer recently transferred from prison to one such lodge, is Aboriginal, it is not clear whether she used that option or proved membership in a First Nations, Metis or Inuit community.
In response to a question from Global News, Correctional Services Canada said that while most offenders will have their ethnicity identified during the court process, they can also chose to declare themselves Aboriginal without needing to qualify for a status card or demonstrate accepted membership in a First Nation or Metis community.
Either a parole officer or someone from the offender’s case management team interviews the person during the court process, at which point they can identify as a First Nations, Metis or Inuit offender if they want to do so.
WATCH BELOW: Trudeau slammed about transfer of Tori Stafford’s killer to healing lodge
“Additionally, at any point in an offender’s sentence, they may choose to self-identify,” said Chantal Guérette, a spokesperson for Correctional Services Canada.
“Self-identification is based on an offender’s expression of their identity.”
If the offender is a member of a First Nation, they provide their band number to the court or corrections official.
However, if they are not a band member, they do not have to prove any other affiliation in order to have their claim of being Aboriginal accepted.
“As with any other designated group member (persons who self-identify as being of a visible minority group or a person with a disability), there is no expectation of proof,” Guérette wrote in an email.
Another spokesperson, Esther Mailhot, said the option is also available to people who are not aboriginal so long as they “choose to follow Aboriginal programming and spirituality when they live at a healing lodge.”
WATCH BELOW: Trial underway for Tori Stafford’s accused killer
The issue of who can be accepted into an Aboriginal healing lodge has been making headlines this week.
That’s because of the transfer of a woman convicted in the brutal murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford from an Ontario prison to a healing lodge in Saskatchewan.
Terri-Lynne McClintic, who Global News has confirmed is aboriginal, is serving a life sentence with no eligibility of parole for 25 years.
Past coverage of her sentencing did not make clear whether is Aboriginal and it is not clear whether she is a member of the First Nation, Metis or Inuit community.
However, she received the transfer to the open campus facility after serving less than 10 years from her sentence.
Stafford’s father told Global News Radio that decision is “not right.”
“Less than 10 years into her sentence, she’s already in a healing lodge out in Saskatchewan,” he said, “where she is living better than probably about a third of Canadians right now. It’s very upsetting.”
“Anybody who takes a vulnerable person’s life … they shouldn’t have the opportunity to be in a freaking healing lodge less than 10 years into a 25-year sentence.”
While Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Wednesday he has ordered a review of the transfer, he said he does not have the authority to reverse it.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Opposition in question period of politicizing the child’s death by questioning her killer’s transfer.
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