No new Indigenous consultations after McClintic transfer: minister responds to interview
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is not refuting top Correctional Service Canada bureaucrats who told Global News in an exclusive interview there is no increased consultation with Indigenous communities regarding who gets into a healing lodge.
WATCH: A Global News exclusive interview with the power players behind Canada’s Indigenous healing lodges
After the transfer of child killer Terri-Lynne McClintic to Saskatchewan’s Okimaw Ohci lodge sparked national outrage, she was sent to a traditional prison in November, and Goodale announced a number of policy changes for all female offender transfers.
He billed those changes as new, saying, “CSC will now consider additional factors,” such as offender behaviour and sentence length.
But CSC told Global News that “for the most part,” those factors were already looked at in practice.
“They were always taken into consideration,” said Women Offender Sector Director General Andrea Moser. Changes, Moser said, are more about putting things in writing. “Without definition in policy, it’s not clear.”
With the McClintic transfer in the spotlight, Indigenous stakeholders voiced concerns about the lack of authority over who gets into healing lodges.
When Canada’s first lodge was developed in the early ‘90s, Indigenous elders approved who got inside, said Sharon McIvor, who was one of the visionaries behind Okimaw Ohci and sat on the task force that redesigned women’s prison in Canada.
In 2005, a slew of changes gave CSC the ultimate control as to who gets in.
“Taking the elders out of the equation just really, really undermines everything,” McIvor told Global News.
In September, the Chief of the Nekaneet First Nation, where the lodge is based, said he hoped to see that decision-making reinstated.
It’s a concern Goodale is well aware of.
“[CSC] also agreed that there would be appropriate consultation with Indigenous leadership and Indigenous elders that had not adequately taken place previously,” he told Global News after the CSC interview.
WATCH: Indigenous advocates question why non-Indigenous offenders are serving in healing lodges
But Moser says there is no additional consultation happening with Indigenous communities — instead, it’s now just being written down.
“This is not something new,” Moser said. “What we’re doing now, though, is just ensuring that the consultation with the community in terms of accepting a woman at the Okimaw Ohci healing lodge, for example, that it’s documented.”
She said CSC is talking with Nekaneet about “how we can increase their engagement,” but that isn’t new either — “there’s a lot of interplay,” she said.
So Global News pushed back on Goodale’s claim about consultation “that had not adequately taken place previously,” pointing out to the minister that CSC said consultation changes were only about documentation.
“Well, that is a pretty big change,” Goodale responded. “And if they didn’t have it written down before, they better bloody well write it down.”
Because healing lodges are designed for offenders closer to their release, the part of the policy that sent McClintic back to a traditional prison has to do with how far along an offender is in serving their sentence. McClintic was handed a life sentence in the death of Tori Stafford in 2010.
“There were a variety of factors like that, that were not officially part of the policy prior to the review that I asked for,” Goodale said. “They are now part of that policy.”
The public safety minister also addressed CSC’s claim that McClintic’s original transfer to a healing lodge was not made in error, but was in line with policies at the time.
CSC told Global News multiple times there were no errors made at the time of the first transfer.
“It’s inaccurate to say there was a mistake made in that case,” Moser said.
Goodale’s version of events, however, was slightly different.
“The report that was produced indicated while there may have been some small technical missteps in the process, that the policy itself as it existed at that time had been applied in the appropriate way,” he told Global News.
One change announced in November was unequivocally new: decisions on female inmate transfers have to be approved at the national level, by the deputy commissioner for women, instead of at the regional level as had previously been the case.
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