Manitoba

Manitoba announces $2.6M for healing lodges at correctional centres in Brandon, The Pas

Manitoba will establish two healing lodges at correctional centres in Brandon and The Pas, providing cultural connection and support for Indigenous offenders in those facilities while aiming to reduce their risk to reoffend, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen says.

Traditional ceremonies, land-based experiences will allow Indigenous offenders to heal: province

Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen says the Standing Together Healing Lodges at the correctional centres in Brandon and The Pas will help people serving time at the correctional facilities focus on their treatment goals and move onto different paths once they leave. (Province of Manitoba)

Manitoba will establish two healing lodges at correctional centres in Brandon and The Pas, providing cultural connection and support for Indigenous offenders in those facilities while aiming to reduce their risk to reoffend, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced at a news conference on Monday.

The Standing Together Healing Lodges at the correctional centres in Brandon and The Pas will help support inmate education, language acquisition, family reunification and sobriety, while building a connection to their community, Goertzen said.

Time spent in a correctional facility should not go to waste, Goertzen said, and the healing lodges will use traditional ceremonies, teachings and land-based experiences to allow participants to heal.

"Ultimately, what happens within the correctional facility is indicative of what will happen outside."

The new healing lodges are part of a "continuum of care," said Goertzen, which will help individuals serving time at the correctional facilities focus on their treatment goals and move onto different paths once they leave.

The healing lodges are also a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 36th call to action, said a news release from the province. It calls on federal, provincial and territorial governments to work with Indigenous communities to provide culturally relevant services to Indigenous offenders.

Edwin Wood, manager of the justice program at Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), said he and MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee were overwhelmed by the province's announcement.

"Elders have always taught us that the path to true healing, to truth and reconciliation, is our traditions, our culture, ceremonies, languages," he said at the Monday news conference.

Edwin Wood, manager of the justice program at Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, says he and MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee were overwhelmed by the province's announcement. (Province of Manitoba)

The establishment of the healing lodges is significant, Wood said, because Indigenous offenders serving time in correctional facilities often tell him: "If I'd learned earlier who I was, where I came from or my language, I probably wouldn't be here today."

"Today's a testament of what working together can do," Wood said, calling it a "great, momentous day."

A one-time capital investment of $1.4 million from the province will go toward the construction of the two new buildings at the correctional centres in Brandon and The Pas, said Goertzen, and another $1.2 million will be invested in annual staffing and operating costs once the healing lodges are functional.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Özten Shebahkeget is an online reporter at CBC Manitoba. She is a member of Northwest Angle 33 First Nation, born and raised in Winnipeg's inner city. She recently completed the master of fine arts writing program at the University of Saskatchewan where she wrote a speculative verse novel set at the Manitoba legislative building. You can reach her at ozten.shebahkeget@cbc.ca.

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