Catherine McKay, convicted in deaths of Van de Vorst family, moved to healing lodge
Published Friday, February 24, 2017 10:09AM CST Last Updated Wednesday, March 1, 2017 10:47AM CST
Catherine McKay, the woman convicted of impaired driving in the deaths of a family of four, was relocated to a healing lodge about one month into her sentence.
Jordan Van de Vorst, 34, his 33-year-old wife Chanda, their five-year-old daughter Kamryn and two-year-old son Miguire were killed on Jan. 3, 2016, in the crash just north of Saskatoon. McKay was behind the wheel of the other vehicle.
McKay admitted to drinking at least seven drinks before attempting to drive home on the night of the crash.
Crown prosecutor Michael Pilon told court McKay was driving 120 kilometres an hour when she ran her SUV through a stop sign and struck the Van de Vorst family’s car driving along the four-lane Highway 11.
Her blood-alcohol level at the time was three times the legal limit.
Jordan and Chanda died at the scene. Five-year-old Kamryn and two-year-old Miguire died in hospital a few hours later.
In June 2016, McKay pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death and received a sentence of 10 years in prison. She was relocated to a healing lodge within a month, according to Lou Van de Vorst, Jordan's father.
“We expected she would get time served in a healing lodge, but we expected time served first of all in a federal penitentiary and then to the healing lodge,” he said.
He was notified of McKay’s relocation by Correctional Service Canada.
“It’s just a shock to hear that right away she’s going there. It’s as if the severity of the sentence is lessened somewhat because of where she is serving out her time,” Lou said.
“She hurt me. She hurt my wife. She hurt my other children, my grandchildren. She affected the first responders to that accident. She affected the police. All those people were affected by her actions that night, and in some way there’s got to be some kind of restitution.”
Healing lodges are federal institutions that see inmates take part in various rehabilitation programs.
Two facilities for women exist in Canada.
“Keep in mind, every individual who goes into jail, with a few exceptions, comes out,” said lawyer Leslie Sullivan. “Sooner or later an individual is released and it only makes sense that they be put into the best possible position to come out and be functioning and, hopefully, a productive member of society.”
Sullivan represented McKay during her trial. She did not speak specifically Friday on McKay’s case or relocation, and instead spoke more generally.
“Every inmate in Canada would probably benefit from some aspect of the kind of programs that a healing lodge might offer that perhaps a maximum-security facility doesn’t offer.”
Offenders are chosen for the healing lodge facilities based on their risk levels and needs — such as their employment or education needs, family needs, substance abuse needs or emotional needs — but the reasons McKay was transferred to one of the two lodges for women in Canada are still not clear.
One of the two lodges is in Maple Creek, Sask., and the other is located in Edmonton. Both are minimum- or medium-security facilities.
Lou Van de Vorst was unable to confirm which lodge McKay is in, and correctional service officials did not share specific details on McKay’s case.
CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this story stated Catherine McKay was moved to a healing lodge seven months after her sentencing. She was moved within a month, according to Lou Van de Vorst. We also stated healing lodges house only indigenous offenders. This is incorrect. Non-aboriginal offenders can live at healing lodges, according to Correctional Service Canada. We regret these errors.