Sask. adding cultural services to four correctional centres to reduce reoffending
SASKATOON -- Cultural lodges are set to be built at Saskatoon Correctional Centre, Prince Albert Correctional Centre, Regina Correctional Centre and Kilburn Youth Hall, a Saskatchewan government spokesperson told CTV News.
“The services include lodge ceremonies, pipe ceremonies, one-on-one elder counselling, smudging, traditional feasts, tipi teachings, medicine wheel teachings, traditional parenting, sharing circles, drumming, singing, beading, drum making and, when possible, gathering traditional medicines,” said Ministry of Justice spokesperson Margherita Vittorelli.
These services facilitate lifestyle choices that help reduce recidivism, she said. Each cultural lodge is anticipated to cost $230,000 and the province expects to break ground in early spring.
People with Indigenous or Metis ancestry accounted for 75 per cent of the adult jail population during the 2019-20 fiscal year, according to the province. That figure was 85 per cent for youth in custody.
“The opportunity to see lodges opened up in Saskatchewan in some of the correction institutions is important,” said Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network CEO Margaret Kisikaw Piyes.
Kisikaw Piyes, who has seen first-hand how healing lodges work, believes offering these services will lead to fewer Indigenous people reoffending.
”It’s important as we move forward, as we look for solutions for Indigenous people, that we are looking for those solutions through the lens of Indigenous people.”
The John Howard Society, a non-profit organization focusing on effective responses to crime and prison reform, believes it’s a step in the right direction.
“We can spend gobs and gobs of money on more policing and more cells and all those things, that sort of support our current justice system but an investment like this could have a real impact on reducing crime in Saskatchewan,” said CEO Shawn Fraser.
“When we consider what it cost to keep someone in prison versus what it costs to keep someone in the community. That really needs to be our goal is to get people out of prison and keep them out of prison.”
Currently, cultural lodges are completed at Paul Dojack Youth Centre and Pine Grove Correctional Centre.