More than 20 people convicted of killing minors held in healing lodges since 2011
Published Tuesday, November 13, 2018 10:40PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2018 10:15PM EST
More than 20 people convicted of killing minors have spent time in Indigenous healing lodges since 2011, according to numbers released Tuesday by Public Safety Canada.
As of Sept. 23, 2018, there were 11 people living in Indigenous healing lodges who were convicted of first- or second-degree murder in the death of someone aged 18 or younger.
Earlier this fall, the transfer of Terri-Lynne McClintic to a healing lodge sparked public outrage. McClintic was convicted of killing eight-year-old Tori Stafford in 2009.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has since said he will tighten the rules around sending inmates to such facilities, but still sees value in the system
“Over the years, healing lodges have been used effectively within the correctional system,” Goodale said Wednesday.
Deputy Conservative Leader Lisa Raitt said she expects a deeper probe into which convicted murderers are living in healing lodges.
“I'm sure now there will be pressure on to find out who are the other 11 and what are their crimes and is it appropriate that they're in these healing lodges,” Raitt said.
Conservatives were highly critical of the Liberals’ handling of the McClintic case. But according to data released Tuesday, seven people convicted of killing minors were transferred to healing lodges during the 2013-2014 fiscal year under the Harper government -- more than any number of transfers since.
Former Conservative Justice Minister Peter MacKay said he was unaware of those transfers.
“I am certain that we would have reacted in a different way and we would have seen that this practice,” he said.
Healing lodges offer a spiritual approach to justice and reconciliation in lower security settings than prisons. Offenders receive Indigenous language lessons as well as family, nature and vocational classes.
“Healing lodges are correctional facilities that incarcerate offenders,” Public Safety Canada said in a statement. “They have a record of successfully dealing with difficult cases and can be the right correctional approach for certain offenders.”
Healing lodges play an important role in the justice system, according to Kassandra Churcher, National Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.
“I think in this age of reconciliation with our Indigenous communities, we need to not be criticizing and demonizing the one service that exists to support them,” Churcher said.
Here is the number of people held in healing lodges who were convicted of killing minors (figures in brackets show new transfers for that year):
- 2011-2012: 4
- 2012-2013: 4 (2)
- 2013-2014: 11 (7)
- 2014-2015: 6 (1)
- 2015-2016: 7 (3)
- 2016-2017: 7 (1)
- 2017-2018: 11 (3)
- 2018-2019: 11 (0)