Protesters in Tori Stafford's hometown angry over healing lodge transfer
Hundreds of angry protesters gathered Saturday in Tori Stafford’s hometown to oppose the transfer of one of her killers to an Indigenous healing lodge.
Stafford’s father joined the crowd outside a courthouse in Woodstock, Ont. to express outrage over Terri-Lynne McClintic’s move from an Ontario federal prison to a holistic Saskatchewan facility.
“This is somebody who received a 25-year max sentence and is in a healing lodge,” Rodney Stafford said.
Tori Stafford was eight years old when she was kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered in 2009. McClintic pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and is less than 10 years into her life sentence.
A jury found McClintic‘s boyfriend Michael Rafferty guilty of first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping. He also faces a life sentence.
Stafford’s family learned in September that McClintic was transferred to Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge near Maple Creek, Sask.
Healing lodges are minimum and medium-security facilities that use Aboriginal values, traditions and beliefs to design services and programs for offenders.
Those attending the Woodstock rally wore purple ribbons, Tori’s favourite colour, and chanted cries of “Send her back!” Organizers said 300 ribbons were gone in 20 minutes.
Tori’s grandmother, Doreen Graichen, said that when McClintic was sentenced, “we were told life means life.”
“She murdered my granddaughter, there’s no two ways about it, she admitted, that’s why she didn’t go to trial,” Graichen said.
Local Progressive Conservative MPP Ernie Hardeman joined the crowd to call for McClintic to be sent to a maximum security prison.
“She should be behind bars for life, like the judge told us she was going to be,” Ernie Hardeman, MPP for Oxford, told CTV.
A similar demonstration was held Friday on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Protesters vowed to continue to push for change, and an online petition for “Tori’s Law” has garnered thousands of signatures.
“It would mean life in prison for convicted murderers, living in a healing lodge is just unacceptable,” rally organizer Melissa Streatch said.
“We need them to be behind bars serving their life sentence for the 25 years they were convicted of.”
On Friday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said a report requested from Correctional Service Canada on how and why the transfer occurred has been delivered to him and is expected to be made public in coming days.
“We all want this system to be as good as it can possibly be for the protection of the public,” Goodale said Friday.
With a report from CTV Kitchener’s Natalie Van Rooy