The Closure of Kainai Corrections Centre: Is Aboriginal Justice being served?

May 27, 2010 :: Rick Soop
Moderated by James Moore


In the early 1990’s, each of the three Prairie Provinces held judicial inquiries into Aboriginal Justice. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples followed these inquiries with a National analysis. All of these important studies reviewed the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal peoples in the Canadian Justice System.

At present about 20% of federal offenders are Aboriginal. On the Prairies, provincial Aboriginal incarceration rates range from 35% in Alberta to 80% in Saskatchewan. In the words of Justice Cawsey from the Alberta Inquiry: “The only things that have worked for Natives have come from Natives”. There are consistent statistics demonstrating the decreased rate of reoffending or recidivism where Aboriginal offenders have gone through Aboriginal programming including healing lodges, ceremonies and opportunities to commune with Elders. Just this past winter, Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator for Correctional Services of Canada underlined these facts. Mr. Sapers emphasized the need for urgent action to improve support programs for Aboriginal prisoners or face a potential crisis.

In the face of these truths and the young and vulnerable demographic of the Aboriginal population, it defies logic that the Alberta Government would suddenly and arbitrarily decide to close the Kainai Minimum Security Corrections Centre and cut Aboriginal Correctional Programming on Reserves. It is in the interests of everyone in Alberta that these worthwhile programs on Kainai and other reserves be supported. The Director of Kainai Corrections will speak to this issue, its implications and what can be done about it.

Speaker: Rick Soop

Since his graduation with a political science degree from the University of Lethbridge in 1981, Rick Soop has worked in the Criminal Justice System. For the last 10 years Mr. Soop has been the Director of the Kainai Community Corrections Society. He is an active participant on various boards and committees for the Blood Tribe, and is helping to develop the Kainai Peacemaking Centre.

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