Selected Urban Aboriginal Correctional Programs In Canada: A Program Review

Executive Summary

This is a descriptive report on seven selected urban Aboriginal correctional programs in Canada, chosen to provide an overview of the range of programs and services in the area. The report describes each of the services and programs in turn, and provides an analysis of the key issues facing the service providers, as well as the service purchasers, in particular the Correctional Service of Canada.

A very wide variety of service is found, ranging from residential facilities providing basic care, to residential facilities attempting to provide a comprehensive, holistic service to address a wide range of needs, to non-residential services of various types. Different approaches to service, staffing, training, counselling, funding, and other matters are also to be found.

The seven urban Aboriginal justice and correctional programs reviewed in this study face significant challenges. At the same time, these agencies are addressing tremendous and pressing needs of both clients and the criminal justice system. Each agency is faced with common, but location-specific problems and demands; each has provided unique and innovative responses. An important challenge before all parties is to listen and learn from each other in pursuit of a justice system that truly meets the needs of Aboriginal people in Canada's urban centres.

Various persons were interviewed for the study, including federal and provincial correctional managers and staff, Aboriginal agency managers and staff, and correctional clients. They were asked to identify key issues which are of daily concern to them. With respect to arrangements between aftercare service providers and federal and provincial governments, these include:

While key actors identified consultations with federal and provincial governments as important, there are a number of other issues which halfway house staff, in particular, identified as critical to future advancement of services in this area. These include:

Based on interviews with staff and government liaison officials, a national workshop involving halfway house service providers would be beneficial, and would likely contribute to the fruitful exchange of information for all parties.


Aboriginal justice issues have received significant attention in recent years by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal governments, communities, and criminal justice officials. While investigations into the administration of justice and Aboriginal people have been undertaken in virtually every jurisdiction in Canada, and while literally thousands of recommendations have been advanced to improve the delivery of services, there remain specific issues in which our collective knowledge base is wholly inadequate. The specific problems and challenges with respect to the justice system and Aboriginal people in urban centres is one such area. Despite Aboriginal, federal, provincial and municipal attempts to understand and improve the administration of justice, urban Aboriginal justice issues remain, in large measure, an enigma.

In October 1993, Solicitor General Canada contracted with Thérèse Lajeunesse and Associates Ltd to undertake a program review of Selected Urban Aboriginal Correctional Programs in Canada. The intent was to select programs in the largest cities which would provide an array of different types of urban Aboriginal correctional programs that have developed over the years. Some, such as Regina House, have been established for some time; others, such as Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, are in the process of developing a post-release program, but have established significant alternative programs to meet the needs of urban Aboriginal people in conflict with the law. The objective of the study was to review what currently exists in urban Aboriginal corrections through a descriptive review, and to identify future trends for planning and discussion purposes. The time frame for this study was from October 1993 to July 1994.

Programs included in this study are as follows: Allied Indian and Metis Society, Vancouver; Stan Daniels Correctional Centre, Edmonton; Gabriel Dumont Community Training Residence, Saskatoon; Regina House, Winnipeg; Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto; Maison Waseskun House, Montréal; and MicMac Native Friendship Centre, Halifax.

Briefly, the synopsis for each program includes the following:

In addition, interviews included issues and questions which could be raised in future national consultations on urban Aboriginal corrections.

The research undertaken for this project will, hopefully, help to increase our understanding of some of the needs experienced by Aboriginal offenders released to halfway houses in urban centres. In addition, this report demonstrates both some of the common themes and practices of urban Aboriginal corrections in each jurisdiction, as well as differing approaches to the problem in various urban centres. There remains, however, significant work to be undertaken by Aboriginal, federal, provincial and municipal governments if strides are to be made in improving justice services for urban Aboriginal people.


Semi-structured interview schedules were used and are included in Appendix A. Separate interview schedules were devised for: i) Director/staff; ii) clients; and, iii) regional or district representatives of Correctional Service Canada. Appendix B contains the names of Centre staff, and federal and provincial officials interviewed for this study.

Site visits were approximately four days in duration, and interviews were held with each Executive Director; Caseworkers; other staff; residents; and Correctional Service Canada representatives if appropriate. This was not done in Toronto as Aboriginal Legal Services do not operate a halfway house. The inclusion of this program in the review was to illustrate another type of urban programming which has been implemented for Aboriginal offenders.

Issues specific to Correctional Service Canada are included in a separate chapter of this report.

A limited review of the literature in urban corrections was conducted but, unfortunately, this report will be completed before the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples submits its report. It is expected that their research on urban perspectives will contribute to the ongoing discussion of problems facing many Aboriginal people in urban centres.

Selected Aboriginal Urban Research

The long-standing conflict between Aboriginal people and the Canadian justice system has only recently been the subject of significant investigation. Inquiries, task forces and commissions have been formed in nearly all jurisdictions by federal, provincial, municipal and Aboriginal governments to examine the cause, extent and possible solutions to the problem. Despite the myriad reports and recommendations, however, urban Aboriginal justice and corrections issues have often remained secondary to concerns about the administration of justice in rural and isolated communities.

Despite the lack of attention paid to urban Aboriginal justice issues, two recent reports have at least identified the problems facing both Aboriginal offenders and agencies providing services to this subgroup. The Task Force on the Criminal Justice System and its Impact on the Indian and Metis People of Alberta (1991), and the Manitoba Public Inquiry into the Administration of Justice and Aboriginal People (1991) provide the most detailed information collected by provincial, federal or jointly mandated bodies. Conversely, the Royal Commission in to the Prosecution of Donald Marshall, Jr. (1990), the Saskatchewan Indian and Metis Justice Reviews (1992), and the Royal Commission's Aboriginal Peoples and the Justice System (1993) provide little information on the issues of urban Aboriginal justice and corrections.

While the key findings of the Alberta and Manitoba investigations are presented below, it is important to note that nearly all the reports cited above identify some common characteristics with respect to urban Aboriginal justice issues:

The above represent some of the common themes found within major reports recently commissioned on Aboriginal peoples and the criminal justice system. As noted previously, however, only the Alberta Task Force and the Manitoba Inquiry move beyond these basic observations. The information uncovered by these bodies is presented below.


The Alberta Task Force advanced 340 recommendations in its 1991 final report to the Solicitor General of Canada and the Attorney General of Alberta. While proposing changes to the entire justice system, the Task Force stated that:

Two areas of Aboriginal people's involvement with the criminal justice system have received little attention. They are: youth and Aboriginal people in urban centres. The Task Force recommends that these areas be given much higher priority. (1-6: 1991)

In their assessment of urban Aboriginal issues, the Task Force noted that:

While it is true that a large portion (50-60%) of incarcerated Aboriginal offenders comes from major urban areas, it is also true that no easily identifiable Aboriginal community structure exists in these areas. This fact has made it most difficult to study the problem of urban Aboriginal people. The large number of Aboriginal offenders who come from large urban areas, seen in combination with the continuing migration of Aboriginal people to urban areas, demands that provincial government departments, municipal governments, service delivery agencies, and Aboriginal people address this issue urgently. (1-7:1991)

Unlike other examinations of Aboriginal justice issues, the Alberta Task Force paid particular attention to the need for improved services in urban centres. With respect to corrections, the Task Force noted:

While noting both the absence of data on and attention to urban Aboriginal justice issues, as well as programs which target Aboriginal people living in urban centres, the Task Force fails to shed significant light on: the specific needs of urban Aboriginal offenders (beyond the suggestion of life-skills training); urban halfway houses for Aboriginal offenders; or recommendations for further explorations of these issues. As with other inquiries, the Task Force seems to have noted, but not explored in depth, the plight of urban Aboriginal people in general and the needs of urban Aboriginal offenders, in particular.


The Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (1991) represents the most comprehensive and holistic examination of Aboriginal justice issues undertaken to date in Canada. Unfortunately, the limited attention paid by the Inquiry to urban Aboriginal justice issues is a significant omission.

As with the Alberta Task Force, the Manitoba Inquiry identified the current and expanding Aboriginal population in urban centres throughout the province, similar reasons for this exodus, and general issues with respect to urban Aboriginal offenders. Key factors identified by the Inquiry included: the absence of educational, housing, and employment opportunities for those who reside and arrive in such centres; the limited number of Aboriginal service providers; and the significant percentage of Aboriginal inmates and offenders whose crimes are committed in urban settings.

While the Manitoba Inquiry shed little light on the extent of the problem, it did provide more specific recommendations with respect to improving the impact of the administration of justice on Aboriginal people. With respect to correctional and other interventions, the Commissioners stated that:

As is the case with other programs designed to "help" people, we believe that programs that are based upon the cultures and traditions of Aboriginal people, and that involve Aboriginal methods of healing and personal conflict resolution, have a much greater chance of succeeding than do programs developed and managed by non-Aboriginal institutions. This is true in both urban and Aboriginal communities...

Key recommendations advanced by the Manitoba Inquiry included:

The Manitoba and Alberta investigations into the administration of justice and Aboriginal people provided the most extensive coverage of urban Aboriginal justice issues undertaken by provincial and federal review bodies. While both identified the need to address this issue, as well as advancing recommendations to overcome some general obstacles facing this subgroup, neither identifies, in any significant detail, the true extent of the problems facing Aboriginal people in conflict with the law in urban centres.

New Research

While inquiries and task forces have shed some light on urban Aboriginal justice issues, a recently completed and significant report entitled, Seen But Not Heard: Native People in the Inner City, by Dr. Carol La Prairie, identifies some of the issues mentioned in this review of urban aboriginal correctional Programs.

This research examined experiences of Aboriginal people in four large urban centres: Edmonton, Toronto, Regina and Montréal. The first of three reports, it describes the sample drawn from inner cities and reviews the response of the criminal justice system to Aboriginal offenders and victims.

Findings from this report are of relevance since, as noted above, most Aboriginal people commit their crimes in urban areas.

The findings indicate that this group of inner city residents had suffered from patterns of childhood disadvantage, deprivation and violence. Also, it was found that a high level of victimization was experienced by those who later went on to become offenders:

For adults who have suffered severe childhood trauma and chronic dislocation and instability, life is disproportionately characterized by alcohol problems, unemployment, victimization, involvement in the criminal justice system and general instability. (p. IV) ..... At an abstract level, most want the 'good life' but few have the resources to attain it. There are differences in potential to 'rehabilitate' people once in the inner city lifestyle. Many are controlled by their environment – loneliness which drives them into the lifestyle, alcohol and drugs which keep them there, memories which will not subside, systems of social control (criminal justice is particular), dependency on services (welfare, soup kitchens, drop-ins, hostels), lack of education and skills, and attitudes of and need for others in the same lifestyle. Rehabilitation tends to focus only on one aspect of their lives. (p. IX)

In terms of reserve life and background, there was considerable attrition from reserves and limited visiting. Spending more time on reserves does not correlate to a better quality of life as:

Intervening factors such as parental drinking, paternal unemployment, family violence and community status and acceptance may counteract the positive effects. (p.94) .... [F]or some who do have roots, belonging to communities can also have negative consequences. For example, the findings suggest a lack of a 'middle ground' on reserves – people who live on them either do very well or very badly. (p.94)

The situation is further compounded by the exclusion Aboriginal people face in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal worlds:

For many in the inner city, leaving reserves creates problems returning. While competition for scarce resources on reserves is part of the problem, there is often an implicit (and sometimes explicit) condemnation for leaving, involving accusations of rejecting the culture or the reserve lifestyle. (p. 104)

Those who migrate to cities come for different reasons: with their families; for education or jobs; when they were moved to foster homes; or to escape their troubled past.

For many, the inner city is both a trap and a haven. (p.95) .... While aspirations are similar to those in mainstream society, most native people would like to retain their cultural distinctiveness and to have services reflect culture but not to the detriment of achieving other goals. (p.98)

What is clear from the findings, only a few of which are mentioned here, is that the criminal justice system must find a different response to the special needs of these offenders:

The use of the criminal justice system to respond to social problems of such magnitude provides an understanding of the incarceration problem. In the context of the inner city, what is normally construed as crime by the outside world is an everyday event – involving survival, despair and hopelessness, violence, alcohol and drugs, and always reflecting people's lives and experiences. For many, punishment is routine and when meted out by the criminal justice system, only reinforces the view of themselves and their place in the world. (pp. 101-102)

The findings in this report echo needs identified by clients in urban correctional programs. The need to treat the person holistically, to provide cultural and spiritual teachings and guidance, to treat alcohol and drug abuse, and to provide education and employment opportunities would go a long way in assisting offenders in their respective rehabilitation processes.

We will return to these larger issues in the final chapter, after reviewing some of the urban Aboriginal correctional programs in Canada.

Aboriginal Urban Correctional Programs

a) Allied Indian and Metis Society. Vancouver, British Columbia

i) Introduction

The following description is based on interviews conducted with the officials listed below in March 1994:

ii) Historical Development

The Allied Indian and Metis Society (the Society) was initially established in response to needs identified by a group of Aboriginal inmates who wanted to obtain the skills necessary to become successful and productive members of society. At first calling itself the "Indian and Metis Educational Club", the group formed at B.C. Penitentiary in the late 1960's and was concerned about the whole array of social conditions that lead to criminality, such as early separation from families, the trauma of residential schools and alcohol and drug abuse. They wanted to maintain contact with groups on the outside who could meet their specific cultural needs. One focus of this initiative was education as few had achieved more than Grade Eight.

Once they recognized the limitations to operating from the "inside", they contacted Aboriginal organizations and the Allied Indian and Metis Society was formed by supporters from the "outside".

The only all-Native organization to provide services to incarcerated and conditionally released Aboriginal offenders in Vancouver, the primary objectives since its inception are:

A.I.M.S. has been in operation for over 21 years.

iii) Current Operations

A.I.M.S. is described in its mission statement as follows:

The Allied Indian and Metis Society, as part of the Native Indian community involved in the criminal justice system, strives to develop, deliver and maintain:

Assistance to incarcerated and conditionally released Native Indian people;

Independent, quality and culturally oriented programming for Native people involved within the justice system;

Meaningful alternatives to continuous incarceration of our Native Indian people; and

Support to individuals, groups and programs in the community which lend positive assistance and growth to our client group. 


Capacity: Maximum capacity is10. Due to decreases in day parole, there were only 6 residents at the time of the site visit. Recently, residents have more often been on statutory release rather than parole.

Statistics: Since the recent decrease in day paroles, the average capacity has been about seven. For fiscal year 1993/94, CSC has provided the following statistics:

1993-94 Bed Days























* for the months of January and February, the guarantees exceeded the actual used bed days, i.e. the guarantees in January were 93 and in February 84.


Referrals are made by parole officers, case managers and by inmates themselves who usually hear about A.I.M.S. by word of mouth inside institutions. The Native Brotherhoods also informs A.I.M.S. staff if any inmates are interested in applying.


A.I.M.S. has the following staff

Executive Director






House Parent (full time: Monday to Friday, 4-12 a.m.)


House Parents (who split midnight shift)


House Parents (part-time for weekend shift)





Applications are received and reviewed by staff, and interviews with inmates are part of the application process. The Native Brotherhoods also inform staff if any inmates are interested in applying. Staff will support inmates in their releasing process if they appear motivated to change; applicants with a "very negative attitude" are not accepted. Violent and sex offenders are not automatically excluded. A screening process has been established with representatives of CSC.


Three programs are provided in-house: Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, weekly Healing Circles and a sweatlodge. A.I.M.S also runs a job development program at a different location in which residents are encouraged to enroll. Lack of employment skills and social skills are common among the clientele of A.I.M.S.. Elders provide spiritual advice and counselling, and staff counsellors provide in-house counselling as well.

A.I.M.S. also has access to about 50 organizations in Vancouver in the community service network. If a resident has a specific need that another agency can meet, A.I.M.S. staff will make appropriate referrals. A.I.M.S. is part of the Urban Representative Body of Aboriginal Nations (URBAN) Society which provides staff contact with other major Aboriginal organizations.

A.I.M.S. staff estimate that 65 – 70% of residents successfully complete parole or statutory release at A.I.M.S. House.

Most Beneficial Programs

The Job Development program is considered by staff to be the most beneficial program, as are programs such as A.A. and others which deal with substance abuse.

Client Needs

When a resident first arrives in A.I.M.S. House, the biggest needs are welfare, and obtaining medical cards and status cards for basic identification purposes. Upgrading programs are also needed as there are waiting lists for the various programs in the Lower Mainland area. The most common referral for upgrading is to the Native Education Centre which provides a number of educational programs, including basic literacy.

There is a need for Aboriginal psychologists to help men identify their issues relating to residential schools, foster homes, and dysfunctional families that contribute to criminal behaviour.

Factors to Success

Family support is often essential to success, as is the continuation of the journey of recovery with help from spiritual and traditional practices. Finding enjoyable work and furthering education are also important factors.


Correctional Services Canada provides a per diem of $50.70 and a bed guarantee of 3. Three beds are set aside for referrals from the provincial correctional system who are most often on temporary absence or probation; the province provides a per diem of roughly half that provided by the federal system.


CSC performs audits every two years based on a checklist which lists standards for community residential facilities.

Client Satisfaction

All three residents interviewed were very satisfied with services at A.I.M.S. House and were impressed by the fact they are treated in a holistic fashion which provides a more humane way of being treated. All also prefer that service be specialized for the Aboriginal population rather than a more mainstream approach. Job development and lifeskills programs were also very appreciated. A resident out on statutory release was relieved that A.I.M.S. House was available because "I would have been stuck on the street without it".

iv) Future Directions

Respondents identified the following issues as important to their development:

v) Issues for Consultation

In the event of a national consultation, respondents indicated that the following issues should be addressed:

b) Stan Daniels Correctional Centre – Native Counselling Services of Alberta. Edmonton, Alberta

i) Introduction

Information for this section was drawn from documentation produced by the Stan Daniels Centre (SDC) and interviews conducted with the following officials in February 1994:

ii) Historical Development

The Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA) took over the operations and management of the Stan Daniels Centre in April 1988. The Stan Daniels Centre (SDC) was the first Aboriginal-run correctional facility in North America; since that time a second facility has been developed and is operated by the Blood Band.

The Native Counselling Services of Alberta has served the native community in Alberta for the last 24 years, and was designed to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal people in trouble with the law. NCSA began in 1970 when it became evident that courtworker services were required province-wide to assist Aboriginal people in dealing with their problems in the court system. Since then programs have grown and include: criminal, family and young offender courtworker services; family support and prevention; family life improvement program; federal liaison program in institutions; Elders program in Institutions; forestry camps; the Stan Daniels Centre; adult and young offender probation supervision; fine option supervision; parole supervision; young offender group homes; Talking Drum Program; Young Offender Liaison Services; and a number of other programs, such as youth justice committees.

NCSA has three main objectives:

The Stan Daniels Centre fulfills NCSA's vision to provide a full array of services in the criminal justice system from prevention to incarceration. The concept was developed in response to the low conditional release rate for Aboriginal offenders and the recurring recidivism of released offenders. The Stan Daniels Centre serves as a correctional centre for inmates as well as a community residential facility for conditionally released offenders.

iii) Current Operations

The Stan Daniels Centre is a minimum security correctional centre which also provides services to provincial and federal offenders released to the Edmonton area.

The mandate of the Centre is:

The Centre itself recognizes its own set of commitments which are drawn from a document entitled: "Stan Daniels Community Correctional Centre Mission Statement":

To The Offender:

Stan Daniels Community Correctional Centre will assist the offender in identifying his own individual needs. The Centre utilizes a holistic approach to assist the offender to look at their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Each resident is provided with the opportunity to develop appropriate behavioral and social skills to successfully re-integrate into society.

To The Community:

Stan Daniels Community Correctional Centre shall make provisions to ensure that the community is safeguarded against any further criminal acts by offenders residing at the Centre. Further, only residents displaying a willingness to change inappropriate behaviours shall remain residents of the Centre.

To The Federal and Provincial Releasing Authorities:

Stan Daniels Community Correctional Centre shall provide a high quality of client support and supervision for all offenders placed at the Centre. The Centre will ensure that all conditions of release, and treatment recommendations will be included in the individual development plan for the offender. Stan Daniels Community Correctional Centre further agrees that only after the offender has achieved developmental goals, and is displaying appropriate social skills, shall he be considered as a suitable candidate for release into the community.

Principles of Operation:

The operation of the Stan Daniels Community Correctional Centre is based on the following principles:

Capacity: 64.


At the time of this site visit (January 1994), there was a total count of 41 in the following categories:


Temporary Absence


Temporary Absence


Inmate Status


Inmate Status


Full Parole



Day Parole



Statutory Release



The success rate is estimated by Centre staff to be approximately 70% for full and day parole and approximately 45 - 50% for statutory release. Staff believe that there are indications that the full parole rate is increasing for the type of inmate at SDC, and of those re-offending, violence is decreasing. Most suspensions are for alcohol or drug relapses.

The average length of stay is 8 months.


Bed utilization has been designated through contracts as follows:

In order to apply for admittance into the SDC, inmates advise their caseworker at the institution of their intent to apply. The Caseworker then completes the paperwork for the Centre and the SDC Selection Committee makes the final decision. Interviews are held with prospective residents whenever possible; often clients are already known to the staff.

The criteria for admission for inmate status are:

For conditional release and statutory release, caseworkers in institutions request a community assessment through the Edmonton Central Parole office. For a provincial temporary absence, a "TA Day Release Package" is completed by the caseworker and sent to the Provincial TA Program Authority for a decision.


SDC has twenty-one and one half positions



Deputy Director of Programs


Deputy Director of Operations


Deputy Director of Operations


Correctional Officers


Living Unit staff




Program Trainers


Office Manager




Half-time Elder



Once all transfer reports, including the community assessment, are received, the Selection Committee, comprised of Managers of the Centre, make a final decision; options are to accept, reject or defer. 


The following program and service goals are also drawn from SDC's Mission Statement:

Program and Service Goals:

The Stan Daniels Community Correctional Centre provides a variety of programs and services to assist Native offenders. These programs are designed to assist the offender in making positive changes within their lifestyles. The goal of these programs is to ensure:

One of the central aspects to the programming at Stan Daniels Centre is the case management philosophy, which recognizes that residents should be provided with the opportunity to determine the management of their own lives and are actively involved in the development of their treatment plans. Similarly, staff persons work as a team, provide support and encouragement to each other, and information regarding residents is shared at regular staff meetings to expand the decision making process.

Programs were designed to reflect a holistic philosophy that addresses all dimensions of an individual's life, including physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects.

The following description of programs is provided in documentation prepared by staff at the Stan Daniels Centre:

Family Life Improvement Program (Os Ki Pi Matsiun)

The Family Life Improvement Program (FLIP) is a seven-week program offered at SDC that focuses on activities that promote and enhance the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical well-being of the participants. Although this program is geared toward the residents of SDC, referrals are also encouraged and accepted from other correctional centres and the community at large. This program provides the residents with an opportunity to learn and interact with people from the community. Residents are encouraged to involve their spouses or significant others in this program.

The FLIP program provides residents with an opportunity to learn, heal, and practice living skills in an effort to prepare them for release back into the community. The program has the following objectives:

Participants are encouraged to identify and express feelings and are provided with the opportunity to participate in a variety of traditional practices and ceremonies such as fasts, sun dances, sweats, sweetgrass and others.

Throughout the seven week program, participants explore topics that include self-identity, relationships, family dynamics, sexuality, family violence, suicide, addictions, and substance abuse.

Art Therapy

Art Therapy arose out of the recognition that men who have been institutionalized become angry and bitter. Many of them have been rejected and abandoned by their family and community. As a result, they often have issues around women and authority figures. The group is facilitated by the Centre Director and a psychologist, who are both female.

The group utilizes a combination of traditional Native healing methods and conventional psychodynamic and psychotherapeutic practices. The aim of the group is to help the person attain a positive and integrated image of himself. Nurturing this positive self-image helps the individual to develop the strength and character needed to accept responsibility for his own actions. This in turn allows the individual the freedom and flexibility to choose his own way. The primary goals of this group are symptom relief, personality change, and improvement of psychosocial functioning.

Work Program

The Centre offers an Inmate Worker Program that provides residents on inmate status with an opportunity to work in the Centre. Positions include kitchen worker, maintenance worker and cleaner.

Residents who have been granted a conditional release and have access to the community are eligible to participate in the job search program. Residents with access to the community also have an opportunity to participate in employment/vocational program such as Learning Employment Enhancement Program (LEEP) and Community Preparation and Integration Program (CPIC). Residents who lack employment and/or educational experience are encouraged to attend these programs in order to prepare them for release into the community.

Cultural and Elder Program

As all of the Centre's programs are culturally based, traditional practices, tribal empowerment and traditional medicine are used in a holistic way at the Centre. As part of the Cultural Program, an Elder remains on site at the Centre three days per week. The Elder provide one-to-one counselling, assists with the FLIP program, and conducts Native ceremonies.

Plato Learning Systems

SDC operates a computerized learning system that allows residents who are on inmate status or unable to secure funding to attend school, to work with volunteer tutors to upgrade their education. The curriculum in the system covers the span from kindergarten to grade 12. Residents are then free to write Department of Education tests for whatever grade level they wish to achieve.


Caseworkers are assigned to each resident and provide support and counselling in working toward goals identified in the case plan. Counselling is also provided through licensed psychologists when funded by CSC. Parolees must have a National Parole Board imposed condition to "attend counselling as directed by a clinician". The Centre currently uses four different psychologists who have expertise in a variety of areas, for instance sexual offenders and child abuse. The resident is referred to the psychologist who will best meet his needs.

Outside Programs

Residents also have access to the following programs offered by other agencies:

Most Beneficial Programs

Respondents indicated that they considered the following to be the most beneficial programs or aspects of SDC or its outreach referral programs: one-to-one counselling with the Elder;Art Therapy; FLIP; Poundmaker Lodge; Lifeskills training in areas such as household budgeting; and the positive role modeling of staff.

Client Needs

Respondents indicated that key client needs were in the areas of: healing and dealing with victimization which often occurs at an early age; getting some sense of personal direction; being acknowledged; being closer to spouse and families; culturally based programs and native spirituality; drug and alcohol treatment; developing an identity; "starting to dream"; acceptance and understanding; respect; dignity; self-discipline; and structure.

Factors to Success

Factors to success were defined as: strong community support, meeting educational needs, employment, wanting to succeed; taking responsibility for self, access to Elders and native spirituality; being treated with respect; and staff taking time when residents have concerns.


The basic contract with CSC provides for 40 beds, for which an annual budget of $900,000.00 is funded. Any bed utilization over 40 is paid by way of a per diem of $12.50.


Federal audits are on a three-year cycle, and the province of Alberta also conducts audits. Both audits are similar to the checklist system.

An internal evaluation was completed in November 1993 which assessed the overall effectiveness of programs and services offered at the Centre.

Client Satisfaction

Residents were asked about their biggest needs on arrival at Stan Daniels Centre. Responses included: readapting to society; anger management; being close to family; Family Life Improvement Program; how to communicate with other people; alcohol relapse program; education and upgrading; native culture and spirituality (mentioned by many); "to work on myself in native environment with native people and get to know the real me – not the intoxicated man I was"; work training skills; "a place to introduce myself to the community again in a non-threatening manner"; stabilization; and maintaining contact with the native culture.

The most beneficial programs were found by clients to be: the native cultural programs; native spirituality; "learning how to be honest"; FLIP; Elders' Program; Poundmakers; anger management; and "working with feelings in Art Therapy".

Most residents first heard about the Stan Daniels Centre from other inmates. As one resident stated: "Everybody at Bowden knows about the Stan Daniels Centre". A few were told by the native liaison officer and the others either heard a presentation by the Executive Director of Stan Daniels or a parole officer.

In answer to the question, "Do you find the staff helpful", responses ranged from "good" to "very, very helpful". Clients indicated that staff are supportive, "try to make us comfortable", provide healthy criticism, are good friends in some cases, show genuine concern, are strict but good, and provide "freedom to express ourselves and live a culturally congruent life". One resident indicated "for the odd person, it's just a job".

Residents indicated that more programs for families and children would be useful as would the following improvements: more drum practices; more arts and crafts; more upgrading and job training; more native food like deer and caribou; more spiritual events and workshops; private family visits; more assistance for those who come from rural areas about living in the city; more day passes for those on inmate status; increased number of native personnel; more Elders; parenting skills; and "a more home-like environment rather than an institutional building where we could learn how to live independently, make meals and shovel the walk."

The majority of residents prefer the Aboriginal approach while one indicated that it did not matter either way, and yet another felt that programs should be mixed with non-Aboriginal people as "that's how the outside world is."

iv) Future Directions

Respondents identified the following issues as important factors to be addressed:

v) Issues for Consultation

In the event of a national consultation, respondents indicated that the following issues should be addressed:

c) Community Training Residence – Gabriel Dumont Institute – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

i) Introduction

Information about the Community Training Residence was gathered during January 1994 from the following officials:

ii) Historical Development

Gabriel Dumont's Community Training Residence (CTR) first opened in 1989 in the former building of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind; the new facility, specifically built for community corrections purposes, has been operational since February 1991.

The planning for and opening of this facility was in response to the need to address the problem of high numbers of Aboriginal people in provincial custody. It was also recognized that the only way to break out of the cycle of criminality and cultural barriers is through education. It therefore seemed appropriate that the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research Inc., the educational branch of the Métis Society, should provide the umbrella organization for the first Aboriginal-run CTR in Saskatchewan. The organization won the tender for the CTR in 1988.

Community Training Residences are unique to Saskatchewan. They provide opportunities for selected offenders, both sentenced inmates and probationers, to participate in community activities which encourage responsible behaviour, both socially and work-related, after release. The philosophy behind CTR's recognizes the system's traditional over-reliance on incarceration and encourages working with local community organizations and sensitivity to the timing for early release through adequate preparation. The CTR experience involves a higher level of involvement by both inmates and staff than do many other provincial programs. Programs and activities include: employment; vocational and academic training; treatment for alcoholism and substance abuse; and specialized counselling.

Five CTR's serve male offenders in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford; they are operated by the provincial government. Gabriel Dumont's residence is the only CTR specifically for women and particularly for Aboriginal women, although non-aboriginal women may also apply.

Gabriel Dumont's CTR has an Advisory Committee which oversees day-to-day activities and meets every two to three months. Gabriel Dumont's own Board meets four times a year.

Until 1992, the focus of the CTR was on developing and implementing in-house programs for the women, and since that time has been on accessing outside resources in conjunction with the house. The organization strives to provide a home atmosphere as much as possible.

iii) Current Operations

Capacity 14


The following statistics are for the 12 month period in fiscal year 1992-93.

Number of residents discharged


Total Days of Care


Number of Applicants Interviewed


Applicants Approved


Applicants Denied


Successful Completions


Provincial Early Releases


Parole Releases


Unsuccessful Completion




The average length of stay is approximately 2 to 3 months, although residents can stay up to 6 months.


About 15% of residents are women released from federal institutions; in 1992/93 there were 5 such clients at CTR. The majority of residents (50%) are on inmate status from the provincial Pinegrove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert. Court referrals and probationers account for roughly 10%, while women serving intermittent sentences account for an additional 25%.

The Correctional system in Saskatchewan categorizes the inmate population according to "A and B" offenders. "A" offenders are those whose sentences are over 365 days while "B" offenders are those who serve sentences under 365 days. "B" class offenders who apply for admission to CTR can be approved by local authorities and the Director of CTR while "A" class offenders require approval by the Director of Community Facilities or his designate.

At the time of these interviews in January 1994, there were 12 women serving federal time at Pinegrove Correctional Centre.


All staff are women of Aboriginal descent. It was reported that women residents are often uncomfortable around men in staff and volunteer capacities due to their histories as victims of abuse. Eighty percent of staff speak an Aboriginal language and all are required to provide counselling when requested.

There are nine staff in the following positions



Program Coordinator


Lifestyles Coordinator




Resident Supervisors




Casual Staff (resident supervisors)


Although university degrees are not required for these positions, many staff hold degrees from the School of Human Justice, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon; the Cook/Instructor has her Food Handling Certificate from the Department of Health.


When an application is received, an interview is scheduled as soon as possible with the Director and the Intake worker at Pinegrove Correctional Centre, who coordinates applications for CTR. Criteria for acceptance include whether the applicant is serious about changing and participating in programs such as Alcoholic Anonymous and Education/Upgrading and the degree of risk.

CTR does take high risk violent offenders, as criteria for acceptance are based on participation in institutional programs, a woman's own story, and staff assessment of a potential resident's ability to control her own behaviour.

Assessments are completed within 7 days of a new arrival and include: history/background; what issues the client feels are important to work on; expectations while in residence; what resources they would like to be referred to, i.e. in- house and external resources such as one-on one counselling, medical needs, if any, educational upgrading, addictions counselling, etc. An individual case plan is then prepared for the length of stay of the resident in consultation with the resident.


CTR provides a number of in-house programs and referrals to outside agencies when an individual woman's needs are not met by the in-house programs. Unless a resident is employed and has a source of income, residents receive welfare and must pay room and board according to their ability to pay. Monies paid for room and board are deposited in a trust fund which in turn is used to pay for psychologists or specialized treatment as required. In-house programs are separated into two categories: core programs which are held frequently; and others which occur from time to time. Residents participate in programming, in-house or specialized outside programming from Monday to Friday.

Core Programs:


Arrangements are made with private psychologists for residents who request psychotherapy as well as other specialized help on a request basis. Residents are also free to attend additional A.A. meetings or Narcotics Anonymous meetings in other locations throughout the city.

Although residents are not assigned a caseworker, they are encouraged to speak openly with a staff member of their choosing. Staff believe that residents should be free to confide in a person of their choosing according to circumstances, e.g. evening staff may be more available in some cases when residents are busy during the day.

Most Beneficial Programs

Staff and residents interviewed were agreed in believing that the most beneficial programs are those focusing on lifeskills, healing circles, and addictions programs.

Client Needs

Other than the obvious basic personal needs of cigarettes and clothes, the two most frequently identified needs are: (i) dealing with the victimization that all residents have experienced to varying degrees; and (ii) family-related needs. For women who have left Pinegrove Correctional Centre and have children, their primary need is to find their children upon release and to assure themselves of their safety, particularly if there has been a history of abuse in the family.

Residents also indicated the following needs: suicide and grief counselling; alcohol/drug abuse programs; "dealing with what I did"; self-improvement; anger management; "improve my bad attitude"; parenting classes; upgrading; learning how to get a job; healing and starting over.

Factors to Success

Respondents indicated that dealing with victimization is an important factor to success, as are sobriety; taking responsibility for oneself and one's offence; developing a support system, changing environment and friends if necessary; and being open and receptive to new ideas.


Proposals and budgets are submitted every year to the provincial Department of Justice, which is the sole funder of CTR. (Costs for federally sentenced women are recovered through the Exchange of Services Agreement between the federal and provincial governments.) This method of agreeing on an overall budget for the facility at the beginning of each year was judged to be more appropriate than per diems, which can affect the entire organization if, for example, there is an increase of absences without leave or other unpredictable occurrences. Funding is roughly $400,00 per annum. As mentioned, residents contribute toward a trust fund which covers expenses for client-specific needs such as psychotherapy.


The province has recently completed an evaluation of CTR which was not provided for the purposes of this report. An evaluation was also completed in 1990.

Client Satisfaction

All residents indicated a high level of satisfaction with staff and their degree of openness and support. They especially appreciated how their individual needs are met, unlike their experiences in institutions. A high level of trust was reported in their relationships with staff: "They make sure you look after yourself health-wise" ... "They take time to sit down and talk" ... "They are really compassionate" ... "When you have problems, they help you solve them".

When asked about whether improvements could be made, the following comments were made by CTR clients:

iv) Future Directions

Respondents provided the following comments on future directions and challenges for CTR:

v) Issues for Consultation

In the event of a national consultation, respondents indicated that the following issues should be addressed: 

d) Regina House – Native Clan Organization. Winnipeg, Manitoba

i) Introduction

Information on Regina House was gathered from the following officials during interviews conducted in December 1993:

ii) Historical Development

In 1970, an Aboriginal inmate group at Stony Mountain Penitentiary advocated establishing a halfway house and approached the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) with their idea. The MMF Education Director was assigned to review their request with the Parole Director and representatives of the Manitoba Aboriginal Brotherhood. As a result, the Native Clan Organization was incorporated in 1972. The Native Clan Organization is a multi-faceted after-care correctional agency providing services, primarily but not exclusively, to Aboriginal offenders. A salaried staff person was assigned to work with the Brotherhood in developing a proposal for a halfway house. In June 1973 Regina House opened with 16 beds at 808 Wolsley St. in Winnipeg, with one Director and 2 House Parents. At approximately the same time, the Native Clan Organization expanded its field staff to one liaison worker in Stony Mountain Institution and another for both Rockwood Institution (federal) and Headingley Correctional Centre (provincial).

In 1975, Regina House moved and expanded from the Wolsely St. location with 16 beds, to 75 Hargrave for a total of 24 beds. Another Counsellor position was added at the same time. A later move in May 1978 to 160 Mayfair, Regina House's present location, increased bed capacity to 34 beds. An additional Counsellor position was added and the House parent system was abandoned in favour of shifts, although live-in staff were kept until 1986. Between 1985 and 1987, Regina House chose voluntarily to comply with health, fire and safety standards under the provincial Office of Residential Care and became a member of the Manitoba Association of Private Correctional Agencies.

iii) Current Operations

Capacity: 34 beds. Due to a decrease in day paroles over the last year, the average number of beds filled is about 23. At the time of these interviews, there were 20 clients in residence.


The following statistics on clients have been provided by the Native Clan Organization

 Fiscal Year

 Number of Persons













A breakdown of bed days by fiscal year is presented as follows

 Fiscal Year

 Bed Days

1988-89 -federal



1989-90 -federal



1990-91 -federal



1991-92 -federal



1992-93 -federal



1993-94 -federal





















In 1991-92, case preparation for parole was assumed by institutional staff rather than community parole officers. Respondents (with the exception of CSC) have indicated that this has led to a decrease in parole, suggesting that institutional staff tend not to be as well connected to community resources as parole officers. Respondents also attributed some of the changes to new legislation: as a result of alterations to day parole eligibility rules, enacted in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, there has been a decrease in day parole, and therefore in referrals to halfway houses.

Referrals: 70% of referrals are from the federal parole system; the remaining 30% are temporary absences from the provincial correctional system.


The Assistant Director of the Native Clan Organization visits Stony Mountain Institution on a regular basis to review applications and to liaise with case managers. As of April 1, 1994 the Native Clan Organization no longer delivers the Native Liaison Program at Stony Mountain Institution. However, in Rockwood Institution there are 1.6 staff positions for this purpose and 3 in Headingley Correctional Centre. In addition, there is a full-time Elder in Stony Mountain and one in Headingley who provide spiritual advice. Additional Native Clan staff provide parole supervision and other after-care services.

In Regina House, there are 7 full-time and part-time staff on rotating shifts and 1 part-time maintenance worker.

The staff positions are as follows

House Manager


Evening Supervisor




Housekeeper (half-time)


Cook (half-time)





Inmates at Stony Mountain were usually made aware of Regina House by Native Clan's Native Liaison Officers; however, with the end of this program, inmates are advised by the Assistant Director or case managers. When inmates prepare their parole release plans, Liaison Officers take applications for Regina House and provide them to staff at the House as well as to the Executive Director of Native Clan. The applications are then reviewed for suitability both in terms of: (i) type of crime; and (ii) likelihood of compatibility with other residents at the House.

Generally, inmates with serious mental health problems and medical problems are not accepted due to the high level of care and specialization required to meet their needs. Inmates with records of excessive violence and arsonists are also usually not admitted. As Native Clan operates a treatment and assessment program for sex offenders, the House will admit some sex offenders, provided that they receive treatment and do not have an excessive pattern of pedophiliac behaviour. Careful screening of sex offenders takes place as the House is located near a school and staff are very conscious of the potential danger involved. Sex offenders with a long history of offenses, which escalate in severity over time, will not be admitted. Finally, any offender who represents a serious security risk will also be turned down.

Residents at Regina House do fall into a wide range of offense types including murder, manslaughter and life sentences.


Residents at Regina House participate in a number of programs available in the city of Winnipeg. No structured programs are provided at Regina House. Part of the rationale for not providing programs in-house is that it provides privacy to residents about the types of programs they are required or choose to attend. For instance, sex offenders may not want other residents to know that they are obtaining specialized treatment for their problems. Similarly, due to the anonymity of Alcoholics Anonymous programs, and the belief that members should not feel coerced to attend, no such programs are offered in the House itself.

Program plans for residents are developed with parole officers and House staff.

Residents have access to the following programs:

Despite the seemingly long list of accessible programs, space in some of these programs is often difficult to obtain for Regina House residents. This is particularly the case for job training and readiness training during the present economic recession.

In addition to the above, the Native Clan Organization instituted The Forensic Behavioral Management Clinic (FBMC) in 1987. This program was commenced in response to the need for sex offender treatment in the Prairie region. The program provides both assessment and treatment services to adult male clients over an 18 month period. The program operates out of Native Clan offices and residents at Regina House are often clients of the program.

There are no assigned caseworkers, as both residents and staff agree that residents should have the freedom to choose whom to speak to when they want. In addition, shift work results in the fact that no one person will always be available. The counselling situation is also hampered by the lack of adequate office space that would ensure privacy for conversations. The need for office space was mentioned by most staff respondents.

Reactions were mixed as to whether Aboriginal specialization is a preferred option. Some respondents believe that a Aboriginal focus makes Aboriginal residents feel more comfortable; others believe that integration and mixing needs is a more accurate reflection of society.

The most beneficial programs available to Regina House residents are: education/training, substance abuse, Aboriginal spirituality for those who are interested in traditional culture and social skills orientation.

Client Needs

The most common needs of clients on arrival at Regina House are for substance abuse programs, education and upgrading, as well as job training and employment. On a more immediate level is the need for a bus pass and some financial support to help residents get on their feet. Day parolees are provided with an allowance of $30.10 a week, which can be used for butdoes not always cover the cost of cigarettes for smokers and the cost of transportation to the various treatment and/or employment programs. Full parolees and statutory release cases may also receive this allowance, if they are deemed to be special cases in need of it. Provincial inmates out on temporary absences, on the other hand, are provided with a bus pass. At times residents arrive with few clothes and no winter coats if they were admitted to prison during the summer months. The difficulty in meeting these most basic needs is often demoralizing when the offender is trying to get established. Welfare is not available for room and board, as these are provided by the Halfway House; however, clients may receive social assistance for other personal needs. All staff members mentioned the need for bus passes as the most common need experienced by clients.

In addition, there are sometimes special needs, such as school supplies, which vary from resident to resident. Residents who have partners and families often need additional assistance in learning to relate to their families again. Staff members are very conscious of these needs and refer residents to programs or help them out as best they can.

Factors to Success

Staff estimate that the successful completion rate of Regina House clients is approximately 70%. The remaining 30% are most frequently unsuccessful due to being absent without leave due to drinking or drug use. One staff member indicated that sincerity was the most important factor to success as it usually indicates that a resident will complete his parole. The support of family is also judged to be invaluable for those clients at Regina House who have families.

Many respondents indicated that the rule obliging staff to report residents if they are 10 minutes late for curfew may not be in the best interests of residents. A 10-minute violation leads to automatic suspension of parole. Residents on provincial status have a 20-minute curfew. One respondent indicated that breaking curfew might lead a parolee to finally admit to substance abuse problems which in turn will lead to treatment. There is no staff discretion allowed for curfew violations.


The present system established with CSC is that Regina House provides a bid after which a contract is negotiated. The present per diem for federal offenders is $45.00; the per diem for provincial offenders is $35.00. Repeated requests have been made with provincial officials to increase the per diem to $45.00. Regina House receives no other funding.


Other than annual service audits with CSC and annual financial audits, no other evaluation has been or is being conducted. An evaluation was completed recently on the Forensic Behavioural Management Clinic.

Client Satisfaction

All residents interviewed were enthusiastic about their stay at Regina House. Their biggest need on arrival at the House, other than having a place to stay, is bus fare, to be able to attend A.A. programs, vocational programs etc. The need for funds to buy clothes was also high on the list. The staff are always helpful in terms of friendship, informal conversation and providing information about various program options available in the city. All residents interviewed enjoy the home-like atmosphere. One stated: "I expected a jail, it's more like a home ... It's way more than I expected." Substance abuse programs, including A.A., are the most frequently used programs, with upgrading programs the second most desired option. However, space in these programs is often limited. The Anger Management program, offered by Native Clan, is also popular.

In terms of what residents would like that is not presently available, the need for job training and jobs was paramount. More assistance should be provided in finding jobs in a city where employment opportunities are scarce.

All residents interviewed prefer not having assigned case workers as they appreciate the freedom to choose whom they would like to confide in and when.

One resident suggested that it would be useful to have a gradual system of rewards, whereby if a parolee is successfully handling his release, 2-day passes could gradually increase in length to 3 or 4 days. In this way, once release is total, parolees would have been more gradually accustomed to a non-structured and de-institutionalized life.

Opinions varied on whether services should be specialized for Aboriginal people or provided in a mainstream fashion. Some stated that they feel more comfortable in a Aboriginal setting; others said it didn't matter so much. Non-Aboriginal residents did not seem to have an opinion; one non-Aboriginal respondent indicated that, with the high Aboriginal population at Stony Mountain, he was used to an Aboriginal environment.

iv) Future Directions

The following non-priorized list represents all ideas provided by respondents for future directions:

v) Issues for Consultation

The following non-priorized list represents all ideas provided by respondents for future directions:

e)Maison Waseskun House, Montréal, Québec

i) Introduction

Information for this section on Waseskun House in Montréal was drawn from interviews conducted in June 1994 with the following officials:

Descriptions of programs were drawn from written information produced by staff primarily from the document entitled: "Closing the Circle: Maison Waseskun House, March 1994".

ii) Historical Development

The origins of Waseskun House stem from findings of a feasibility study conducted by Le Service parajudiciare du Québec on the needs of post-release offenders in the Montréal area. Interviewers sought input from inmates in federal penitentiaries and provincial prisons as well as from Elders, case managers and parole officers. Over 100 respondents were interviewed, including representatives from other halfway houses across Canada. The results provided useful information about the extent of the need, type of required programming, and generally the type of approach that might work for Aboriginal offenders. The need for rehabilitative services with a specific Aboriginal focus was acknowledged due to the less than 10% success rate found when Aboriginal offenders use mainstream services.

The organization was incorporated in 1988 and opened a half- way house in 1990, originally in collaboration with the St. Leonard's Society. Members of the Board of Directors include representatives of the Friendship Centre, the Dean of Arts and Science at Concordia University, and an Elder from Kahnawake First Nation.

Waseskun House has been in its present location since September 1993.

iii) Current Operations

Goal of Overall Program

To facilitate the reintegration of First Nations offenders into the family, the community, the Nation and Canadian society.


The mandate of Waseskun House is "to facilitate the re-socialization of men who are 'in transition' between incarceration and re-entry into society."

Capacity: The maximum capacity of Waseskun House is 16.


Total Male Residents (June 13, 1990 – May 31, 1994)







Total Residents by Nation





















Success of Program (June 13, 1990 to May 31, 1994)

Number of residents presently at Waseskun House


Number returned to prison by Waseskun House


Number released who recommitted an offense


Number released who did not recommit an offense


Overall Success Rate


At the time of this site visit there were 13 residents at Waseskun House: 5 federal; 7 provincial remands or temporary absences; and 1 who had been referred by Cree Health and Social Services.

The average length of stay is between 6 and 9 months. The majority of residents referred by the Correctional Service of Canada are on day parole.


Referrals are made from the following:

° Day Parole;

° Full Parole;

° Statutory Release;

° remand;

° court referred;

° temporary absences;

° probation;

° parole;

° Module du Nord – Social Services;


Waseskun House employs the following personnel

Executive Director


Clinical Coordinator


Administrative Assistant




Program Director


Program Officer


Night Supervisors




Assistant Cook





Waseskun House is an urban community residential centre for Aboriginal men, 18 years of age and over, who are:

The only types of offenders not accepted are arsonists, those who require medical detoxification, and those requiring constant psychiatric care.

Federal inmates who want to apply for residency must complete an application form and notify their parole officer or case management officer. After a referral, Waseskun House has 10 days to accept or reject the application. There is a resident selection committee which also reviews applications. In some cases, a 3-day trial period is arranged for the potential resident to stay at the house, often on a weekend pass. Staff and residents consider whether the applicant is serious about working out his problems, whether he admits to having issues to deal with and whether he is likely to function well in the house. A community assessment is completed which forms the basis of the information sent to the residents' committee. Decisions are based on consensus while the Executive Director reserves the right to make the final decision.

In order to address the issue of ensuring that inmates are aware of Waseskun House and its program, a demonstration project proposal has been developed that would involve Waseskun House providing some native addictions programming at Cowansville Penitentiary to provide inmates with a sense of the types of programming available at the halfway house. It is anticipated that this will assist inmates in their pre-release planning for parole and will ensure that inmates are aware of the options available to them.


Programs at Waseskun House emphasize the holistic approach to healing and the personal development of the individual. In addition to the following programs provided in-house, Waseskun House works closely with other agencies, such as the Friendship Centre, which meet other programming and activity needs.

In-house programs are run on a 13-week cycle with one month off during the year.

Group Programs

First Nations Addictions Awareness Group

As most residents have or have had a substance abuse problem, the aim of this program is to increase participants' knowledge about the impact of substance abuse.

Objectives for this program are;

Community Interactions

Goal: To empower clients to function more effectively as members of a community.

Objectives of the program: 

Topics covered include: increasing communication skills; identifying and expressing feelings; confrontation and negotiation; the medicine wheel; developing and maintaining trust; problem-solving; community project planning.

First Nation Family Systems

Goal: To increase participants' understanding of First Nations family systems, and to empower them to reintegrate into their families.


Topics covered include: systems theory and the family as a system; traditional First Nations family system; historical breakdown of Native family systems; healthy and unhealthy families; communication within the family; traditional values and their relevance to today; major social problems in First Nations communities; the cycle of violence; and the grief cycle.

Life Skills

Goal: To increase self-esteem and feelings of competence through the enhancement of various lifeskills.


Topics covered include: personal budgeting; keeping of personal accounts; saving and comparative shopping; basic nutrition; specialized nutrition, such as for diabetes; meal preparation; cooking techniques; job search: preparing a resumé; preparing for an interview; fears related to job search; career guidance; aptitude tests; and accessing community resources and literacy.

Sexuality and Human Relations

Goal: To facilitate responsible decision-making related to sexual behaviour.


Topics include: sex and sexuality; love and intimacy; STDs; power in sexuality; values and sexuality; male/female communication; safe sex; gender identity and gender roles; birth control methods; A.I.D.S.; chronic and astute prostatitis; sexual relationships; and responsible sex.

Anger Management/Stress Management

Goal: To enhance participants' skill in dealing positively with stress;


Topics include: sources of anger; physical signs of anger arousal; owning one's emotions; anger as a source of stress; consequences of inappropriate reactions to anger; stress reduction techniques; managing stress through social-support systems; anger triggers; assertiveness training; and expressing anger constructively.

The Intensive Camp Retreat

Individuals are encouraged to participate in native healing ceremonies such as sweat lodges, smudging ceremonies and pipe ceremonies. Elders and resource persons provide teachings in traditional values and cultural aspects. This camp retreat is held during the summer months.

Individual Programs

Individual Counselling

Workers have found that a strong correlation exists between incarceration and low self-esteem, drug and alcohol abuse, family violence and persistent unemployment. In order to address these factors, after an initial assessment process an individual treatment program is developed. Individual counselling is based on a structured reality therapy approach.

Goal: To empower the client to make positive personal changes in behaviours and attitudes.


Physical Balance

Goal: To maintain the individual in a state of physical fitness.


Spiritual Balance

Goal: To encourage individuals to develop harmony and balance in all aspects of their lives.


Most Beneficial Programs

Staff consider that the most beneficial aspect to programming at Waseskun House is the individualized treatment plan which encompasses all aspects of a resident's needs in a holistic fashion and includes short-term and long-term goals. This treatment plan often includes: alcohol treatment; personal development; lifeskills; spirituality; educational upgrading; and job readiness preparation.

Information provided in the Native Family systems programs is also invaluable in providing a background for residents to understand the family context of their lives.

Finally, outdoor programs are useful in providing physical activity and a cultural milieu when attending pow-wows.

Client Needs

The major needs are for alcohol/drug treatment programs, anger management, lifeskills training, upgrading programs, being accepted, stabilization after the prison or penitentiary experience, and the need to examine personal issues and grief issues.

It is felt that these needs must be met in an Aboriginal cultural environment that is adapted to the specific needs of residents. Also, as the majority of residents return to their home communities, it is important to have a network of services linking up with home communities.

Factors to Success

The most determining factor to success is that the individual must want to effect personal change. He also needs support structures after release, must develop peace with himself, and find effective programs with a native specialization.


Contracts with the federal government provide for a per diem of $70.00; provincial government contracts provide a per diem of $74.17. There are no federal bed guarantees. Waseskun House does not provide parole supervision services. Residents are paid an allowance of $30.00 a week.


Audits are conducted by members of a federal-provincial group based on a checklist of standards, every three years. Financial audits are more frequent. A shorter evaluation occurs every year with representatives of CSC before the following year's contract is re-negotiated.

Client Satisfaction

Client satisfaction was high and there was consensus that the types of programs available at Waseskun House have made a difference in individual lives. Those programs that emphasized traditional values were especially appreciated as was the program on native family systems. The opportunity to function in the community was found to be valuable in the Community Interaction Program. Those interviewed were informed of the program inside their respective institutions or through a lawyer. Some of the residents interviewed commented that more time with an Elder would be beneficial and increasing the teaching of traditional values would also be appreciated. There is also a need for Inuit translators.

iv) Future Directions

Respondents identified the following issues as important to their development:

v) Issues for Consultation

In the event of a national consultation, respondents indicated that the following issues should be addressed:

f)Micmac Native Friendship Society – Halifax, Nova Scotia

i) Introduction

Information on the halfway house of the Micmac Native Friendship Centre was provided by the following key actors in May 1994:

Executive Director, Micmac Native Friendship Centre;

ii) Historical Development

The Micmac Friendship Centre has been in existence since 1973 and the halfway house for approximately the last 15 years. There are 6 rooms in a building located next to the Friendship Centre for offenders on full parole or statutory release. When those referrals are low other clientele can stay at the halfway house. Originally the halfway house was located in the same building as the Friendship Centre but was relocated to a building adjacent to the Centre some time ago. Currently, there are three students in residence who participate in the Native Learning Centre; there were no parolees in residence at the time of this visit.

The halfway house was developed in response to needs identified when the Friendship Centre was also responsible for the Native Liaison Program in federal institutions. At that time, it was evident that many aboriginal inmates had no place to go on release and needed assistance in preparing parole plans. The Friendship Centre provided a natural fit for a halfway house due to the ongoing programs available at the Centre, such as alcohol/drug counselling and educational upgrading, and the Centre's experience in offender intervention.

The intent in developing the residential program was also to provide supportive services for Aboriginal clients among their own people and in their own language.

The Micmac Native Friendship Centre also operates the Micmac Native Learning Centre, an Academic Training Program and a Child Development Centre. In addition, there is a Cultural and Recreation Officer, an Alcohol and Drug Counsellor, a Justice Worker (who is also the supervisor of the Halfway House) and a job placement training Counsellor.

However, since the demise of the Centre's Liaison Program, it has become difficult for Centre staff to visit institutions to let inmates know of the existence of the halfway house and other Centre programs. This has affected referrals to the Centre.

iii) Current Operations

Capacity: maximum of six

Statistics: no official statistics are kept but there have been 4 federal parolees since August 1993 and two are expected in the month of May 1994. (It is estimated that there are between 40 and 60 Aboriginal inmates in federal institutions in the Atlantic region.)


As all clients are federal parolees, referrals are made either by parole officers or case managers within institutions. The Centre did receive referrals for day parole up to approximately 1987 but then shifted to other types of conditional release due to requirements necessitated by the Community Residential Facility Standards, such as 24-hour a day supervision and security systems.


The halfway house has a total of two staff: one supervisor and one cook. Both staff members receive room and board and live on the premises. The supervisor is also the Justice Worker for the Friendship Centre. Funding for her position was previously available from the Tripartite Committee which has since ceased. The Justice Worker performs as much liaison as she can with the institutions.


The Director and/or Justice Worker interview potential residents to review their application and suitability for the halfway house. When face-to-face interviews are difficult due to distance, the applicant is interviewed by phone. Staff at the Friendship Centre are often aware of who is applying due to the small size of the Aboriginal community in the Atlantic provinces. Only sex offenders are automatically excluded, as specialized counselling services are not available and the Centre is often full of both women and children.

Referrals are also made by parole officers who work with the Friendship Centre in developing parole plans.


Residents have access to all Friendship Centre programs and are most likely to be involved in educational and employment related programs. Most residents are also counselled by the Centre's Alcohol and Drug Counsellor as well as the halfway house supervisor.

Most Beneficial Programs

Staff indicated that the most beneficial program is offered by Coalition Supportive Services, an organization for parolees which provides a structured work environment for full parolees, day parolees and statutory releases. Also, upgrading and substance abuse programs are clearly among the most beneficial.

The Supervisor works closely with the Centre's Alcohol and Drug Worker for counselling and/or referral to appropriate programs.

Client Needs

Clothing and recreation were listed as the two greatest needs of clients as other programs meet educational, employment readiness, alcohol and drug counselling needs. Often the need for items such as a hard hat or tools can prevent a client from obtaining employment. Having a T.V. room would also be appreciated.

Lifeskills are also among the most basic needs of residents, such as learning how to live in a community again and coping with everyday frustrations.

Employment readiness, job training and casual labour work opportunities are also basic needs. Residents attend Alcoholic Anonymous meetings in the Friendship Centre or other A.A. programs in Halifax. The Native Learning Centre provides upgrading but is inapplicable to those below grade six.

Factors to Success

Respondents indicated that having continued support is a factor to success as well as flexibility and the ability to be treated as an individual. Family support and employment are also important factors. It is estimated by staff that 60-65% of parolees successfully complete their parole during their stay.


The half way house is funded by CSC on the basis of a $35.35 per diem. In 1993-94, a budgetary ceiling of $15,960 was established, but because of underutilization, $9310 was actually received in per diems. Residents in turn are provided with an allowance of $35 a week by the Friendship Centre.


As the house does not take day parolees, no official audit occurs other than liaison activities between staff and Correctional Service of Canada.

Client Satisfaction

No clients were in residence at the time of the site visit.

iv) Future Directions

Respondents identified the following issues as important factors to be addressed:

v) Issues for Consultation

In the event of a national consultation, respondents indicated that the following issues should be addressed:

 g) Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto – Toronto, Ontario

i) Introduction

Information for this section on Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto is based on interviews conducted with the following officials in February 1994:

ii) Historical Development

Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto (ALST) was formed in 1989 in response to a study completed by Obonsawin-Irwin Consulting Inc. entitled: "Toronto Native Legal Services – Phase II – Program and Organizational Development". The report found that there was a need expressed for an agency that would be a "one-stop" approach to delivering legal services. More specifically, it was found that the problem of high incarceration rates for native people is compounded by:

As a result of this report, the fledging organization made application to the Ontario Legal Aid Plan and was successful in obtaining funding for the Community Legal Clinic. At about the same time, ALST assumed responsibility for the Native Courtworker Program and Inmate Liaison Program, which were previously operated by the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. In order to address concerns that the organization had to focus on more than helping people through the justice system, funding was obtained in 1990 from the Department of Attorney General to develop the Community Council Program. From offices previously located in the Native Canadian Centre, the agency moved to its present location in March 1992, with a total of eight staff, and with the developmental stage of the Community Council underway. The Aboriginal Justice Counsellor Training Program commenced in 1993-94.

iii) Goals

Mission Statement

To assist the Native community and its members in Metropolitan Toronto to gain control over justice-related issues and factors that affect them.


iv) Staffing

Staffing for Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto is as follows:

Community Legal Clinic:

Legal Services Unit

Community Council Program

Aboriginal Justice Counsellor Training Program

v) Programs

Legal Services Unit

The Legal Services Unit is comprised of i) the Native Courtworker Program, the Inmate Liaison Program; and, ii) the Aboriginal Justice Counsellor Training Program. The unit aims to provide effective and culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal people throughout their experience in court and during incarceration.

Courtworkers assist persons charged with criminal offences by providing information about the court process, providing assistance in obtaining a lawyer and providing support. The program is based on the belief that stronger advocacy skills on behalf of an accused person during the court process will lead to a reduction in the number of Aboriginal people who automatically plead guilty, as well as ensuring that options to incarceration are considered at the time of sentencing. Courtworkers are located in the following courts:

The Department of the Attorney General (cost-shared with Justice Canada) provides funding for the Courtworker Program and meetings are held quarterly with officials to review caseload statistics. Standards for the program are met and recommendations advanced in a 1989 review of the program have led to improvements in service delivery. Unfortunately, due to limited funds, not all courts in Metro Toronto benefit from the presence of a Courtworker. 

Inmate Liaison Workers provide inmates with cultural and spiritual programs, assistance with parole applications, and post-release planning. Their role is to ensure that the problem of potential recidivism is addressed by providing support during the period of incarceration, as well as assisting in pre-release planning through identifying community support services upon release. Inmate Liaison Workers are located at the following institutions:

The Aboriginal Justice CounsellorProgram was developed for individuals who have been out of the work-force for a period of time. The basic objective of this program is to prepare candidates for the para-professional roles of the Native Courtworker and Native Inmate Liaison Officer. Generally, training programs do not exist across Canada for these positions, as most training usually occurs on the job. Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Aboriginal Management Board decided that the time had come to establish a one-year preparatory course for those interested in entering these fields. The program is funded by Employment and Immigration Canada under the Canadian Job Strategy Initiative and Pathways to Success.

All students are of Aboriginal ancestry and are paid $7.50 an hour during their period of study.

The Aboriginal Justice Counsellor Training Program runs for a period of 50 weeks; it began on August 19, 1993 and concluded on March 28, 1994.

There are three instructors involved in the program: an Instructor-Coordinator, an Addictions Counselling Instructor, and a Life Skills Instructor.

The program consists of a six-week orientation period and three semesters.

The orientation period begins by familiarizing students with the underlying causes for the high rate of criminality in the Native community, and a three-week introduction to addictions intervention. It also introduces the areas of language, policy and legal principles which forms a major component of the first semester. Finally it includes visits to a variety of courts in the downtown Toronto area.

The theme of the first semester is Culture, History and Legal Principles. The learning components consist of Native Culture and History, Language, Policy and Law, and Addiction Counselling.

Native Culture and History combines the family histories of the students with an examination of traditional family life in the major Aboriginal cultures of eastern Canada. Special attention is paid to the natural boundaries of each of the traditional First Nations and the way in which the traditional economies and lifestyles are shaped by the peoples' relationship with the land. Traditional methods of conflict resolution are also discussed.

Language, Policy and Law focuses on writing skills, the organization of ideas and reading for meaning; government organization; policy development and policy analysis with a particular emphasis on how organization and process reflect political values and shape law; and understanding basic legal principles and the issues at stake in current cases, as well as ways in which policy and law shape one another.

The theme of the second semester is Native Inmate Liaison work. The learning components comprise classwork, placement, a practicum, and an Indian Policy/Aboriginal Rights component. Indian Policy and Aboriginal Rights examines both federal Indian policy from Confederation to the present, and the leading Aboriginal rights decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada. The purpose of this course is to consolidate the Native Culture and History and Language, Policy and Law courses of the first semester. The component also introduces students to the actual statutes, policies and decisions shaping contemporary First Nations' relations in Canada.

The theme of the third semester is Native Courtworker activity. The learning components include classwork, placement with ALST Courtworkers, and a Perimeter Court practicum. The overall objective of the program is to prepare students to be able to observe the happenings in a court in much the same way that a keen observer watches a football or hockey game. This level of familiarity is an essential requirement for trainees who will be preparing to do court work. It will contribute to a better understanding of the issues concerning Native inmate liaison clients.

It is anticipated that five of the original eight candidates will graduate at the end of the course.

Community Legal Clinic

The Community Legal Clinic also began at the Native Canadian Centre and provides free legal assistance to low income Aboriginal people living in Metropolitan Toronto. The Clinic serves clients in the following areas:

The Clinic is limited to providing service to clients in the geographical area of Metro Toronto.

Staff from the Clinic provide referrals to lawyers on other matters including criminal and family law. Generally, services can be categorized into three areas: (i) summary advice and information; (ii) client representation; and, (iii) referrals.

In addition to these client-specific activities, the Clinic also provides public legal education/outreach, law reform and community organization. For instance, in terms of community organizing, the Community Legal Worker has been involved with tenants' organizations and Native housing projects in assisting them with their legal issues. Similarly, public legal education and information activities include cultural meanings to better transmit information to an Aboriginal audience.

Ongoing discussions among Board and staff focus on ensuring that the legal needs of Aboriginal people are well served by considering future plans for the Clinic, i.e. including wills and estate planning and other areas of law that could be practiced.

The Community Council (Diversion Project)

The Community Council is an adult Aboriginal criminal diversion project and was developed as an alternative for Aboriginal accused. The Community Council, comprised of Elders, traditional teachers and members of the Aboriginal community, meets with the offender and develops a plan to begin the healing process so the offender can be re-integrated into the community.

Project objectives for the Community Council are as follows:

The first request for funding for the Community Council Program was made in 1990 to the Attorney General's Department. In 1991-92 the program received funding for a developmental phase which lasted 11 months. This was the first time an Aboriginal project had been funded off-reserve in Ontario by the province. This period provided time for a consultation period which led to decisions about criteria and intake, as well as an orientation for Community Council members. The program is presently funded as a pilot project for a three year period.

The Native Community Council, comprised of Elders, traditional teachers and members of the Aboriginal community at large, determine sanctions of accused persons appearing before them that are consistent with traditional culture and values. The emphasis is not on blaming the person, but rather on ensuring the person understands the full impact of his or her actions.

The target group includes minor property offenses, petty fraud offenses, victimless offenses such as soliciting, and some serious offenses such as assault.

Potential diversion candidates are selected by two ALST Criminal Courtworkers or, in the perimeter courts, by the Project Coordinator. Referrals are also made to the project by defense counsel, Native agencies or other Aboriginal offenders.

The Crown Attorney Team Leader reviews cases referred for diversion and makes a decision on a case-by-case basis. Once the Crown Attorney consents, the accused is approached by Project staff to determine whether s/he is interested. The accused person must then consult with his or her own lawyer about a number of issues including the potential sanction s/he may receive from the Council. Once there is agreement, the accused person must admit responsibility for the offence and the charges are stayed or withdrawn.

Diverted offenders are seen by ALST staff within one month of their diversion from court. The Project Coordinator prepares background information on the offender and the offence to assist the Council in its discussions. Defense counsel may attend and victims are encouraged to attend if they wish. Options available to the Council include: fines; restitution; community service; treatment suggestions; participation in culturally appropriate programs; or a combination of these options. The emphasis is on healing and on the offender rather than the offense. If the offender fails to appear before the Council, charges can be reinstated and the accused may not be considered again for diversion on a further charge.

Post-Release Offender Project

ALST conducted a Needs Assessment for a Post-Release Offender Project from January 1991 to January 1992. Meetings and discussions were held with over two hundred individuals and included: ex-offenders and volunteers with Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood programs; Elders and traditional teachers; and those working in the service delivery field in the Aboriginal community in Toronto.

For many of the sentenced offenders, their period of incarceration was the first opportunity they had had to explore the positive and healing aspects of their culture. Once released from institutions, many offenders want to continue working on what they have learned in prisons and on their healing processes.

A significant number of inmates involved in these discussions did not feel that they had the option of returning to their home communities. In addition, Parole Boards may be reluctant to grant parole to inmates returning to their home reserves as there are no local parole services available.

Most inmates indicated that they planned to move to an urban area, preferably Toronto and Kingston. Repeat offenders indicated that there are no programs available on their release to re-integrate them into the Aboriginal community in Toronto and to meet basic needs such as housing and emergency welfare.

These concerns were also echoed by Elders and traditional teachings which stress that regaining one's spiritual heritage is a way of reducing recidivism.

Unfortunately, there are no programs in Metro Toronto specifically designed to meet the needs of released Aboriginal offenders.

A number of other conferences and workshops, including the Consultation on Aboriginal Strategies to Combat Systemic Racism in the Criminal Justice System, held on February 9, 1994, have confirmed the need for a Post-Release Offender Project. ALST will be looking at establishing this program in the future.

vi) Statistics

Community Legal Clinic

The activities of the Community Legal Clinic during January 1 – December 31, 1994

Case files opened


Outreach files


Court appearances


Total summary advice


Community education -sessions provided by staff


Community organizing – groups


Law Reform – oral presentations


Networks – interagency meetings


Community Council

The following statistics are for the first three quarterly periods in 1993/94; the last quarter is not yet available.


1st QTR

2nd QTR

3rd QTR

New cases




Year Total




Cases Heard








Non- attended













In Process












vii) Future Directions

Respondents identified the following issues as important factors to be addressed:

viii) Issues for Consultation

In the event of a national consultation, respondents indicated that the following issues should be addressed:


a) Introduction

Background for this section was provided by interviews with all respondents mentioned in the section on Aboriginal Urban Correctional Programs as well as documentation referred to in footnotes in this part of the report.

b) The Role of CSC in Aboriginal Offender Programming

Programming specific to Aboriginal inmates first began with the development of Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood groups in the larger penitentiaries. In 1972 the first sweatlodge ceremony was held at Drumheller Institution as a result of requests by Aboriginal inmates. Subsequent to that event, the first native liaison officer program was instituted as a result of discussions among inmates, penitentiary administration and inmate supporters in the community. The native liaison officer advises and advocates on behalf of Aboriginal inmates with penitentiary administration and staff.

The sweatlodge and Native Liaison Worker program were quickly implemented in institutions in the Prairie region and in other institutions throughout the country.

The practice of sweatlodge ceremonies brought Elders into the institutions and eventually spawned Elder programs or spiritual programs for Aboriginal offenders.

As the problems facing Aboriginal inmates became more recognized, CSC established the national Aboriginal Advisory Committee in 1974. The purpose of this committee was to provide advice on needs of Aboriginal inmates and native programming and continues to provide this function as detailed below.

In March 1987, the Commissioner's Directive on Native Programs was created to provide the framework for native programs in institutions. However, by 1987, Aboriginal inmates comprised about nine percent of the total federal inmate population, prompting the Solicitor General to established a task force to examine the situation of Aboriginal offenders in the institutional setting as well as in the conditional release process.

The Task Force confirmed that Aboriginal offenders are less likely than other federal inmates to be released on parole instead of statutory release; in 1987, the proportion of releases of Aboriginal offenders on full parole was 18.3% compared with 42.1% for non-Aboriginal inmates. The Task Force also found that the lack of halfway houses and community alternatives for day parolees and other parolees in northern and rural locations for Aboriginal offenders was problematic. The Task Force recommended:

36.1. It is recommended that the CSC develop a long term plan to improve post-release services for parolees from northern areas. Such a plan should include the introduction of halfway houses, and requirements for supplementary information, counselling and community reintegration services.

In addition, recommendation 37.1 addressed the issue of alternatives in smaller communities:

37.1. Consideration should be given to the use of alternatives to halfway house facilities, such as the indirect supervision of parolees placed in private homes.

The recommendations of the Task Force were accepted and CSC set the following objectives for implementing those recommendations:

By 1992 the proportion of Aboriginal federal inmates in the total population had increased to 11.4% and in the Prairies to 37%.

In view of the desire to improve programming inside institutions and improve the conditional release rate for them, CSC is committed to:

c) The Corrections and Conditional Release Act

The Corrections and Conditional Release Act was assented to in June 1992. Among the changes enacted were the parole eligibility criteria particularly in relation to day parole.

Prior to this legislation, inmates were eligible for day parole at the one-sixth point of their sentence, or after six months, whichever was longer. Now day parole eligibility is delayed until 6 months before full parole eligibility, which represents a change for persons serving longer sentences. In addition, the Act explicitly attaches paramountcy to "the protection of society" in all release decisions.

These changes, incorporated in the new Act, seem to have affected halfway house populations in that almost all sites visited for the purposes of this report indicated a dramatic decrease in day parolees, affecting overall operations of these facilities.

The Act also provided for more visibility to the parole decision making process by obligating Parole Board Members to provide written reasons for their decisions. It is believed that the National Parole Board has become more conservative about assessing risk for parole as a result of increased public access to parole decision information. Coupled with the changes to parole eligibility, the flow of day and full parolees to halfway houses had decreased at the time of writing this report.

However, the Act also introduced sections which provide CSC with the ability to contract directly with Aboriginal communities. The Act specifies:

81. (1) The Minister, or a person authorized by the Minister, may enter into an agreement with an aboriginal community for the provision of correctional services to aboriginal offenders and for payment by the Minister, or by a person authorized by the Minister, in respect of the provision of those services ...

81. (3) In accordance with any agreement entered into under subsection (1), the Commissioner may transfer an offender to the care and custody of an aboriginal community, with the consent of the offender and of the aboriginal community.

The ability of CSC to contract directly with aboriginal communities is one which, with proper financial resources, is likely to form the basis for the development of future services, given the identified need to work more closely with those communities.

d) The Aboriginal Advisory Committee

The following description of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee, formerly known as the Aboriginal Liaison Committee, is drawn from the Terms of Reference.


Now based in statute (s. 82 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act), the Committee's purpose, as stated in policy, is "to create and maintain a forum to develop and to provide advice to the Commissioner [of Corrections] on the provision of correctional services to Aboriginal offenders; and to consult regularly with Aboriginal communities and other appropriate persons with knowledge of Aboriginal matters."


The committee consists of:

The Committee is always chaired by one of the non-government members.

The Committee is assisted by a "Support Group" whose activities are directed by the Committee. The Support Group consists of regional Aboriginal program coordinators, an Aboriginal member of the National Parole Board, an Aboriginal representative of the Solicitor General Secretariat, the Kikawinaw (warden) of the Healing Lodge, a manager within the National Parole Board, and any other persons whom the Committee Chair and Corporate Advisor may from time to time designate.

Selection and Appointment of Members

Members of the Committee are appointed by the Commissioner upon nomination by Deputy Commissioners and review by existing Committee members.

Meetings are called by the chairperson as required but there must be a minimum of three meetings a year.

Regional Advisory Bodies draw their mandate from Commissioner's Directive #702 and are described as follows:

"The Deputy Commissioner of each Region shall establish a regional advisory body to provide counsel on regional aboriginal offender issues,

The regional aboriginal advisory body shall assist the Region in establishing and coordinating programs for aboriginal offenders and shall promote the understanding of aboriginal cultures among staff."

e) Funding of Community Residential Facilities

Historically, per diems have been used as the major funding mechanism for Community Residential Facilities, and a national study in 1981 determined that per diems would be based on 80% of the cost of operating the facility, with the agencies expected to make up the 20% difference.

In conjunction with the use of per diems, a guaranteed level of funding was offered to a certain number of referrals in exchange for an undertaking that that a certain number of beds would be reserved for federal offenders. This system of guarantees was a benchmark for advancing payments to agencies. Guarantees were based on 75% of the previous year's utilization and could be rationalized on a monthly or quarterly basis.

However, not all Centres opted for guarantees. There were no guarantees in Québec and the Prairie region. The highest occurrence of guarantees was found in Ontario, where between 50% to 75% of the community residential facilities had guarantees in place. In the Atlantic region, 15% – 20% of the halfway houses secured guarantees, as did 25% in the Pacific region.

In 1986 a purchase of service agreement system was implemented where block funding translated into 100% of costs. This was done because CSC did not want agencies to worry about struggling to survive. However, it was later felt that block funding was leading some agencies to become less proactive, for example by not making as many visits to institutions to assure referrals. This later led to more scrutiny of budgets. Block funding took place from 1986 to 1991-92.

Finally, CSC decided to return to per diems, where the cost of block funding was taken and broken down into per diems at approximately 90% of cost.

A great deal of variation exists in the manner in which funding is negotiated as each community residential facility represents a unique program, ranging from simply room and board to full-blown attempts to create a rehabilitative environment. This approach also takes into account regional variations, as it would be difficult to establish the same per diem for the entire the country.

There has been no consensus achieved as to the best funding method and the issue of funding is an ongoing concern for both CSC and the community residential facilities.

 f) Standards

In 1985, a young woman was tragicaly killed by a federal offender on conditional release to a halfway house in Ontario. As a result of various internal and external reviews of the circumstances surrounding Celia Ruygrok's death, including an inquest and subsequent Task Force, standards were developed and implemented as of April 1, 1988 for all privately run community residential facilities or halfway houses. As has been seen from discussions with some of the urban correctional operators described earlier inthis report, some of these standards remain something of an issue to this day, in particular the 10-minute grace period on resident curfews before the suspension process is triggered.


The attention paid to urban Aboriginal justice issues remains limited when compared to the research and investigations undertaken on the administration of justice in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. This remains a serious dilemma despite unprecedented attention by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal governments to justice issues in recent years.

The evidence and recommendations of the Task Force on the Criminal Justice System and Its Impact on the Indian and Métis People of Alberta, the Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, and the research on urban justice and Aboriginal people undertaken by Dr. Carol La Prairie, represent the most current and in-depth information on urban Aboriginal people and justice issues. Despite these efforts, considerable work is required if the justice system is to truly meet the needs of this subgroup of Aboriginal people which is "seen, but not heard".

The research undertaken here is intended to contribute, in a small way, to the information necessary to improve the administration of justice in urban centres. The review of halfway houses in Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Montréal, and Halifax, as well as the unique programs underway in Toronto, has shown the considerable work which is being undertaken to meet the needs of Aboriginal offenders released to large urban communities in Canada. While commonalities exist between each centre with respect to client and funding needs, for example, each halfway house reviewed in this report has identified location-specific problems and directions for future operations.

Overview of Urban Aboriginal Halfway Houses

The table below provides an overview of the capacity, referral source(s), and federal per diems of each halfway house reviewed in this report. As shown in the Table, the Stan Daniels Correctional Centre in Edmonton and Regina House in Winnipeg are the only halfway houses which can accommodate more than twenty (20) residents.

The Correctional Service of Canada is the primary referral source for halfway house clients; however, provincial correctional departments do refer clients to halfway houses in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec. Waseskun House in Montréal appears to have made significant progress in establishing protocols with, and receiving clients from, Aboriginal agencies. As will be discussed below, the need for such networking was a common issue identified by most respondents.

Federal per diem rates are also identified in the Table. The rates paid by CSC to halfway houses range from a low of $35.35 to the Micmac Friendship Centre, to the highest per diem rate of $70.00 to Waseskun House in Montréal. Neither the Stan Daniels Correctional Centre nor the Community Training Residence in Saskatoon operates under a per diem funding arrangement with the Correctional Service of Canada. As will be discussed below, the difficulties with current funding agreements and the resulting instability are important issues for future consultations.

Overview of Urban Aboriginal Half-way Houses

>Centre  Capacity  Referrals Per diem*





Stan Daniels Centre



not per diem formula

Community Training Residence



* Province

not per diem formula

Regina House



* Province


Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto




Waseskun House



* Province

* First Nations

* Cree Health & Social Services

* Institut Phillipe Pinel


Micmac Friendship Centre



* refers to federal per diems

The following Table provides an overview of the types of clients which are not accepted by halfway houses reviewed in this report.

Criteria for Excluding Inmates From Admission

A.I.M.S. House,


* very negative attitude

Stan Daniels Centre,


* outstanding charges

* outstanding deportation order

* ongoing psychiatric care required

* ongoing medical care required

* prior violations of conditional

release programs

* serious institutional charges

C.T.R., Saskatoon

* need constant psychiatric or medical


Regina House,


* mental health problems

* medical problems

* arsonists

* persons with history of excessive


A.L.S.T., Toronto


Waseskun House,


* arsonists

* those requiring medical


* those requiring constant psychiatric


Micmac Friendship Centre, Halifax

* sex offenders

As seen in the above Table, clients requiring ongoing psychiatric or medical attention, and those convicted of arson are most likely to be refused admission into halfway houses. The specialized treatment necessary for the care of clients falling into these categories appears to be simply too much for overburdened staff and agencies struggling under financial strains. While the above Table is intended to demonstrate the types of cases and clients refused admission into halfway houses, the information also points to the significant range of clients who are admitted into the residences. The wide range of cases, needs and demands met by halfway houses reviewed here demonstrates the difficult challenges facing staff delivering services to Aboriginal offenders in urban centres.


The state of service delivery in Toronto is both an example of effective intervention for Aboriginal people in conflict with the law in an urban setting, and, at the same time, an illustration of a large urban centre without an appropriate halfway house for Aboriginal offenders. Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto (ALST) has taken unprecedented steps – and achieved significant success – to improve the treatment of urban Aboriginal people by the justice system. The strides taken by ALST should be considered by Aboriginal, federal, provincial and municipal officials in other jurisdictions. However, the absence of a halfway house in Toronto – a city with among the largest Aboriginal populations in Canada – dedicated to Aboriginal offenders appears as a significant gap in this community's criminal justice and social service network.

Holistic Approach to Intervention

The Table on the next page provides an overview of the common needs of halfway house clients. While the Table demonstrates the significant range of issues faced by halfway house staff, it also identifies similarities with respect to clients admitted to these agencies.

The commonalities among the six urban Aboriginal halfway houses include staff and client respect and desires for holistic services which address the physical, emotional, psychological and social needs and dimensions of clients. It is clear from interviews with staff and residents that holistic treatment is a critical cornerstone to effective rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The failure to adopt such a model was seen by many as a critical contributing factor to the failure of past intervention programs. The difficulties in developing such approaches with compartmentalized government departments was also noted by some respondents.

Client Needs as identified by Staff and Clients

A.I.M.S. House,


* welfare

* medical and status identification

* upgrading

* Aboriginal psychologist

Stan Daniels Centre,


* healing and dealing with victimization

* getting a sense of personal direction

* being closer to spouse/families

* cultural and native spirituality

* drug/alcohol treatment

* developing an identity

* "starting to dream"

* acceptance and understanding

* respect

* dignity

* self-discipline

* structure

C.T.R., Saskatoon

* dealing with victimization

* finding children

* suicide and grief counselling

* alcohol and drug abuse programs

* self-improvement

* anger management

* parenting classes

* upgrading

* learning how to get a job

* starting over

Regina House,


* substance abuse programs

* education and upgrading

* job training/employment

* financial support

* learning how to relate to families

A.L.S.T., Toronto


Waseskun House,


* alcohol/drug treatment

* anger management

* lifeskills

* upgrading

* being accepted

* stabilization

* examining personal issues such as grief

Micmac Friendship Centre, Halifax

* clothing

* recreation

* education

* employment readiness training

* alcohol/drug treatment

* life-skills

Aboriginal Culture and Spirituality

Integrated with this philosophical approach is the paramount importance of native spirituality and teachings underpinning intervention. The availability, presence and guidance of Elders, and the use of both symbols and traditional practices, such as sweetgrass and sweatlodges, within both institutions and halfway houses were viewed as critical ingredients for success by most respondents. While some key actors and residents interviewed for this study supported a "mainstream" intervention approach, the majority identified the need for and importance of programs designed to meet the specific needs and cultures of Aboriginal people. The importance of this principle extended to the administration of halfway houses and other services by and for Aboriginal people. LaPrairie's report, "Seen But Not Heard", also identified the need for native cultural and spirituality to frame the rehabilitation process.


The majority of staff and residents of halfway houses, as well as officials from the Correctional Service of Canada, viewed substance abuse treatment, educational upgrading, and employment training and placement as critical – and demanding – functions now being undertaken and future staples of intervention efforts. Additional issues such as dealing with childhood victimization, establishing stronger linkages with residents' home communities, parenting skills, and stabilization upon release were also viewed as key factors for halfway house residents. Not surprisingly, respondents identified treatment of many of these same issues as critical to successful reintegration into the community.

As demonstrated by the work of the Community Training Residence in Saskatoon, the specific needs of Aboriginal women who are residents of halfway houses are both unique and require specialized intervention. Similar to the findings of various Aboriginal justice inquiries, the need to increase intervention efforts aimed at Aboriginal women was identified as a pressing priority by many respondents.

It is clear from this review that the urban Aboriginal halfway houses are, in some respects, at different points in evolution. Some agencies have developed advanced mission statements, treatment curricula, and referral systems and protocols with different agencies to respond to the needs of the Aboriginal offenders. Other agencies have adopted a less structured approach to meet the needs of their clients. This spectrum of organizational development of halfway houses appears to be influenced by, among other things, historical and financial events and agreements with federal and provincial governments.

Key Issues for Future Consultation

While the evolution of each urban Aboriginal correctional program reviewed in this report may occupy a different position on the continuum of development, common themes can be identified with respect to issues requiring further consultation. Some of these themes rest principally with federal and provincial governments to grapple with, while others lie principally with the private sector, but all require a collective understanding and approach if they are to result in positive growth.

Perhaps the most critical issues to be approached if a national consultation on urban Aboriginal corrections were to be undertaken would be:

Lack of integrated Aboriginal community structure/infrastructure. It will be recalled that various studies and inquiries into the subject have referred to what one report called the lack of an "easily identifiable Aboriginal community structure" in urban areas. LaPrairie's study of inner-city Aboriginal people catalogues their experiences of urban areas, which frequently include criminal justice system involvement (both as victim and as arrestee), difficulties with income and employment, alcohol and drug concerns, not having a political "voice", and concerns of various types about services for Aboriginal people.

In the present study, many urban correctional workers also identified the inadequacy of services designed to meet the particular needs of correctional clients, and the lack of an integrated service delivery network among Aboriginal urban agencies. These agencies, too often rather than working together, are overburdened, in competition with one another for scarce government funding, and hobbled by the narrow government mandates which are attached to their funding. Offenders, unfortunately, tend to be multi-problem, multi-need, and sometimes high-risk individuals who are not good at accessing services, are impatient with delays and complexities, and harbour suspicions of people who want to "help" them. This is hardly an ideal fit.

It seems axiomatic that urban Aboriginal service providers need to work closely and cooperatively together to create the best, most comprehensive response possible to the needs and risks presented by urban correctional clients and others. Against this backdrop, the more specific issues can be addressed.

Staff selection, training and support. This study clearly reflects the truism that good personnel are the key to good corrections, and can make all the difference in terms of initially "reaching" an offender and subsequently guiding him towards the right path. Staff of urban Aboriginal correctional programs often have lots of "life experience" and, by virtue of that, skills in understanding and talking to people with problems relating to addictions, life skills, grief, social isolation, and so on. Other things do not come quite so easily to everyone, and working within the framework of the justice system can be confusing, frustrating, painful, difficult and exhausting. Recognizing the need to address the challenges faced by correctional staff – regardless of where they work or for whom – is one of the constants of the field.

Training, and the funds to pay for it, were mentioned at every site surveyed for this study. Staff training needs vary enormously, but what is universal is that clients present a wide range of needs which must be addressed. The highest standard of correctional worker is needed to do this effectively. Government and the private sector need to discuss how best to achieve that "standard", however, and related questions regarding the balance of mainstream government and other authority in issues of staff selection, screening, training and operation.

Unmet needs of correctional clients. This study has shown that there are considerable numbers of federal and other Aboriginal correctional clients who are either not served at all by the existing urban facilities in their area (the scarcity of halfway houses for female offenders is perhaps the most obvious example), or who have needs which are not being met. In some cases, these unmet needs and unserviced clients are among those which are of greatest concern. They are also among the most difficult (and expensive) to address, because of such questions as economies of scale, available expertise, "ghettoization" of certain clients, and so on.

Offenders whose needs may often go unmet include those with serious physical or mental health requirements, those who present the highest risks, especially of committing a violent offence, and women. The difficulties are compounded in trying to design and implement programs specific to Aboriginal people.

Funding issues. Funding issues for Aboriginal urban correctional programs are on at least two levels. First, there is the question of whether funding levels are globally adequate to provide a high-quality, comprehensive service to those who would benefit from access to it. This question includes both existing and potential future correctional services which would be desirable. It may be time to reexamine the impact of funding freezes on certain types of service. Clearly, both federal and provincial governments would need to form part of this discussion.

The second question is the nature of the funding arrangements for payment for service. This study has seen that different arrangements are in place for different types of service. Some of these arrangements, such as per diems, seem to present perennial problems for both funders and service providers.

The funding question is tied to the matter of decreases in referrals and populations, especially day parolees, in the care of private aftercare providers. The required review of the impact of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act would be expected to provide useful background analysis of impacts and expected trends in this area.

Information and research needs. It is clear that very little systematic information is available about Aboriginal urban people in general, or the needs and experiences of Aboriginal offenders in urban areas. This gap is matched by the paucity of sound, thoroughgoing evaluation (as opposed to audit and review) of urban correctional programs. Sound correctional practice must be accompanied by sound monitoring, research and evaluation if progress is to be made, and if the experience of successful practitioners is to be shared in ways which are most useful.

Appendix A: Interview Schedules

Interview Schedules – Director and Staff

Historical Development

1. Since when has (name of house) been in operation?

2. What particular needs was (name of house) responding to by establishing its residential program?

3. What have been the major milestones or events since its inception?

Program Elements and Activities

4. Where are referrals made?

(% of federal vs provincial – ask for stats)

5. How many staff work in the house and in what capacities?

6. What programs or services are provided in-house?

7. Generally, what are clients' biggest needs?

8. What are the most beneficial programs for them?

9. What kind of outreach does org do?

10. Which community services does it access most?

11. Which kind of outreach or community org works best?

12. Does org take high risk, high need clients?

13. What needs have not been addressed?

14. What degree of cooperation is there between org and other native org's and government agencies. If good cooperation why? What is nature of relationship?

15. What input does org have into release/ community planning?

16. How good/bad is the fit between government agency expectations, objectives and what the organization feels is most important?

17. What training and experience do staff have?

18. Are clients actively encouraged or required to participate in programs in one-on-one counselling? If so, how often?

19. Do clients have an assigned caseworker, or are all staff responsible for all clients?

20. What is organization's and clients' perception of native specialization vs mainstream services and programs?

21. What is clients' program completion rate and why?

22. What are key factors to success?

23. For all native people in the area who get into trouble with the law, who is not being served at all? Of those being served both at all or somewhat, which needs are not being adequately met?

24. What besides more money would it take for you to do a better job of meeting needs of your current clientele (e.g. training of staff, more time for one-on-one counselling, changes to philosophy of treatment.

25. What would it take for you to begin accepting a different (riskier, needier, etc.) type of client (assuming funds available)

26. What could enhance the "fit' between you and the government correctional agencies you serve? (e.g. more input into release plan, timing changes, criteria etc.)

27. Issues for Consultation – If staff, government representatives and others from halfway houses were to get together to discuss common concerns, what types of issues should be on the agenda?

28. Future Directions – If you had a crystal ball, what do you think you would see happening in the next 5 to 10 years that would have an impact on your work?

Interview Schedule – Clients




Where Time Served:

Length of Sentence:

1. Where are you from?

2. What were or are your biggest needs on arrival at (name of house)?

3. What do you find to be the most beneficial programs?

4. How did you first hear about (name of house)?

5. Are the staff helpful? If so, please explain.

(would you like to have an assigned caseworker?)

6. What is a typical day for you like?

7. Is there a program or service that you would like that is not presently available to you?

8. Do you prefer to be in a native house or does it matter to you?

9. What would you like to see improved?

Interview Schedule – CSC


1. Since what year has CSC been providing funding to (name of house)?

2. What particular needs was (nameof house) responding to by establishing its residential program?

3. What have been the major milestones or events since its inception?

Program Elements and Activities

4. What are clients' biggest needs (generally)?

5. What are the most beneficial programs for them?

6. What programs are presently available at (name of house)?

7. What kind of outreach does org do?

8. Which community services does it access most?

9. What kind of community development does org do?

10. Which kind of outreach or community org works best?

Number, Nature of Clients and Limitations

11. What type of client does (nameof house) normally take?

(- day parole, full parole, stat release – type of offender)

12. How many referrals (roughly) come from CSC in a year?

13. Have there been any significant decreases in the past five years? If yes, why?

14. Does (house) take high risk, high need clients?

15. Where do other high risk, high need clients go?

16. Is there any overlap or competition between the CCC and (house) – if applicable?

17. What needs are not presently being met?

18. What degree of cooperation is there between org and other native org's and government agencies. If good cooperation why? What is nature of relationship?

19. What input does org have into release/ community planning?

20. How good/bad is the fit between government agency expectations, objectives and what the organization feels is most important?

21. What training and experience do staff have?

22. Are clients actively encouraged or required to participate in programs in one-on-one counselling? If so, how often?

23. Do clients have an assigned caseworker, or are all staff responsible for all clients?

24. What is your perception of native specialization vs mainstream services in delivering or desiging services?

25. What is clients' program completion rate and why?

26. What are key factors to success?

Funding and Evaluation

27. How is funding presently provided?

28. What are the pro's and con's to block funding, per diems and guarantees?

29. What would be the ideal funding method?

30. How are CSC standards used and applied? (copies of audits)

31. What are the pros and cons to these methods?

32. For all native people in the area who get into trouble with the law, who is not being served at all? Of those being served both at all or somewhat, which needs are not being adequately met?

33. What could enhance the "fit' between you and (name of house)? (e.g. more input into release plan, criteria etc.)

34. What issues could benefit from consultation with half-way houses?

35. What do you perceive to be future directions for halway houses?

Appendix B: Key Actors Interviewed

Regina House – Native Clan Organization, Winnipeg, Manitoba

* Curtis Fontaine, Executive Director of Native Clan Organization;

* 5 interviews with staff at Regina House including two co-managers;

* 6 interviews with residents; and,

* Jim Hume, Coordinator of Community Resources, CSC. 

Community Training Residence – Gabriel Dumont Institute, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

* Faye Ahdemar, Executive Director of CTR;

* 3 staff members, CTR;

* 10 interviews with residents;

* Glen Beady, Area Director of CSC Parole;

* Jim Schneider, Director of Community Corrections, Saskatchewan Justice 

Micmac Native Friendship Society. Halifax, Nova Scotia

* Gordon King, Executive Director of the Micmac Native Friendship Centre;

* Gloria Christmas, Supervisor, Half-Way House;

* Wayne Struthers, Correctional Services Canada;

* David Moore, Correctional Services Canada. 

Allied Indian and Metis Society. Vancouver, British Columbia

* Marge White, Executive Director;

* Charlotte Green, Healer/Counsellor

* Carole Dawson, Alcohol/Drug and Sexual Abuse Counsellor

* Delores Jim, House Parent;

* 3 residents;

* Jeff Christian, Area Manager, Correctional Service Canada;

* Teale Maedel, Parole Officer, Correctional Service Canada;

* Grant Thomas, Parole Officer, Correctional Service Canada.

Maison Waseskun House. Montréal, Quebec

* Stan Cudek, Executive Director;

* Nicki Garwood, Clinical Coordinator;

* Lylee Williams, Program Coordinator;

* Robie Nicholls, Program Officer;

* 4 residents;

* Luciano Bentenuto, Parole Officer,Correctional Services Canada.

Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto. Toronto, Ontario

* Cliff Summers, Executive Director; ALST

* Michael Poslums, Instructor Coordinator, Aboriginal Justice Counsellor Training Program, ALST;

* Jonathan Rudin, Community Council Director, ALST;

* Noelle Spotton, Director of Legal Clinic, ALST

Stan Daniels Correctional Centre – Native Counselling Services of Alberta. Edmonton, Alberta

* Carola Cunningham – Executive Director;

* Randy Sloan – Deputy Director of Programs;

* Theresa Forsyth – Caseworker;

* Maxine Elter – Caseworker;

* Paul Berg – Deputy Director of Operations;

* 10 residents;

* Chester Cunningham – Executive Director, Native Counselling Services of Alberta;

* Herb Wytinck – Area Manager, Correctional Services Canada;

* Beverly Thompson-Marshall – Director, Community Preparation and Integration Program.

Solicitor General Canada. Ottawa, Ont.

* Millard Beane, Special Advisor, Native Offender Programs, Correctional Service Canada;

* Jim Murphy, Case Management and Community Corrections, Correctional Service Canada;

* Ed Buller, Chief, Aboriginal Corrections, Corrections Branch.

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