APTN News: The opposition critic for First Nations and Métis Relations in Saskatchewan says the province has to do a better job at helping Indigenous women leaving jail.
“There needs to be support for healing because many of our Indigenous women, many people have trauma in their lives,” says Betty Nippi-Albright, the MLA for Saskatoon Centre. “They need support while they’re in the system.”
According to Statistics Canada in 2020/2021, Saskatchewan had the highest rate of Indigenous offenders across the five provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia) that send data to it. That data shows the rates of incarceration for Indigenous women were 15.4 times higher than non-Indigenous offenders.
Nippi-Albright says when it comes to women in custody, they often have children as well as complex trauma. She’s calling for programming that addresses these issues and provides an opportunity for familial healing.
She says while government programs do exist, there are no reviews taking place on how to adapt to the complex needs of these women. “We don’t evaluate. So the current programs, I would be wondering how successful are they. How effective are they? Are they working with community organizations to start a bridging program?”
Nippi-Albright says when it comes time for these women to be released, many don’t have employment ready.
When it comes to these women being ready for release, many have no employment once they leave. She says there needs to be collaboration between those who work in jails and the communities.
She hopes that these groups can come together to offer women meaningful employment, stable housing and mental health support to provide women the best chances of succeeding once they are released.