Critics say Indigenous healing lodges in Canada are suffering from chronic underfunding

Indigenous healing lodges face chronic underfunding across Canada, critics say

“**Reimagining Rehabilitation for Indigenous Offenders: The Healing Power of Waseskun**

In the heart of Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, Quebec, lies the Waseskun Healing Centre – a sanctuary for Indigenous men navigating the complex intersection of trauma, crime, and healing. Here, residents partake in daily healing circles, guided by elders like Grégoire Canapé, where stories are shared, wounds are acknowledged, and growth is nurtured.

**A Seed of Redemption: The Purpose of Healing Lodges**

Waseskun stands as a beacon of hope in a justice system plagued by the over-incarceration of Indigenous offenders. Contrary to traditional prisons, Waseskun aims not to punish, but to heal. By providing a space for residents to confront their past traumas and embrace their cultural identities, Waseskun offers a unique approach to rehabilitation.

**Challenges and Opportunities: The Road Ahead**

Despite the success stories emerging from healing lodges like Waseskun, there remains a glaring disparity in funding and resources. As Ivan Zinger, Canada’s prison ombudsman, highlights, Indigenous-managed lodges are chronically underfunded, hindering their potential to address the root causes of Indigenous incarceration rates.

As the numbers continue to rise, with Indigenous women now accounting for half of the female population in federal prisons, the urgency for alternative rehabilitation models becomes increasingly clear. The principles of reconciliation, self-government, and self-determination call for a more equitable distribution of resources and a greater emphasis on culturally informed support.

**Conclusion: Embracing a New Approach to Justice**

In the face of escalating incarceration rates and systemic injustices, the healing journey at Waseskun serves as a testament to the transformative power of community-driven rehabilitation. By shifting the focus from punishment to healing, Indigenous healing lodges offer a glimmer of hope in the fight for justice and reconciliation.

As we reflect on the words of Elder Grégoire Canapé – “If we find the seed and plant it, if we take the rot and turn it into fertilizer — nurture the sapling — we get a tree” – let us consider the role we can play in nurturing the seeds of redemption and healing within our justice system.”

Ally Lemieux Fanset, Jack Wilson, and Faith Greco, The Canadian Press”



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