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James Smith inquest boosts Indigenous prison programs. Grassroots groups say their work is more effective – CBC

Feb 12, 2024

Communities say Indigenous-led, grassroots programs more effective than federal ones

The cerulean and indigo fabric on the twin bed provides the only pop of colour in a mostly grey and white room. Tacked on top is a letter with the words “made especially for you.”

Each woman who stays at īkwēskīcik iskwēwak, a transitional home in Saskatoon for women leaving jail, gets a quilt like this.

“It just gives them a sense that ‘somebody cares for me,'” said Crystal LaPlante, who oversees justice programs for the Saskatoon Tribal Council. “For the ones that have been abused, the ones told they’re nothing — this says, ‘You are loved.'”

Grassroots resources for Indigenous offenders, like īkwēskīcik iskwēwak, are where real change happens, according to those with lived experience and their advocates.

While many recommendations from a recent inquest into Canada’s worst mass stabbing focus on support for offenders while they’re in prison, others say it’s time to pour more resources into community-based programs.

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