‘There’s nothing left there’: A founder of Canada’s first healing lodge says CSC dismantled vision – National

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One of the visionaries behind the very first healing lodge in Canada says Correctional Service Canada completely dismantled what the lodge once was, and Sharon McIvor is now concerned about safety inside.

In 1989, McIvor, then with the Native Women’s Association of Canada, was asked to be an Indigenous voice on the task force that redesigned women’s prisons in Canada. The group published the report “Creating Choices,” which led to five new prisons for women across the country, including Okimaw Ohci, the first healing lodge, which opened in Saskatchewan in 1995.

McIvor remembers one of the first meetings at the now-shuttered Prison for Women in Kingston, Ont., the only facility for federally-incarcerated women in the country at the time.


READ MORE:
Exclusive: White and non-Indigenous offenders made up 11 per cent of those in healing lodges last year

Inmates were holding a powwow, and McIvor watched their self-led drumming, dancing and what’s known as a grand entry.

“They start coming in and I started to cry. I realized that these women knew what they needed to try to get themselves out of what they were, but they didn’t know how to do it,” McIvor remembers.

She began working on advocacy and programming and bringing in elders for Indigenous prisoners.

McIvor worked with a small group called a planning circle to launch the country’s first healing lodge in Saskatchewan. It was important it be set up in the prairies, she said, where the majority of offenders were coming from.

WATCH: What a healing lodge is and why child murderer McClintic served time there






Once the location was selected, they moved their meetings to Maple Creek, Sask., the nearest community to Okimaw Ohci, and launched the circle that included elders, members of Correctional Service Canada, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, people from the Nekaneet reserve and non-Indigenous people from Maple Creek.

The first priority at the new lodge, she says, was safety.

“The biggest thing that I saw was that they’re never ever safe,” McIvor said. “Because of the prison or penitentiary culture, you always had to watch your back. And you have a culture in there where you’ve got someone in charge … how you become the big dog is that you abuse everybody else, so you always have to watch your back.”

By being in charge, McIvor said, she doesn’t just mean a hierarchy among staff, but among inmates.

“That was the first principal in our healing lodge, is that what we needed was a place where they could be safe because until you’re safe and you’re not always surviving, you cannot change.”


READ MORE:
‘I don’t understand’: Indigenous advocates question why non-Indigenous offenders in healing lodges

After that, it was about getting in touch with the Indigenous worldview.

“It’s not so much about culture, because culture, you think, ‘Okay, culture is, let’s go have a sweat lodge, or let’s go to the powwow.’ Our worldview is so much bigger than that,” McIvor said.

“So what [we] needed and what we wanted to do was to first expose them to it and secondly encourage them to understand it, and understand how incredibly important they were, and if something happened to them or if they’re not doing what they’re here to do, then everyone is missing out.”

She says the system worked in the early days, with low recidivism rates, but the lodge in its current form is unrecognizable.

McIvor left Okimaw Ohci in 2005, unhappy with major changes made by Correctional Service Canada which took over operations at the lodge. But she still speaks with elders and others currently at the site.

“They discontinued what we put in place, so it’s just a regular penitentiary right now. It’s not a healing lodge.”

Some of McIvor’s biggest concerns were over the addition of male staff and male elders — especially when the vast majority of Indigenous female offenders have a history of sexual assault and trauma.

“I left when we could not prevent a corrections officer who applied…to work at the healing lodge and used his union seniority to become a staff member,” she said.

“I couldn’t stop them. I had no influence anymore. As you know, I do a whole lot of activist work.”

McIvor, a member of the Lower Nicola Indian band and a lawyer, has a long history of activism and advocacy. In a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, she fought the government over discrimination in the Indian Act.

Her work for Indigenous women was recognized with a Governor General’s award. For the last two decades, she has taught and designed courses at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, the only public Indigenous post-secondary institution in British Columbia.


READ MORE:
21 child murderers have been sent to Indigenous healing lodges since 2011: data

But as the CSC changed the system in 2005, she remembers her fight against the organization as “futile.”

“They get their weapons training [now],” she said. “We refused to give them weapons training because there was going to be no weapons involved.”

In the early days, the term “guard” was never used, either. Instead, the Cree words for aunty, older sister or mother stood in its place. She also laments the loss of a daycare, a space which is now, she understands, used for offices.

And while there is still no traditional barbed wire fence or cells at healing lodges, she remembers the system of coloured cloths tied in trees to mark the perimeter in the isolated setting in the woods. She remembers one inmate who would walk to the edge and stick her foot out and bring it back repeatedly, but says there were no escape attempts.

One concern that has been echoed by others in the Indigenous community — including the nearby Nekaneet First Nation — is that CSC, not a panel of elders as it had been, now controls who enters the facility.

“Taking the elders out of the equation just really, really undermines everything,” said McIvor.

WATCH: Indigenous advocates question why non-Indigenous offenders are serving in healing lodges






Global News reached out to Correctional Service Canada for a response to McIvor’s concerns that healing lodges are much different places now.

CSC spokesperson Julia Scott responded with a paragraph about how healing lodges operate today, but no direct response to any of McIvor’s concerns was offered, except to say elders “provide input” on transfers.

Documents obtained by Global News show that on average since 2011, 15 per cent of inmates at healing lodges were not Indigenous.

McIvor said whether to admit non-Indigenous women to their small healing lodge with 30 beds was a hot topic of discussion during the planning stages.

“At the end of the day we did not preclude non-First Nations women,” she said. “It’s against our worldview. Our elders said, ‘You can’t do that, we don’t do that.’”


READ MORE:
Inmate escapes from healing lodge near Maple Creek, Sask.

But between 1995 and 2005, when she left, she says she remembers maybe one non-Indigenous woman inside.

“It just brings a new, another dynamic in,” McIvor said, saying she has concerns about the 15 per cent.

She says the facility in its current form, with all the CSC changes, is not safe — which was a huge part of the initial impetus for the separate facility.

“We didn’t have the same kind of structure as the other institutions, and so a lot of people would see it as a way of just doing soft time, right? And they don’t come in to take care of some of the issues that they are carrying, they come in to do some soft time. And when that happens, then that [old] culture comes back in, and I know the culture is back.

“In order to be safe, you need to know that you’re not going to get assaulted, you’re not going to be pressured to do things, basically you don’t have to take care of yourself as long. As long as you’re in survival mode, you’re not going to do anything,” McIvor said.

WATCH: Government policy should address access to healing lodges for convicts of serious crimes: Scheer






While they’ve existed for decades, many Canadians only learned about healing lodges since the outrage over child killer Terri-Lynne McClintic’s placement at Okimaw Ohci. She has since been transferred to a traditional prison, and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has promised changes to how female inmate transfer decisions are made.

McIvor, though, says she hasn’t thought a lot about McClintic’s case, because she doesn’t know enough about her particular situation.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea, but if you’ve got a place just where you’re housing people and giving them a few cultural lessons and you’ve got your guards back occupying a sacred space we put together for our babies, and you’ve got them acting like guards as opposed to people that are responsible and are really interested in the women…. Who am I to say that this woman shouldn’t go there?”

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Inmate escapes from Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge near Maple Creek, Sask.

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Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) says Joely Lambourn has escaped the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge near Maple Creek, Sask.

CSC first posted about the escape on its Facebook page at around 3 p.m. CST and confirmed the escape shortly thereafter to CBC News.

Staff at the lodge discovered Lambourn was unaccounted for during a count at 12:25 p.m., according to a news release.

 RCMP were notified and a warrant is now out for her arrest. 

Lambourn is described as 45 years old, 5’2″ and around 130 lbs. She is fair with brown eyes and brown hair. She is currently serving a sentence of two years, six months and 17 days for dangerous driving causing death and being unlawfully at large. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

The lodge was in the news recently when controversy erupted after convicted child-killer Terri-Lynne McClintic was transferred to the facility. McClintic was recently transferred to a women’s prison in Edmonton.

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Child killer Terri-Lynne McClintic transferred from healing lodge to Edmonton prison

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Child killer Terri-Lynne McClintic has been transferred from an Indigenous healing lodge to an Edmonton prison for women.​

McClintic, who is serving a life sentence for the brutal rape and murder of Tori Stafford, 8, of Woodstock, Ont., was transferred from the Grand Valley Institution for Women near Kitchener, Ont., to the Okima Ohci Healing Lodge for Aboriginal Women on Nekaneet First Nation in southern Saskatchewan.

McClintic’s transfer back to a conventional prison was confirmed to CBC News by Tori’s father, Rodney Stafford.

He posted a message on Facebook praising the development.

The transfer to the lodge sparked public outrage, protests and divisive political debate.

McClintic is not eligible for parole until 2031.

On Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale ordered Correctional Service Canada to improve policies related to transfers of « medium-security women offenders to facilities that do not have a directly controlled perimeter. »

More to come

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Controversial McClintic healing lodge transfer could be immediately reassessed under new rules

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The controversial decision to transfer convicted child-killer Terri-Lynne McClintic from prison to a healing lodge could be up for immediate reassessment.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Wednesday announced new rules for how Correctional Service Canada approves and assesses inmate transfers to healing lodges in light of a report delivered to him by the departmental commissioner that was ordered after news of McClintic’s transfer from prison to a healing lodge kicked of weeks of political outcry.

EXCLUSIVE: McClintic’s brother says ‘she’s no more Indigenous than I am green from the planet Mars’

From now on, officials deciding whether to approve the transfer of any medium-security offender to a healing lodge will have to consider:

  • The length of an offender’s sentence.
  • The time remaining before an offender is eligible for an unescorted temporary absence.
  • A requirement that long-term offenders be at least into the “preparation for release” phase of their correctional plan.
  • For those serving long sentences, institutional behaviour.

As well, any such transfers will need to be authorized by Correctional Services Canada’s deputy commissioner for women.

WATCH BELOW: ‘Send her back’: Rodney Stafford leads protest against McClintic transfer on Parliament Hill






Goodale would not say whether the changes, which go into effect immediately, have already sparked a review of McClintic’s transfer.

A spokesperson stressed the placements of all inmates in the corrections system will have to comply with those factors and said the changes give the tools to officials to reassess any offender placement in the system.

WATCH BELOW:  In exclusive interview, McClintic’s brother criticizes her transfer to healing lodge






Goodale also said he can not comment on specific cases but stressed repeatedly that when an offender is transferred, the family of the victim is informed.

Rodney Stafford, the father of McClintic’s victim Tori Stafford, told Global News he has not been informed of any change to her transfer.

McClintic is serving a life sentence without eligibility for parole for 25 years for the first-degree murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford in 2009.

But because she was sentenced prior to the elimination of the faint hope clause, she can actually make her first bid for early release in as soon as six years.

She was transferred earlier this year from Ontario’s Grand Valley Institution to the Okimaw Ohci healing lodge in Saskatchewan.

Under federal rules, inmates seeking a transfer to a healing lodge can self-identify as Indigenous.

McClintic’s brother, however, told Global News she is “no more Indigenous than I am green from the planet Mars” and said whoever approved her transfer should be fired. He also said McClintic is an expert manipulator who only wanted to go to a healing lodge to make her own life easier while serving her sentence.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Send her back!’: Woodstock protesters angry killer Terri-Lynne McClintic now at healing lodge

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About 200 people protested outside a courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., on Saturday against the transfer of convicted killer Terri-Lynne McClintic from a federal prison in Ontario to an Indigenous healing lodge in Saskatchewan.

« Send her back! » the protesters chanted at the rally.

McClintic, 28, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Tori Stafford, 8, in 2010 and was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years. Stafford, a Woodstock school girl, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered in 2009. 

Many of the protesters in her hometown wore purple, which was Stafford’s favourite colour. 

Rodney Stafford, Tori’s father, told the protesters that McClintic doesn’t deserve to serve out her sentence in a healing lodge.

‘It’s not right,’ father says

« A convicted killer was moved somewhere she doesn’t belong and I want do everything I can to put her back because it’s not right. Why should these criminals be able to live a better life than myself, the one going through this issue? »

« Terri-Lynne’s got to go back to max security where she belongs, » he said. « My little girl Victoria deserves so much better and she deserves justice. »

Stafford said, when Tori was born on July 15, 2000, he was sitting in a chair, holding her, and he told her that he would protect her until the day he died.

« You can’t understand the pain and the hurt that goes through you when you realize that one of your bear cubs has been taken, one of your children is gone. It’s tough to deal with every day, » he said.

« On the inside, it’s killing me. But each time I walk past one of you guys, and you guys give me support, that gives me that much more strength to stand here and do what I want to do, and that’s stand up for my daughter, » he told the protesters.

Tori Stafford, 8, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, murdered and left in a farmer’s field in 2009.

Stafford said he was only one voice against the transfer, but support has grown since he first found out.

« A month and half later, I have a nation of support. It just goes to prove that one person can actually make a difference. »

McClintic moved earlier this year

McClintic was serving time at the Grand Valley Institution for Women, a maximum security prison in Kitchener, Ont. After four years, she was moved into the prison’s medium security area.

Earlier this year, Correctional Service Canada moved her to a healing lodge on the Nekaneet First Nation near Maple Creek, Sask., according to Stafford’s grandmother, Doreen Graichen.

McClintic and her boyfriend, Michael Rafferty, grabbed Stafford from a Woodstock street. The girl’s body was found three months later in a wooded area near Mount Forest.

Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for kidnapping, sexual assault causing bodily harm and first-degree murder in Tori’s death.

Terri-Lynne McClintic received a life sentence after she pleaded guilty to first-degree murder of Tori Stafford in 2010. (Canadian Press)

The protesters said they want the federal government to pass legislation, which they call « Tori’s law, » that would ensure any person convicted of the murder of a child would spend his or her entire sentence in a maximum security prison.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said on Thursday that a review into the decision to move McClintic​ from the federal prison to the healing lodge will be coming shortly.

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Escapade : Le Country Lodge

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Le lieu est propice au lâcher-prise pour les parents, non seulement pour détourner leur attention de leurs écrans, mais aussi pour lâcher la bride de leurs enfants, libres ici d’évoluer en toute sécurité grâce à un cadre exceptionnel niché au beau milieu des arbres. Dans une clairière à flanc de colline, sans route à proximité – les voitures sont invitées à rester au parking à l’entrée. Libre alors aux petits citadins en quête d’espace et de grand air d’arpenter les allées du potager en maraîchage bio, ou d’expérimenter la ferme pédagogique en liberté, pour approcher et nourrir chevaux, chèvres, lapins, moutons, poneys et poules, à moins qu’ils ne se retrouvent nez à nez avec un dindon en goguette égaré sur la terrasse de leur lodge. Le domaine en comprend treize (d’une taille de 27 m2, ils peuvent accueillir quatre à six personnes et disposent d’une terrasse de 12 m2), auxquels s’ajoutent neuf cabanes (plus vastes, de 47 à 57 m2, avec une capacité d’accueil de quatre à six personnes plus deux bébés ou enfants, et disposant d’une terrasse de 27 m2) soit vingt-deux hébergements au total, tous conçus en bois. Un matériau de prédilection pour Arnaud, soucieux de rester en harmonie avec la nature et désireux de minimiser l’impact environnemental de son projet.

Du pur glamping, chaque construction étant pourvue de tout le confort nécessaire (cuisine, salle de bains, et WC séparés) pour séjourner en toute autonomie. Aussi faut-il prévoir ses victuailles pour le séjour, chaque hôte devant cuisiner lui-même ses repas. Alors pourquoi ne pas passer dans l’une des fermes environnantes pour acheter un panier de fruits et légumes bio ou du chèvre frais, sur les conseils locavores avisés d’Arnaud ? L’idée n’étant pas toutefois de séjourner reclus dans son lodge, mais bel et bien de goûter à certains moments de la journée aux joies de la communauté.
Des instants précieux de partage à expérimenter notamment dans le lounge. Ce vaste espace commun est lumineux grâce à sa verrière, et convivial grâce à sa cheminée autour de laquelle se rassembler pour boire un verre, pendant que les enfants s’amusent à l’étage dans la mezzanine faisant office de salle de jeux. Avec ses vélos, bottes en caoutchouc et K-Way mis à la disposition des hôtes, avec sa piscine extérieure chauffée, le Country Lodge offre à 1 h 30 de la capitale un lieu loin de toute pollution sonore et visuelle, permettant aux petits urbains de sentir le vent dans leurs mollets, de remplir leurs poumons d’air pur et leur tête de souvenirs. Un séjour riche d’éveil et d’apprentissages sensoriels, à partager avec leurs camarades de classe une fois le bitume retrouvé. Jusqu’aux prochaines vacances ?

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While she sits in healing lodge, there is little sign Terri-Lynne McClintic has changed her ways

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Rafferty had already violated the little girl once, in his car, down a lonely rural road. Tori — as she was known to friends and family — needed to urinate. It was McClintic who led her a few metres away.

“I told her she was a very strong girl. She said, like you? I said, you are much stronger.”

That was McClintic, speaking from the witness box, at Rafferty’s first-degree murder trial in 2012.

She took Tori back to her boyfriend. Tori didn’t want to let go of McClintic’s hand.

Read more:

Trudeau accuses Tories of ‘playing politics’ over Tori Stafford murder

“She asked me to stay with her. I tried to hold on to her hand but I couldn’t stay because I knew what was going to happen. I couldn’t be there for that. I left.”

McClintic, as the star witness against Rafferty, told court how she heard screams and, when she went back, saw Tori on the ground.

Put a garbage bag over the youngster’s head. Kicked her. Struck her over the head with a hammer.

Helped bury her under a nearby pile of rocks.

At her own half-day trial, two years earlier — most of the proceedings kept out of the media for seven months because of a publication ban — McClintic pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

“You are admitting you’re guilty of murdering Victoria Stafford?” Justice Dougald McDermid asked.

Yes.

“You understand that I will have no choice but to sentence you to life?”

Yes.

“Have you been threatened or coerced in any way to plead guilty?”

No.

“And why are you entering a guilty plea today?”

McClintic: “Because I feel it’s the right thing to do. A little girl lost her life. I need to give something back.”

Ninety-seven days passed before Tori’s remains were found.

Eight years into a mandatory life sentence with no chance for parole until the quarter-century mark, McClintic is doing cushy time at an Aboriginal healing lodge in Maple Leaf, Saskatchewan, although it’s unclear whether she has a drop of Indigenous blood in her.

The graphic details of Tori’s suffering during her last years on earth, well, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t want to hear them. “Ambulance-chasing politicians,” Trudeau called Conservative MPs, who hammered away at the Liberals this week in the House of Commons, decrying the child-killer’s transfer from the high-security Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.

A Tory motion on Wednesday to reverse the transfer was easily defeated. Trudeau didn’t even stay for the vote. He bailed.

In all likelihood, the opposition was indeed milking the gruesome details of abduction, rape and murder for political ends, jabbing the Liberals in their vulnerable wheelhouse underbelly as soft on crime. So what? There is no high road in covering one’s ears to the brutality Tori endured. Those of us who were in court, heard it from McClintic, were sickened too. But bearing witness is the least we can do for Tori. Trudeau must be made of daintier stuff.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale had already countered, limply, by punting the controversy to Correctional Services Canada, for a review of whether the move to the lodge was in accordance with the law. Correctional Services Canada, via commissioner Anne Kelly, is “comfortable” with the relocation. A relocation that took place last December, although McClintic had earlier been transferred to medium security on the Tory government watch.

Tori’s dad, Rodney Stafford, only learned of it a few weeks ago, when told by his mother she’d been contacted by Corrections, trying to reach him, because McClintic had applied for day passes. First he knew the murderess was at an Aboriginal healing lodge — a place without fences, with both single and family residential units so that children can stay with offenders. The emphasis is on reintegration, restorative justice, following Aboriginal practices and spirituality.

Rodney Stafford has been on a mission ever since, one he doesn’t consider political. He is imploring as a father, even posting a message to Trudeau on Facebook: “From father to father, can you kneel before your child’s headstone knowing they spent the last three hours of their life begging and pleading for mommy and daddy to come save them, alone, 8, scared, can you sleep soundly knowing there’s more injustice unfolding before you.”

This is not an indictment of healing lodges — nine of them across the country — which serve a useful purpose, created by 1992 national legislation to allow Aboriginal communities to provide correctional services, part of a larger undertaking to address overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the prison system.

The minimum security Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, where McClintic now resides in apartment-like units that include kitchenette, eating area and living room, is on land that belongs to Nekaneet First Nation. In has emerged that the band wasn’t happy about getting McClintic dumped on them either but had no choice; they lost having any input on prisoner selection six years ago.

“We have no say in who goes where,” Band Chief Alvin Francis told the CBC. “My heart goes out to the Stafford family because it’s a horrible crime.

“I can’t say it’s acceptable. (Elders) are concerned about who comes there. Because with no fence there, she can walk off, right?”

Band member Cherish Francis told CKOM News Talk Radio this week: “When you have cases like this that are horrendous it is a safety concern for everybody because we have children in our community and I know there are mothers out there in our community that are absolutely concerned for their children.”

McClintic had a crummy life, born to a stripper mother who gave her up to another stripper to raise, shuffled among foster homes, in trouble with the law from a young age, with booze and drugs persistent themes in her chaotic life. Only 18 herself on the day, April 8, 2009, when Tori was abducted and slain.

She is deeply, perhaps irreversibly damaged. But even the most bleeding heart among us grasp that she is also guilty of a ghastly crime, fully deserving of a life sentence. More worrisomely, there’s been little indication that McClintic has changed her violent ways at all since incarceration.

In 2012, she was back in court, pleading guilty — “yeah” — to a frenzied assault against another inmate at Grand Valley. Had planned to plead innocent on that charge until a damning letter, seized by a guard, surfaced during disclosure.

“I got in a couple shots, good ones, like one or two decent face shots, but the f—-n b—- totally threw me for a spin,” McClintic wrote to another incarcerated friend. “She pretty well curled up in the f—-n fetal position on the floor, arms over her face, legs curled, sometimes kicking. I was standing over her tryin to get some shots through her arms, finally I brought my foot up, tried stompin on her face a couple times … threw a couple kicks in the whole time. She’s like, what the f— Terri, what the f—, just saying it over and over … »

Head-stomping is what an enraged Terri-Lynne McClintic does.

Something she might want to ponder during “nature walks” at unfenced Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge.

Rosie DiManno is a columnist based in Toronto covering sports and current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno

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Protesters in Maple Creek, Sask., ‘infuriated’ by transfer of Tori Stafford’s killer to healing lodge

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Penny Steinkey had planned to travel to Calgary to see her grandchildren for Thanksgiving. Instead, she said she’ll spend her weekend at home in Maple Creek, Sask., protesting on behalf of another child — Tori Stafford.

« Because Tori doesn’t have that — I can give up a weekend for her, » she said of the eight-year-old, brutally raped and murdered in 2009.  

Steinkey was outraged when she heard that Stafford’s killer, Terri-Lynne McClintic, had been transferred to Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge on Nekaneet First Nation, located about 30 kilometres southeast of Maple Creek.

She and her friend Karri Williams have spent the past week walking along Maple Creek’s main street to protest McClintic’s transfer, and she says she’ll continue to protest until she is heard.

‘She’s not ready for that place’

« This woman, in my opinion, should be serving her time behind bars, not earning her way out of society after nine years of being in prison for murdering, raping and torturing an eight-year-old girl, » Steinkey said.

« I’m concerned about everybody that lives anywhere near this woman, every person that works out there, every inmate that’s out there, » she said, adding she also worries for the safety of the children of female inmates who may visit the healing lodge.

McClintic is currently serving a life sentence for her role in Tori’s death, and is not eligible for parole until 2031. In December, she was transferred to the healing lodge run by Correctional Services Canada.

Tori Stafford was eight years old when she was abducted and killed. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

Williams said she was « infuriated » when she learned McClintic had been living at the lodge for nine months, without anyone in the area being notified.

« You don’t send a murderer, what she’s done, to a place of healing. She’s not ready for that place, that’s for sure. »

Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge does important work for its inmates, say protesters, but they believe that Terri-Lynne McClintick has not done the work to be transferred to the healing lodge. (Correction Services Canada website)

Both women said they respect the rehabilitation work taking place at the healing lodge. They see the inmates from time to time, raking leaves or picking up garbage in Maple Creek, and describe them as part of the community.

They shipped her off to the farthest, most remote place they could find. And they don’t give a damn about us that live here.– Penny Steinkey, Maple Creek resident

« We love the healing lodge, » said Steinkey. « We all believe in it. But they have to work to get here. »

Williams and Steinkey said they have tried to contact Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale about their concerns, but have only received a form letter in response.

However, they say they are working with their Conservative MP and their neighbours at Nekaneet First Nation, who share their concerns about transfer.

« They shipped her off to the farthest, most remote place they could find, » said Steinkey.

« And they don’t give a damn about us that live here. »

Transfer sets off political clash

McClintic’s transfer has sparked heated debate and insults in the House of Commons.

The Opposition Conservatives have demanded the government reverse the decision, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decried the Conservatives as « ambulance-chasing politicians, » and said his government respects the independence of the judicial system.

In response to questions on Friday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he takes public concerns « very, very seriously, » which is why he’s asked Corrections Canada to review its policies and procedures leading to the transfer.  

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, right, has ordered the commissioner of Correctional Service of Canada to review a decision to send convicted killer Terri-Lynne McClintic, left, to an Indigenous healing lodge. (Canadian Press photos)

« This is not just a recent set of decisions. The decision-making flow goes back to 2014, » he said.

The review is meant to ensure public safety and that justice is carried out in all cases, not just in this particular instance, said Goodale.

He acknowledged the concerns expressed by the chief of Nekaneet First Nation, who said the band was « shocked » by the transfer. Chief Alvin Francis said that six years ago, his people lost any say over which prisoners were sent to the minimum-security lodge on its land.

« Where Indigenous values are engaged, then there needs to be ample consultation and advice and an ongoing role, » Goodale said, adding he expected this to be addressed in the review.

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Tony Clement says cases like transfer of Tori Stafford’s killer to healing lodge may lead to vigilantism

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Cases such as the transfer of Tori Stafford‘s killer out of prison and into an aboriginal healing lodge risk eroding public faith in the justice system and may lead to people taking matters into their own hands.

That’s what Conservative justice critic Tony Clement told reporters Wednesday morning in Ottawa. He said the Liberals should step in amid the news that Terri-Lynne McClintic, one of the two people convicted in the 2009 murder of eight-year-old Victoria ‘Tori’ Stafford, was being moved from a maximum-security prison to an aboriginal healing lodge.

That case, and a decision by Veterans Affairs Canada officials to let a convicted murderer receive veterans benefits despite never having served, are examples of cases that Clement says the government is failing to take seriously.

READ MORE: Tori Stafford’s family says woman convicted in her murder moved from prison to healing lodge

“This is a problem that is going to erode a feeling in our country that justice is being served and when that erodes, people take matters into their own hands,” he said when asked about the case while arriving on Parliament Hill.

“I’m not sanctioning that, I’m not calling for that. I’m merely saying when justice is not done, when people see the system is not serving the victims and their families, people get very upset and that’s not good for our society.”

When asked to clarify specifically what he meant, Clement said, “vigilantism.”

“It actually promotes vigilantism in our society.”

WATCH BELOW: McClintic wraps up testimony at Rafferty trial






Terri-Lynne McClintic pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 2010 while Michael Rafferty was convicted in a 2012 jury trial for Stafford’s first-degree murder.

Both are serving life sentences with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.

McClintic also pleaded guilty to assaulting a fellow inmate in 2012.

WATCH BELOW: Rodney Stafford’s victim impact statement






According to the Correctional Service Canada website, the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge where McClintic has been moved “was built with the intention of housing incarcerated Aboriginal women.”

It can hold about 60 people in its open campus facility and is located on the Nekaneet First Nation.

What is not clear at this time is whether McClintic is aboriginal or whether the lodge is open to convicts who are not aboriginal.

WATCH BELOW: Tara McDonald’s victim impact statement






Global News has requested clarification from Correctional Services Canada about what the criteria are for moving an inmate there.

In an interview with CTV’s Power Play on Tuesday night, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale was also asked about the case.

Specifically, he was asked why McClintic is being moved now after serving just eight years in maximum-security prison when she is not due to be eligible for parole for years.

“The prison management officials have determined this is the best way to both rectify her bad practices in the past and also to keep the public safe,” he said.

Clement criticized the transfer on Twitter as bringing McClintic to a place with “no walls, but cooking and workshops.”

He also told reporters the decision was “swerving away from the sentence” handed down by the judge.

“The fact of the matter is this so-called punishment does not fit the crime,” he said.

“If she’s taking undue advantage of a program that is not meant for her, that’s not right.”

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Tori Stafford’s family angry after child killer sent to Saskatchewan healing lodge

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The family of murdered schoolgirl Tori Stafford says they’re angry after receiving official notice from Corrections Canada that one of the girl’s killers has been transferred to a minimum security aboriginal healing lodge in Saskatchewan.

Terri-Lynne McClintic, 28, pleaded guilty in 2010 to first-degree murder in the death of Stafford, the eight year old whose disappearance captured the attention of the country for months as police scoured the countryside in what was then the largest-ever search for a missing person in Canada. 

Corrections Canada would not confirm McClintic’s current whereabouts citing privacy reasons, but a spokeswoman said McClintic is serving « an indeterminate life sentence » for first-degree murder and won’t be eligible for parole until May 19, 2031. 

Tori Stafford was eight years-old when she disappeared in 2009. Her body was later found in a clandestine grave in a farmer’s field about 100 kilometres north of Woodstock, Ont.

McClintic lured the young girl

When Tori vanished while walking home from school in Woodstock, Ont. on April 8, 2009, it was McClintic who lured her into the waiting car of Michael Rafferty.

Rafferty, McClintic’s then-boyfriend, is also serving a life sentence for first-degree murder in the little girl’s death. The pair drove the girl first to Guelph and later Mount Forest, 100 kilometres north of Woodstock, where Rafferty sexually assaulted and murdered the girl before the pair buried her body in a clandestine grave in a farmer’s field. 

Terri-Lynne McClintic and Michael Rafferty have both been convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Victoria Stafford. (Canadian Press)

Stafford’s family say they recently received official notice from the federal government that McClintic has been transferred, from  the Grand Valley Institution for Women, a maximum security facility in Kitchener, Ont., to the Okima Ohci Healing Lodge for Aboriginal Women on Nekaneet First Nation in southern Saskatchewan. 

Created in 1995 and located 400 kilometres from the nearest Corrections Canada facility, the Okima Ohci Healing Lodge is unique in the prison system, according to the federal government’s website. 

The facility was, according Corrections Canada, « built with the intention of housing incarcerated Aboriginal women. The focus on ‘Healing’ was to be the priority for Aboriginal women offenders. »

« The practices, culture and values of the Nekaneet is taught to the residents, » the website said, noting that prisoners are taught, « empowerment, meaningful and responsible choices, respect and dignity, supportive environment and shared responsibility. »

Ontario Provincial Police detective Jim Smyth, right, has been praised for eliciting a confession from Terri-Lynne McClintic, left, about her involvement in the death of Tori Stafford.

While Indigenous women get priority at the open-concept facility, « non-Aboriginal offenders can also live at a healing lodge. However, they must choose to follow Aboriginal programming and spirituality. In all cases, we thoroughly assess an offender’s risk to public safety before a decision is made to move him or her to a healing lodge, » Corrections Canada spokeswoman Esther Mailhot said Monday in an email to CBC News. 

Child killer told court about difficult upbringing

McClintic spent days under the glare of the national media spotlight when she testified at her former boyfriend’s murder trial. During those proceedings, the court heard about her troubled childhood, one where she was abandoned by her birth mother, who gave her to a fellow stripper named Carol McClintic.

They moved every couple of years and McClintic went to many different schools, where she was bullied for being a stripper’s daughter and her attendance was a problem.

The court heard how McClintic began taking illegal drugs when she was only eight-years-old, often wrote out violent fantasies in letters and journals and once microwaved her dog. 

McClintic was convicted in 2012 for beating up another inmate in prison and reportedly said she regretted the incident, but only for not causing the woman worse injuries. 

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