Correctional Service Canada
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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Survey of Federally Sentenced Aboriginal Women in the Community


We would like to thank Elders Helen Novescamp, Joan Lavallee, Edna Manitawabi, Jean Aquash, Art Soloman, Nista Hiya, and Sam Novescamp for their love and support for Aboriginal people in prison. Without their support and encouragement we would still be struggling for positive growth and identities. We would also like to thank all the people who came into Native Sisterhood pow-wows every year. Your presence and commitment is highly appreciated. We'd like to say Meegwetch to Native Sisterhood resource people who came into our Monday night meetings. We'd like to thank the liaison service staff. Special thanks to Trish Monture for ever believing in us, teaching us, and depending on us as sisters. Without all these people we would have often stood alone and lost in the maze of prison bullshit. We are grateful to Tony Smith for his help in maintaining our focus and purpose throughout this project. We would like to make special mention of the women who trusted us, shared with us and gave us encouragement to finish this project. Most importantly we salute and honour the women who have lived and died in the course of their federal sentences.

We have been participants in the Task Force only because we feel a deep responsibility to our sisters still inside the walls. This, then, is our first and foremost responsibility, to First Nations' women in Canadian prisons, to echo their silenced pleas for improved lives. Our second responsibility is to the Aboriginal Women's Caucus and the Native Women's Association of Canada who made it possible for our voices to be heard by the 13th Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women. Our third responsibility is an Aboriginal women to the seven generations of unborn Aboriginal people who will upon Earth Mother.

We were told by Elders to be careful of the words we speak, that our words may affect the next generation of Aboriginal people who come into conflict with the law, that our words could fall back upon us to hurt us in the future. For perhaps the first time, Aboriginal women prisoners have been given the opportunity to tell our stories, to speak our truth and our understanding, to use our own words, and speak with our own voices. Our words are words of sharing.