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Aboriginal Sex Offenders: Melding Spiritual Healing with Cognitive-Behavioural Treatment

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Sharon Williams, Ph.D., C. Psych., Manager, Sex Offender Programs
Stéphane Vallée, Research Assistant
Bill Staubi, Senior Project Manager

August 1997

I was asked to do a drawing which would depict Native culture.

I chose to draw the Elder, as it is they

that are the teacher of our culture.

I chose the Circle, as it is in the Circle, we learn.

I chose the Eagle, as it is through the Eagle our prayers are carried to the Creator.

All my relations

Maurice Bugler

When I was first asked how aboriginal Sex Offenders should be treated, I told the Corporate Advisor of aboriginal Programs that aboriginals were first and foremost men who had sexually assaulted. I have since had an opportunity to modify this perspective.

As a Québecois and later an Ontarian, I had had little exposure to the history of Canadian aboriginals, and little contact with aboriginals who are less commonly incarcerated in Ontario. Over the period 1994 to 1997, the aboriginal Advisory Committee and the National Committee on Sex Offender Strategy met numerous times to educate one another regarding the social and cultural differences between aboriginals and non-aboriginals. I am particularly indebted to the Elders, Medicine Men and Women, educators, lawyers, Psychologists and Committee members who devoted considerable time and effort to bridging the gap between our cultures. The stories, songs, sweat lodges, and exposure to mainstream therapy sessions helped all of us to understand that healing can take more than one form. Although the term aboriginal defines an array of languages, cultures, and geographic locations, it has become increasingly evident that the aboriginals who commit sexual assaults have needs that may go beyond "western" cognitive-behavioural approaches.

I speak on behalf of the National Committee on Sex Offender Strategy, in thanking Teresa Nahanee, Sharon McIvor, Isabelle Impey, Millard Beane, Dale LeClair,

Sara Anala and all of the many aboriginal people who have told their stories and informed our policy regarding treatment of aboriginal Sex Offenders.

All my relations,

Sharon M. Williams

Sharon M. Williams