About the different lodges

Healing lodges operate in one of two ways. Either CSC runs the lodge, or Indigenous partner or community organizations manage it. In the second case, the Indigenous community partner organizations sign an agreement with CSC under Section 81 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA). In both cases, CSC provides funding. There are currently nine healing lodges across Canada funded and/or operated by CSC.

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Healing lodges operated by CSC

Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge

Maple Creek, Saskatchewan

The Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge is a multi-level security facility for women. It is located 32 km south of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan on Nekaneet First Nation land. As the first healing lodge for women offenders, it provides a unique environment where minimum and medium security offenders can work toward changing their lives through the educational, vocational, correctional and social programs available to them.

Exterior view of Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge.

Institutional summary

Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge is located on the Nekaneet First Nation, near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. The Healing Lodge is 150 km from the nearest large city (Medicine Hat, Alberta) and more than 400 km from other CSC facilities. The location of Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge on the Nekaneet First Nation is unique in that the Nekaneet continue to live in traditional ways. The practices, culture and values of the Nekaneet are taught to the residents. There are many traditional ceremonies at Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge.

Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge's name means "thunder hills" in Cree. The healing lodge and building are circular rather than hierarchical. The focal point is the spiritual lodge where teachings, ceremonies, and workshops with Elders take place. Okimaw Ohci contains both single and family residential units, as offenders may have their children stay with them. Each unit has a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchenette with an eating area, and a living room.

A personal life plan is created for each Indigenous offender outlining what she needs emotionally, physically, and spiritually to help with her rehabilitation. Programs help offenders build the strength they need to make essential changes in their lives. Programs address vocational training, family and children, Indigenous language, and nature. The women learn how to live independently by cooking, doing laundry, cleaning, and doing outdoor maintenance chores.

Role of the Indigenous Community

The Memorandum of Understanding with the Nekaneet First Nation's territory ensures the healing lodge is staffed by Indigenous persons from the community. The relationship with the community is further strengthened through shared delivery of services and programs, including:

Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge and the Nekaneet First Nation ensure that policy and regulations are interconnected with the Indigenous teachings of the community. The Nekaneet First Nation members have a voice within CSC through the contributions of the Elders and staff members. Staff reinforce the teachings of the Elders and ensure that the Nekaneet ceremonies and cultural laws are followed. Regular Elder meetings are held on site, including one of the Keepers of the Vision who is a contract Elder. One Citizen Advisory Committee member also holds a position on the Nekaneet Band Council.

Pê Sâkâstêw Centre

Maskwacis, Alberta

Pê Sâkâstêw Centre is a minimum-security facility for men. It is located in the town of Mâskwâcîs, Alberta, which is about 90 km south of Edmonton. CSC leases close to a quarter section of land (157.69 acres) from the Samson Cree Nation, one of the four bands that make up the community of Mâskwâcîs. As one of CSC's healing lodges for male offenders, Pê Sâkâstêw Centre offers a wide range of spiritually and culturally appropriate interventions. These interventions are core to the Indigenous Continuum of Care and foster a traditional healing environment that supports the reintegration of Indigenous offenders back into the community. Inmates are housed in units that resemble apartments, with each housing unit accommodating a maximum of five offenders.

Pê Sâkâstêw Centre

Institutional summary

  • institution for male offenders
  • security level: minimum
  • date opened: 1997
  • rated capacity: 60

Pê Sâkâstêw Centre is pronounced bay-saw-ga-stay-o. It means "new beginnings" in Cree. The architectural design reflects the Indigenous worldview. Six circular buildings are arranged in a large circle on the 40-acre site. Symbols significant to the Samson Cree Nation, such as the medicine wheel, the four directions, and the colours red, yellow, white, and blue, are integrated into the centre's design.

Programs at Pê Sâkâstêw are based on the belief that Indigenous spirituality is central to the healing process for Indigenous offenders. Elders and staff from surrounding Indigenous communities teach offenders traditional values and spiritual practices. At the same time, they offer training and counseling and serve as role models.

The relationship with the community is strengthened through work releases and community service escorted temporary absences (ETAs) that allow offenders to offer their time and skills in the community (e.g., for pipe ceremonies, sundances, etc.). Elders help bridge the institution and community through weekly cultural temporary absences where residents can engage, learn and heal under the direct guidance of an Elder. A few examples of community engagement opportunities include:

  • a community garden where fresh produce is donated to the community
  • community clean up and brush clearing
  • picking medicines for ceremonial purposes

The Centre utilizes a holistic healing approach, with the daily structure and routine primarily guided by Elders (e.g., each day begins with a smudging and teaching). In addition to core programming, cultural events are held twice weekly on the grounds, which allow the residents to work closely with the Elders as part of their healing journey.

Role of the Indigenous community

The Centre's mission is to assist offenders along their healing journey and provide them with the skills, tools and support to re-enter the community as law-abiding citizens. Samson Cree Nation plays a large and integral role in this healing journey. The Memorandum of Understanding with the Samson Cree Nation ensures the healing lodge is staffed with Indigenous persons from the Samson Cree Band. Samson Cree Nation delegates Elders from their Nation to sit on the Elders Senate. The Senate works in an advisory capacity with the executive director for the management and operation of the healing lodge to ensure programs are culturally appropriate and to provide support, assistance and advice on the spiritual and cultural traditions provided for the Owîcîyîsîwâk. Samson Cree Nation contributes to offender reintegration by providing counseling services at Maskwacis Counseling Services and assisting with employment opportunities.

The community offers opportunities for offenders to rebuild relationships (e.g., with Elders, family members, employers, and victims through restorative justice and ceremonies). It provides ongoing support through community agencies (e.g., Wahkohtowin Community Centre, Nipisihkopahk Education Authority, and the Samson Cree Nation Community Planning and Development for community initiatives and housing). It also offers venues for offenders to showcase their hobby craft items (e.g., at the Nipsis Cafe). Pê Sâkâstêw also partners with the Samson Cree Nation Operation/ Tribal Support Elders Program to provide wood and rocks for ceremonial purposes and/or home heating, and liaises with the Nipishkopahk Pamihowin (Justice Tribunal) to facilitate the smooth transition of offenders into the community.

Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village

Harrison Mills, British Columbia

Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village is a minimum-security institution for Indigenous men. It is located about 140 km east of Vancouver, British Columbia in the community of Harrison Mills. The site includes 75.326 acres of land granted to CSC under the terms of a special use permit from the Province of British Columbia.

The closest neighboring community to the institution is the Sts'ailes First Nation community.

Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village

Institutional summary

  • institution for male Indigenous offenders
  • security level: minimum
  • date opened: 1976 as Elbow Lake, renamed Kwìkwèxwelhp in 2001
  • rated capacity: 50

The institution originally opened as Elbow Lake Institution in 1976. In 2001, Elbow Lake Institution was renamed Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village. This name means "where medicine is collected". Kwìkwèxwelhp has the only longhouse within Canada's correctional facilities. The institution is known as the fifth longhouse on the traditional territory of Sts'ailes. Staff and Elders practice traditional and holistic Indigenous teachings. The facility provides holistic programs, as well as training and maintenance skills to improve employability.

Role of the Indigenous community

The Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village provides a safe and supportive environment. The Healing Village encourages individual growth and healing while preparing Indigenous offenders for release back into the community as law-abiding citizens. The Sts'ailes Nation plays a large and integral role in supporting the Indigenous offenders in a healing journey. Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Sts'ailes and Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village work together to foster employment and training opportunities to better prepare Indigenous offenders for their community reintegration.

The MOU with Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village also ensures Indigenous persons from the local Sts'ailes community staff the Healing Village. Sts'ailes delegates Elders from the community to work with Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village to provide support, assistance, and advice on the spiritual and cultural traditions provided to Indigenous offenders. Sts'ailes also partners with the Healing Village to provide wood and rocks (grandfathers) for ceremonial purposes. Included as part of this MOU, an independent body of community leaders known as "Si Wesalh Slelhals" (or Senate) provides the Healing Village with advice regarding traditional healing and restorative beliefs. In addition to the relationship with Sts'ailes, Kwìkwèxwelhp also works closely with other surrounding Indigenous communities.

Kwìkwèxwelhp works with Telmexw Awtexw, a day program healing center in Sts'ailes, where Indigenous offenders are sent on unescorted temporary absences to participate in this 12-week program. The Healing Village also works with 'Aghelh Nebun, an Indigenous-focused Community Residential Facility in Prince George, BC to provide Indigenous offenders (for work release/day parole) with vocational training for 90 days. During their time at 'Aghelh Nebun' the Soaring With Eagles Aboriginal Wellness program for addiction and recovery is conducted through Elder teachings based on the medicine wheel. The Healing Village also partners with College of New Caledonia in Prince George, BC for vocational training for 12 weeks to support Indigenous offenders on unescorted temporary absence. Indigenous offenders at the Healing Village also attend a local community garden through the L.I.N.C Society on escorted temporary absences and work release. Through this, they are able to give back to the community and support victims of crime.

Willow Cree Healing Lodge

Duck Lake, Saskatchewan

Willow Cree Healing Lodge (WCHL) is a minimum-security facility for men. It is located in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. The Elders chose the site with healing in mind. WCHL was built in a pristine natural area, sacred to the Willow Cree. The design of the healing lodge reflects the culture of the surrounding Indigenous communities. WCHL promotes a healing process based on Indigenous culture. This contributes to the successful reintegration of Indigenous offenders.

Inmates are housed in one of 10 single-storey housing units for eight occupants each. Two of these units are accessible.

Willow Cree Healing Lodge

Institutional summary

  • institution for male offenders
  • security level: minimum
  • date opened: April 2004
  • rated capacity: 80

Willow Cree Healing Lodge is located on the Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation Reserve near Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. The Cree name is Nîpisikopawiyiniwak Nânâtawihôkamik. Offenders are referred to as "Nîcisân" or "Nîcisânak". This is a Cree word for "brother" or "brothers". The healing lodge is staffed primarily with Indigenous people from the Beardy's and Okemasis First Nations and other Indigenous communities.

Willow Cree offers holistic programming that involves the community and Elders. This fosters the offender's personal growth, cultural identity, and the development of healthy and balanced living. Programs address substance abuse, family violence, parenting and anger management. There are also sex offender programs and Elder services. All core treatment programs have intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual components. Willow Cree also offers training in carpentry and food handling, as well as courses geared towards oil field safety, mining, forestry (fire fighting), and first aid/CPR.

Role of the Indigenous community

CSC entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation which ensures the healing lodge is staffed by Indigenous persons from the Beardy's and Okemasis community; it also ensures that the community provides guidance, support and assistance to the healing lodge in its operations as a healing facility. A board of directors meets regularly with the executive director in an advisory capacity to ensure that the management and operation of the healing lodge accomplishes its mandate within a restorative model of justice while respecting the cultural and spiritual vision, values and traditions of the Indigenous community. The lodge also engages the local Beardy's and Okemasis Elders Council and the Citizen Advisory Committee to ensure community input, collaboration and consultation. The spiritual teachings conveyed by the Elders of the Beardy's and Okemasis community form the spiritual foundation of the healing lodge and are integral to its program delivery.

Section 81 healing lodges operated by the community

Stan Daniels Healing Centre

Stan Daniels Healing Centre

Edmonton, Alberta

Institutional summary

  • managed by: Section 81 - Native Counseling Services of Alberta
  • security level: minimum security for men and a community residential facility (CRF) for offenders on conditional release in the community
  • date opened: 1999
  • number of beds: 73

The Stan Daniels Healing Centre provides a safe, structured, and respectful environment for offenders, their families, and the community. The centre emphasizes holistic healing and uses strong cultural identity as the foundation for building self-esteem. Elders play a critical role as spiritual and cultural teachers. With guidance from Elders, feedback from residents, and the contributions of staff, residents are given the opportunity to heal, grow spiritually, and reconnect with Indigenous culture.

Programming is culturally sensitive. It focuses on relationships, loss and recovery, family, relapse prevention, healing, and substance abuse. Offenders are also encouraged to take part in traditional ceremonies, such as the Sundance Ceremony.

Waseskun Healing Centre

Aerial view of Waseskun Healing Centre.

St-Alphonse-Rodriguez, Quebec

Institutional summary

The Waseskun Healing Centre is located approximately an hour from Montreal, Quebec, in the foothills of the Laurentian mountain range. The centre works closely with different Indigenous communities from across Canada, including the northern regions. It offers French and English holistic teachings. These focus on each offender's physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health, in order to help them regain balance in their lives. Waseskun's overall aim is to empower residents to accept responsibility for their own actions and understand the consequences they have created for themselves, their victims, families, and communities.

Programs follow a community-based and holistic healing philosophy that incorporates both Western and traditional therapeutic approaches. The centre strongly encourages Indigenous communities to participate in the healing journey and reintegration of their members. Some of the services provided include:

O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi Healing Lodge

Exterior view of O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi Healing Lodge.

Crane River, Manitoba

Institutional summary

O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi Healing Lodge helps offenders to heal, grow spiritually, and integrate successfully into the community. There is a strong focus on mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional healing. Importance is placed on traditional Indigenous values, beliefs, and practices. An Indigenous architect designed the Earthen Spiritual Centre, which consists of a tipi-inspired central lodge, four residences, and a place for visitors. The design inspires spiritual healing and growth.

Offenders are encouraged to follow their healing plan and take rehabilitation programs that focus on:

Programs emphasize the importance of better lifestyle choices, including nutrition, exercise, stress relief, anger management, parenting, and sexual/health issues.

Buffalo Sage Wellness House

Buffalo Sage Wellness House

Edmonton, Alberta

Institutional summary

  • managed by: Section 81 Native Counselling Services of Alberta
  • security level: minimum/medium security for women, as well as a community residential facility (CRF) for women offenders who are on release in the community
  • date opened: 2011
  • number of beds: 28

At the Buffalo Sage Wellness House, staff and Elders prepare women offenders to return to the community by helping them make appropriate choices and positive changes in their lives.

Buffalo Sage helps women identify their needs in order to create a correctional plan that will help them with their holistic and spiritual rehabilitation and self-esteem. Programs are culturally sensitive. They are held in a structured and traditional environment that reflects the needs of the Indigenous woman offender, community, and releasing authorities.

Prince Albert Grand Council Spiritual Healing Lodge

Aerial view of Prince Albert Grand Council Spiritual Healing Lodge.

Wahpeton First Nation, Saskatchewan

Institutional summary

The Prince Albert Grand Council Spiritual Healing Lodge is a 10-minute drive from downtown Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on the Wahpeton First Nation.

The lodge provides First Nations people a solid grounding in their culture, values and customs. The spiritual, mental, physical and emotional needs of those in the healing lodge are addressed with a focus on self-healing through programs, Indigenous spirituality and culture. Offenders have individualized healing plans and work with their caseworkers and with Elders to develop a healing contract.

The healing process is based on cultural values and beliefs, and Elders are the heart of the healing lodge, providing counselling, ceremony, and guidance as well as vision and integrity. An integral part of this process is community reintegration planning. This involves the participation of families, extended families, home communities, and whenever possible, victim-offender circles.

The lodge stresses the importance of role models and offers pipe ceremonies and sweat lodges, as well as access to programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Those who want to take part in community-based programs are provided the opportunity to do so.

Eagle Women’s Lodge

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Institutional summary

The Eagle Women’s Lodge offers holistic programs that focus on self-identity, self esteem, the intergenerational cycle of violence, grief and loss, as well as intergenerational trauma. Onsite opportunities to enhance education and employment skills also promote personal and spiritual growth. Residents are given the opportunity to heal, grow and reconnect with Indigenous culture through activities, support and ceremonies offered by Elders/Spiritual Advisors. With more access to family, community support and programs, Indigenous women offenders will benefit from gradual and structured release in an Indigenous cultural environment, leading to anticipated improvements in long-term reintegration results.

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Community organizations interested in entering into a Section 81 Agreement - Find information about how a community can start the application process to provide correctional services to Indigenous offenders.

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