Canada’s ongoing colonial policies have resulted in an overrepresentation of Indigenous people within the criminal justice system. Patti LaBoucane-Benson comments on this issue in her graphic novel, “The Outside Circle”:
“For many Aboriginal people and families, the legacy of historical trauma has been the intergenerational transmission of hopelessness, helplessness, and powerlessness.”2
In an effort to address the historical traumas experienced by overrepresented Indigenous offenders in the system, Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA) has developed two initiatives in particular: Stan Daniels and Buffalo Sage. Today’s blog post will look at both programs as a means to help overcome the “hopelessness, helplessness, and powerlessness” felt by Indigenous people within the system.
Stan Daniels Healing Centre
Stan Daniels is a 72-bed facility with both a Community Residential Facility and a Section 81 designation. Residents are either conditionally released offenders (day parole, full parole, or statutory release with residency), or residents with inmate status.3
The philosophy of the centre is based on the belief that Indigenous offenders require specific programming to address their needs socially, educationally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.4
There are a variety of programs offered through Stan Daniels including: Relationships, Grief and Loss, Family Life Improvement, and ‘In Search of Your Warrior’. The ‘In Search of Your Warrior Violent Offender Healing Program’ was the focus of LaBoucane-Benson’s graphic novel, and is recognized by Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) as an “effective, Aboriginal specific program that addresses the needs of Aboriginal violent offenders.”5 NCSA describes the program as:
“grounded in a holistic Aboriginal philosophy: the belief that all things are connected and that for sustainable change to occur, an individual must engage the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of self in the changing/learning/healing process. The In Search of Your Warrior Program helps residents understand the effects of personal and historical trauma in [their] behavior and provides them opportunities to connect with their healing path.”6
Institutions in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Quebec have applied the ‘In Search of Your Warrior Program’, made possible through a partnership between CSC and NCSA.
Buffalo Sage Wellness House
Buffalo Sage is a 16-bed women’s facility, that houses federally sentenced minimum security Section 81 inmates, as well as conditionally released offenders on day parole, statutory release with residency or full parole with residency.7
The philosophy behind Buffalo Sage mirrors that of Stan Daniels, focusing on the knowledge that Indigenous offenders and non-Indigenous offenders following Indigenous culture require specific programs to address their social, educational, emotional, physical and spiritual needs in a culturally sensitive approach.8
Programs offered at Buffalo Sage include Independent Living Skills, as well as cultural and spiritual programs such as: Relationship training, Grief and Loss, and the Spirit of A Warrior Program. In order to be successful in operating these programs, the NCSA has an extensive network of Elders, ceremonialists and healers. Full-time Elders are present to provide emotional and spiritual support, as well as act as role models for the women. In addition to programming offered at Buffalo Sage, the women are required to regularly attend Sharing Circles, Sweat Ceremonies, Powwows, Round Dances, Night Lodge Ceremonies, and year-round Sun Dance Ceremonies.9
The Stan Daniels Healing Centre and Buffalo Sage Wellness House are just two examples of Indigenous-led initiatives that help to reconcile the overrepresentation of Indigenous offenders. Tomorrow we look to other initiatives on-Reserve to help overcome obstacles for Indigenous people and the criminal justice system.
Until next time,
Team ReconciliAction YEG
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 Art by Kelly Mellings, in Patti LaBoucane-Benson, The Outside Circle: A Graphic Novel (Toronto, House of Anansi Press: 2015).
 Patti LaBoucane-Benson, The Outside Circle: A Graphic Novel (Toronto, House of Anansi Press: 2015).
 Native Counselling Services of Alberta, Stan Daniels Healing Centre (Edmonton: Native Counselling Services of Alberta, 2017), online: <https://www.ncsa.ca/programs/corrections/stan-daniels-healing-centre/>.
 Native Counselling Services of Alberta, Buffalo Sage Wellness House(Edmonton: Native Counselling Services of Alberta, 2017), online: <https://www.ncsa.ca/programs/corrections/buffalo-sage-wellness-house/>.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
To receive daily alerts to our blog, email the words "add me" to email@example.com.