Nippi-Albright: Focus needs to be on building community solutions, need to tackle the root causes

Stats Canada data shows that Saskatchewan’s Indigenous incarceration rates double the national average

REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Critic for First Nations and Métis Relations Betty Nippi-Albright and Opposition Justice and Corrections Critic Nicole Sarauer were joined by Indigenous Women Leaders from across Saskatchewan, as well as the Elizabeth Fry Society, to jointly call on the government to take immediate action to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous women in provincial correctional centres.

“This is a government that has shown time and time again that it is failing Indigenous women in this province. This is a top-down failure by this Sask. Party government to properly address the very issues that lead to crime: like poverty, inadequate housing, mental health and addictions,” said Nippi-Albright. “How are we supposed to fix this if we aren’t willing to address the root causes? We need to actually build solutions to housing, in access to mental health supports and ensure that those needed services are in place, especially for those reintegrating into the community. Otherwise, we’re going to continue to see these failures.” 

Saskatchewan has the highest rates of Indigenous incarceration among the provinces, more than double the national average. Over-representation of Indigenous women incarcerated was highest in Saskatchewan among all provinces at 28.5 times higher than the non-Indigenous population, followed by Alberta at 15.5. That means that the overrepresentation of Indigenous women in Saskatchewan prisons is 84% higher than Alberta, the province with the second highest rates. Despite repeated reports highlighting this government’s failures, little has been done to address them.

“The Sask. Party’s out of sight, out of mind strategy is failing. It’s just not working,” said Sarauer. “The supports need to be there. We need a strategy that works with community-based organizations to tackle those barriers — specifically around housing — and get those wrap-around services in place that gets people back on their feet.”

Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert is consistently over capacity. Its official capacity is 166, but in July 2023 it was housing 263 women — 156 of those were on remand.

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