We Are All Treaty People

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Working towards Reconciliation in Corrections


In Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Corrections and Policing is working towards Reconciliation.

“There is no doubt Reconciliation needs to be top of mind,” said Fred Tarr, Director of First Nations and Métis Services for the Ministry.

They have marked their commitment with the purchase of Treaty medals, which have been framed and with the words, “We are All Treaty People”.

One of the framed medals was presented to each of the custody intuitions during this year’s Cultural Gathering in September, Tarr said.

“They were greatly appreciated by everyone in the room, not just our staff, but our Elders and Chaplains as well. The response has been extremely positive,” he said.

“The desire is that these medals be hung near the entrance of each facility, so that everyone who walks in the door is able to see that we recognize in corrections that absolutely we are all Treaty people.”

The relationship between Corrections and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner goes back to 2015, when a strategic alliance was signed for the office to provide training to all new correctional officers in Indigenous perceptions including history, culture and worldview.

“The feedback has been phenomenal,” said Tarr.

“They are seeing our new staff come in with a more informed frame of mind with regards to culture particularly Indigenous cultures, which is our goal.”

The work in corrections in Saskatchewan in being noticed by other jurisdictions.

“I have been engaged by other provinces in regards to ‘how do you do your business,’” he said.

People want to know about Tarr’s position and the work of the Cultural Coordinators in the institutions. Tarr says it is gratifying to see the positive reach expand like a ripple in a pond.

He adds that all this work is possible because they take the time to hear and understand the stories of the impacts of Residential Schools and the 60s Scoop.

“We need to hear how being a 60s scoop survivor has impacted our clients and their families, and that within itself is a small step towards Reconciliation,” Tarr said.

“We need to remember in order to be able to promote change.”

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