CAP empathizes with Indigenous inmates

After attending many court cases, Kim Beaudin, national vice chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), speaks out about Corrections Service Canada (CSC).

Beaudin has been attending Myles Sanderson’s inquest, an Indigenous man who murdered 11 people in 2022. Read ment/news-and-media/2024/january/26/inquest-in- to-the-death-of-myles-sanderson

Beaudin realized many things while attending Sanderson’s inquest: these court case systems have different recommendations — a report written to propose or recommend the options available to solve a problem.

Elder Geraldine Arcand, who has worked with CSC for the past decade, was involved with Sanderson in the initial intake process when he began serving a federal prison sentence in 2019.

“The first day I met him, he was quiet, but he spoke. He was respectful and talked about his childhood and all that transpired from there,” she said.

Beaudin added that Sanderson, whose childhood was marked by violence, participated in programs even though he was struggling.

“He sort of snapped, and we’ll never know what happened,” he said.

Sanderson died in police custody four days after the killings in James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatch- ewan. According to Beaudin, the help most Indigenous Peoples receive in prison is not sufficient. APTN News reported that “$1 billion represents the approximate amount of money CSC spends incarcerating Indigenous Peoples each year, who represent 32 percent of people in federal prison.” calls-on-feds-to-strip-1b-from-correctional-service- of-canada-budget/

As Beaudin described, CSC’s budget in 2023-24 for federal prison is only $3.05 billion, up from $4 million from the previous budget. This is relatively low, he pointed out. “There’s no funding element attached to those [Sanderson’s case] recommendations,” Beaudin said. “They have a massive budget, and only five percent of that budget reaches community people, only five percent. That’s so low. It’s really small . . . $3.1 billion is nothing.”

Beaudin said this money should be distributed to the community so people can truly address the over-incarceration warehousing of Indigenous Peoples. He also said this budget should focus on the care and mental health of Indigenous prisoners.

Moving forward, Beaudin plans to have five recommendations ready for his next court attendance. He will have updates on Sanderson’s inquiry soon. For more information about Sanderson’s case, read james-smith-cree-nation-inquest-day-11-1.7096644

Julia Archelene Magsombol, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer