Editorial: Are community standards needed for released sex offenders?

When it comes to protecting children, the more information adults are armed with, the better. All children have the right to live happy and safe lives, especially in our home community.

But when it comes to sex crimes against children — where does protecting the right of an offender to resume life after jail fall on the schematic?

Whose right is it anyway?

Ex-Pastor Ronald Burning’s release into society after serving just a few years behind bars for decades of sexual crimes against children and youth comes at a strange time — on the heels of the Catholic pope refusing to apologize for notorious sexual crimes connected to Canada’s church and state run residential schools.

On the one hand, the Roman Catholic voice of Christ is giving an international ‘sorry-not-sorry’ to indigenous people for the part his institution played in the sexual assaults of indigenous children across Canada.

Simultaneously, the Canadian justice system decided that Burning had served the system enough time. In spite of confessing to the parole board that he still perceived children in a sexual manner, the system opted to grant him a full release.

Is anyone else spiritually exhausted with other people setting the bar height on forgiveness here?

Apparently, Canada will decide what reconciliation looks like, invite us to be a part of it and then dole out the terms and conditions of if it applies or not. ‘Good little Indians – it’s time now to forgive and forget.’ A tune all too familiar to the indigenous people of Six Nations.

When will the paternalism end? Does it ever? In a community where we are well aware of the risks associated with sexual assaults against our women directly affecting the overall risk factor of becoming a statistic among missing and murdered indigenous women and girls – when will our community become armed with enough information and protocols to protect our children and create a safe society for them to grow up in?

Can Six Nations of the Grand River create our own standards for sex offenders released back into the community? It may be overdue.

In 2011, a Six Nations man was convicted of sexually assaulting two young females, aged 10 and 11 years old.

A few years later that same man was subsequently convicted of sexually assaulting children in a second instance, this time two teenage girls — one of whom became pregnant during an assault.

He was released from jail in 2015 and resumed residency on Six Nations. There was no general public announcement made and no details for neighbours about the conditions of his release.

But when it comes to risk-factors — shouldn’t there be a community-based response available when it comes to sex offenders resuming residency on Six Nations?

Just last month a group of community parents responded to criminal risk nearby an elementary school by protesting on the road beside the school. Can our community agree that convicted sex offenders should not be permitted to reside near an elementary school?

Upon release, Ontario requires sex offenders on the registry to register in person with nearby police stations.

If we are truly politically independent, seeking a nation-to-nation relationship and working to escape paternalistic structures – let’s do something nationalistic to protect our kids. Let’s start by creating a Six Nations run sex offenders registry set by our own terms. Require registration in person, require the offender to participate in restorative measures in exchange for their return to the community.

The Six Nations Dajoh Youth Centre is now connected to the Six Nations Community Hall, Gaylord Powless Arena and Six Nations Fairgrounds, which also touches two elementary school grounds. How can residents of Six Nations prevent sex offenders access to those grounds and protect the vulnerable sector if we have no local standards of our own outside of what Ontario tells us to do?

Protect the future generations from harm and offenders from re-offending. Perhaps this could be the big unifying move between the HCCC and the SNEC someday.

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