The judge tells a story.
“Here’s a man who got drunk, got into a quarrel with his wife, drives away and crashes his car into a ditch. His two passengers were injured. They were his kids.”
Admitting that the man was not a criminal but did something dumb, the judge was clear.
“I have to send him to jail. Unless you have some place for me to send him, for him to go.”
Over the years I heard these kinds of stories from Aboriginal and non-Ab corrections and Justice systems professionals. Jails and prisons are mostly filled with people who did dumb things — and once inside they’re hardened and turned into criminals.
When I first designed the “Centre of Excellence Dedicated to Indigenous Recovery” (CEDIR) it was to accept the challenge to look after ourselves that I heard from two judges.
The CEDIR project uses an eco-village setting for working with troubled people. The eco-village provides an environment for individuals and families who are involved with Corrections, Justice, and Child and Family services. The CEDIR village provides an environment where troubled people can work with expert practitioners of the healing arts to make changes to their lives.
The proposal originates with the Satekariwate Family of the League of the Five Nations. Over the past two years the CEDIR proposal was accepted at a Mohawk women’s meeting at Tyendinaga. Another Mohawk elder women’s meeting also accepted the proposal. The proposal was also backed by the Corrections and Justice community working in the Grand River valley.
A recovery and revitalization centre could be located on the Burtch Tract.
Here is the framework for the CEDIR project at Burtch:
- – creates an eco-village for individuals and families
- – provides an alternative to prison and jail
- – provides an alternative to breaking up families
- – ensures possession and use of a tract-of-land for the benefit of the People
- – provides an environment for healers to work with our People
- – creates a model for recovery and revitalization
- – harvest a fresh-water source for local use—with community members doing the work
The former Burtch corrections facility becomes a centre where 400 to 500 people work and live year-round.
People who go there have a choice to make — stay and be helped by your own People, or surrender yourself to the Settler’s jurisdiction by leaving.
The proposal seeks collaboration from the professional sectors that have long been faced with the terrible dilemma — turning our backs on our mothers, the young, and men and women in need of our help.
I have a detailed proposal, power-point presentation, and support for the project. My presentation outlines in detail worldwide thinking for eco-village, recovery, learning, and using Indigenous Knowledge. No reason to reinvent the wheel.
The ultimate win-win scenario.
Thohahoken Michael Doxtater works for the Satekariwate Family of the Mohawk People and is from Six Nations.