When David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, found out the Dauphin Correctional Centre will close down in May, he was quite surprised it would happen without any consultations.
Chartrand says most people are looking at the jail closure as a pure money issue, but not a lot of talk is looking at the fact that in order for someone in jail to change, they need family and community support, which is going to get a lot harder.
“What they’re doing is actually taking individuals to be greater distances from their families’ support and pack them up into Headingly or Brandon. So they’re really going to pack up those institutions if they’re not already packed as is. But if they could challenge for the working poor and individuals, especially indigenous people who struggle day-by-day. But to find themselves hardly being able to get to Dauphin, which is sometimes a 1900 mile drive, or get somebody to drive them, or hire a vehicle to try and go see their loved one or family member. Now imagine they have to go to Winnipeg or Brandon and how are they going to get there when they can hardly get to Dauphin in the first place?”
Chartrand and Grand Chief Jerry Daniels met about the jail and feel the provincial governments should have met with them because they feel there could have been a way for them to help keep the jail open.
Chartrand says the Metis and First Nations governments in the province should have been given the option to buy the jail.
“They could say, look if we transfer the jail to the Metis and First Nation governments, given that we’re the clear majority in there anyways. So, if we give it to you, is there a possibility you guys can find the resources to manage the jail yourselves? I think that’s an opportunity we should explore, we should look at that. But again, this decision is made, I did make a call to Minister Cullen, that did not happen, he did not return my call. But I did send him a letter, myself and Grand Chief Daniels, stating we’d like to have a discussion on this before it’s finalized. Give us an opportunity to sit down and see what options are available.”
Chartrand thinks Cullen reacted too quick and urges him to look at this one more time.