Nov 18

Drunk driver who killed 4 in Sask. sent to healing lodge; sparks community concern

The decision to move a drunk driver who killed a family of four, from a jail cell to a healing lodge has left many people shocked and looking for more justice.

Catherine McKay was sentenced to ten years in prison for killing the Van de Vorst family just north of Saskatoon in January 2016 while driving drunk. She spent a month in jail before being moved to the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Maple Creek, Sask.

“I feel for the family. They’ve gone through four deaths, and then they get this kind of news, they’re devastated. We feel sorry that they have to go through this,” Andrew Murie, Mothers Against Drunk Driving CEO, said.

“A lot of times with impaired driving, because they’re not seen in the system as violent offenders, routinely they’re out in communities after one sixth of their sentence, and so people get really frustrated with this,” he said.

WATCH: What is a healing lodge?

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    Healing lodges are correctional institutions that use aboriginal values and traditions to help offenders. According to the Correctional Service of Canada’s website, each unit contains a bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette and living room.

    “It seems a bit ridiculous to harm so many people and just go to a lodge,” Tasha Hodzic said.

    As Saskatchewan struggles to fix its drinking and driving culture, there’s concern that sending McKay to a healing lodge isn’t enough of a deterrent for future offenders or enough justice for the Van de Vorst family.

    “It’s disappointing. I don’t think that sends a good message to people who are considering taking those actions and drinking and driving. It doesn’t deter people at all,” Hodzic said.

    However, many people also pointed out the need to rehabilitate offenders.

    “Hopefully she’ll be suffering for what she’s done, so perhaps the benefit of going to a healing lodge rather than spending that length of time in prison would have more benefit in the end,” Anne Reid said.

    “At times I guess we would want more vengeance for things that happen that are evil, unfortunately it’s not going to make things any better,” Gordon Blackmore said.

    “I don’t think we want to be a society where we feel we should just put people in prison to punish them and have them try to bring back those lives, because it’s not just going to happen,” he said.

    “It’s unfortunate, but the deterrent is the likelihood of getting caught. So we need to do a better job in Canada on that, but there should be long sentences and there should be communication with the victims of crime,” Murie said.