'There's a break somewhere': Van De Vorst family angered after drunk driver transferred to healing lodge

By Chris Vandenbreekel/CKOM News Staff
February 24, 2017 - 6:44am

The woman who pleaded guilty to killing the Van De Vorst family while driving drunk is no longer behind bars.

Lou Van De Vorst told 650 CKOM Thursday that Catherine McKay was moved from prison to a healing lodge just one month after beginning her 10-year sentence.

"We're hurt, we're angry, we're upset," he said. "In the justice system — I don't know if you can call it the justice system — the victim sort of gets lost."

McKay pleaded guilty in June 2016 to four counts of impaired driving causing death.

Van De Vorst's son Jordan, daughter-in-law Chanda and grandchildren, two-year-old Miguire and five-year-old Kamryn, were killed in the crash at Highway 11 and Wanuskewin Road on Jan. 3, 2016.

Van De Vorst said he and his wife were informed of the move by victim services about a month after the sentencing hearing.

He said they knew McKay would eventually be transferred to the lodge, but figured she would spend at least three years in the penitentiary first.

"Putting her into the healing lodge so soon... to me the punishment doesn't fit the crime," he said. "Something's not right there, there's a break somewhere."

At a time when the province is trying to curb drinking and driving in Saskatchewan, Van De Vorst also worries the quick transition to the healing lodge sends the wrong message.

"There has to be consequence enough to make people think twice about what their attitude is towards driving," he said.

Van De Vorst said he also learned McKay was receiving supervised day passes outside the lodge, though the reason for the passes is unclear.

He said he hoped she would take advantage of every program the lodge offered to help better herself and prepare her for a return to society.

"I hope there's some good that comes out of this."

TRANSFERS TO HEALING LODGES

Correctional Services Canada (CSC) wouldn't confirm the movement of any prisoners, but did outline the general circumstances for such a move.

It said CSC makes placement determinations based on the risk posed by an offender, their personal needs and potential for re-integration into society. Factors such as employment, marital status, substance abuse, emotional stability and attitude are also considered.

CSC Regional Communications Administrator Joan Dunajski, speaking in general terms, said indigenous inmates can be transferred to a healing lodge to provide culture-specific correctional services.

"Based on a healing and holistic approach, indigenous programs target offenders’ needs in the context of Indigenous history, culture, and spirituality, while at the same time addressing the factors related to criminal behaviour," she wrote to 650 CKOM.

On its website, CSC said non-indigenous prisoners can also live in at a healing lodge, but must follow indigenous programming and spirituality.

 

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