Ceremony held to celebrate beginning of corrections facility

Band Chief Clarence Louie and Attorney General Suzanne Anton unveil the plan for the facility on Friday, May 23, 2014.

OLIVER - Ground was officially broken today by justice, city and Band officials to launch construction of the Okanagan Correctional Centre.

The ceremony began with members of the Osoyoos Indian Band riding in on horses, drumming and singing traditional songs.

“Thank you for honouring our land,” said Bob Etienne, a Band member who performed a smudging ceremony, traditionally used to take away negative energy. The $192.2 million prison will be built on Osoyoos Band land.

He blessed the people who will work on the facility and those who will be inside once construction is completed in 2016.

Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton said the project will create 1,000 jobs, and 240 corrections jobs will be available once the facility is open.

She said the facility will help keep the community safe and what corrections officers want is to help rehabilitate and make sure offenders don’t come back.

The facility will have 11 units and 179 cells.

Osoyoos Band Chief Clarence Louie said the facility is not just a good business deal but a way to help the Band community who are “overrepresented” in the prison system.

The new facility will take a load off neighbouring corrections centres and help provide higher quality services to inmates, including education and rehab programs.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Meaghan Archer at marcher@infotelnews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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