Former inmate finds new path with Indigenous-run reintegration program
- | July 12, 2020
Terrence Naistus has spent 23 years of his life behind bars. And now Naistus is finding new pathways to reintegrate back into the community.
“I came across the Coming Home to Stay reintegration program while I was in a federal halfway house in Regina, Saskatchewan,” said Naistus.
The Coming Home to Stay adult reintegration program is managed by Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services (RT/SIS). It offers an Indigenous-run alternative to the reintegration program run by Corrections Services Canada.
“The RT/SIS program focuses on reintegration and Corrections Services Canada focuses on punishment/ policing,” said Naistus.
“I like (Coming Home to Stay) because it is run by Aboriginal people whom I can relate to,” he said. The program offers help with employment, accommodation and social skills.
“This program has helped me reconnect with my wife and family,” he said.
Naistus said he has faced employment barriers, which stem from stereotypes, which makes starting over difficult
“As for this program, it really helped me a lot and they also provided a place for me to stay for a while until I got onto my feet,” said Naistus.
Many Indigenous people get referred to non-Indigenous programming, but the alternatives should be supported, said Aaron Desjarlais, Coming Home to Stay’s program coordinator.
“Indigenous professionals can help Indigenous people when they have access to funding,” he said.
Coming Home to Stay receives support from Public Safety Canada under the Indigenous Corrections Initiative. Its key focus areas are culture, mental health, addictions, employment, education, sustainable housing and family reunification.
According to Desjarlais, success relies on creating stability and routine in peoples’ lives. “RT/SIS integrated services is a key part of this when the client comes into the program,” he said.
“Also, I think one of the important things to mention in that portion of the program is the development of cultural self-identity,” said Desjarlais.
“I think that’s the most important piece for these guys who are integrating to the community — a lot of them don’t necessarily know who they are.”