Wellness centre gets credit as Cambay crime drops

“I just wish that this could be replicated throughout Nunavut”

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

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A well-run wellness centre is starting to have an impact on the crime rate in Cambridge Bay.

“The number of charges on the Cambridge Bay docket has dropped from 200 almost a year ago to less than 75 in the most recent circuit,” said resident legal aid lawyer Peter Harte, who represents most clients in Cambridge Bay, in a press release.

There are only 12 trials for the circuit court scheduled in the community next month.

“We are lucky to have such an excellent community resource here,” Harte said. “The work of wellness, combined with the efforts of the RCMP to encourage people to resolve underlying problems, has had a real impact. Cambridge Bay is healing.”

A Nunavut court judge confirmed Harte’s view that wellness is making the difference.

In a makeshift Cambridge Bay courtroom on Jan. 11 Justice Earle Johnson had this to say about wellness in the community:

“The Wellness Centre here works better than any other community I have seen in Nunavut. I just wish that the Wellness Centre and the programs that they run could be replicated throughout Nunavut. I think it would go a long way in trying to deal with the alcohol problems that I see coming up in court.

“There is no treatment centre in Nunavut and I am still hopeful that somewhere on the radar screen of the Government of Nunavut they are going to start focusing on this problem but, so far, this is the community that I think has made the greatest progress. Certainly I have seen a number of really positive results coming out of the program here.”

Johnson also acknowledged Harte’s role in helping clients “head in a different direction and stop this kind of thing from happening.”

The Cambridge Bay Wellness Centre, run by Alice Isnor, operates with funding from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and other outside sources. The hamlet council has made the wellness centre a community priority.
For the past year, people who have committed crimes have frequently been directed to one of the centre’s many treatment programs. This has often been a mitigating factor in sentencing.

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