Updated correctional facility for women to be built in Fort Smith

photo courtesy of GNWT Department of Justice
Ground was broken on March 23 for construction of the new Women’s Unit at the Fort Smith Correctional Complex. Participating in the event were, left to right, Chief Frieda Martselos of Salt River First Nation; Agnes Cheezie, a councillor with Smith’s Landing First Nation; Justice Minister and Thebacha MLA Louis Sebert; Craig Browne, president of CAB Construction; and Fort Smith Mayor Lynn Buckley-Napier.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place on March 23 for a new correctional facility in the South Slave.

That will be a new Women’s Unit at the Fort Smith Correctional Complex.

Justice Minister and Thebacha MLA Louis Sebert, community leaders and members of the public attended the ceremony.

The new building will replace the current women’s correctional facility, which is a building constructed in the 1960s and retrofitted in 1990 to be used as a corrections structure.

The new facility will be able to accommodate 23 adult inmates and has the potential for future expansion.

“Women inmates have a long history of support in the Fort Smith community,” stated Sebert in a news release. “This new facility will allow us to help women heal and be ready to reintegrate into our communities assisted by our experienced staff and elders working in a modern corrections facility.”

Sebert also noted the GNWT wants to keep women near their family supports wherever possible with appropriate cultural and spiritual support, education and training.

The new modern correctional facility will emphasize open cultural and educational areas to help support inmate rehabilitation and healing.

A $23.6-million design-build contract for the facility was awarded to CAB Construction of Fort Smith.

The project management for the project is being provided by the Department of Public Works and Services.

According to the GNWT news release, the new building will be energy efficient and meet or exceed all safety requirements for inmates, staff and the community. 

With the arrival of a new construction season, residents of Fort Smith will see increased activity on the site from now until the new structure is ready by mid-2019.

Locating the new building next to the men’s correctional facility allows economies of scale through the sharing of resources, such as the heating plant, administration areas, food services and health professionals.

–Paul Bickford