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Federal offenders find redemption at B.C.'s Aghelh Nebun Camp

06/25/2015 11:44 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 05:59 EDT
A wilderness camp east of Prince George, B.C., is offering incarcerated men on conditional release a way to connect with their spiritual, cultural and emotional side as they serve out their sentences.

Aghelh Nebun Camp allows up to 19 men to live there under supervision of Correctional Service Canada. The program incorporates traditional First Nation culture, and allows residents to take part in talking circles and drum groups as well as everyday work and recreational activities.

Arthur Linklater, who is serving the remainder of a nine-year sentence at Aghelh Nebun, recently took part in a fast, where he says he and three other men lived alone in the forest without food or water for four days.

Linklater, 41, says the experience allowed him to "connect with the Creator, ask for forgiveness and do some soul searching.

"Now that I've picked up another nine years, I've started healing with why I came to jail, the root of my problem, which was sexual abuse, which caused me to be the way I was, and angry, and stuff like that," he told Daybreak North.

"So now that I've dealt with that, I'm able to comprehend, I guess you can say, and sort of adjust and work on myself and now I can acknowledge the fact that what happened to me back then will never happen again."

Reintegration the goal

Linklater says sexual abuse, family neglect and having to live in foster care led him to abuse drugs and alcohol. After doing "some bad things," he was imprisoned for 11 years. Five years after he was released, he was incarcerated again and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

David Trebanier, the executive director of the Activator Society, helps manage the camp. He says the experience helps men like Linklater reintegrate into society while allowing them to develop culturally, spiritually and emotionally.

"Whether they do a portion of their sentence in a jail and a portion in the community, they're making the choice to come here," he said.

"They've worked to get here through the system, and they've made this choice to personally move themselves forward with their own life. It's a big step and a big commitment — they just didn't get up one day and decide to do it."

Listen to the story: Aghelh Nebun Camp Part 1 and Aghelh Nebun Camp Part 2

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