Everyone in Saskatchewan has heard about the Van de Vorst family, and unfortunately it’s because of the most tragic circumstances. The family of four was driving home in January 2016 when a drunk driver, Catherine McKay, ran a stop sign and crashed right into them. All four family members died, including two young children, and McKay went on to plead guilty to impaired driving in Saskatchewan.
That guilty plea resulted in McKay receiving ten years in jail. When you compare that sentence to Marco Muzzo’s sentence for killing a family of four in Ontario, it seemed like a fair sentence for the crime of impaired driving in Saskatchewan. But unlike Muzzo, McKay isn’t going to be serving that time.
One month into her ten year sentence, McKay has been transferred to a healing lodge for Indigenous women. According to McKay’s lawyer a healing lodge is still a prison, but it focuses on rehabilitation and restorative justice programs so the person convicted of the crime can be reintegrated into society.
There are nine healing lodges in Canada, with three in Saskatchewan alone. Some are minimum security while others keep inmates in high security areas. While there the inmate takes part in cultural ceremonies that indigenous leaders feel will help them atone for their crime.
Understandably the family of the Van de Vorst family is outraged by the transfer out of prison, and they think it sends the wrong message to other potential drunk drivers. Especially in a time when impaired driving in Saskatchewan is at a high and they’ve currently enforced stricter drunk driving laws, the Van de Vorst family doesn’t want anyone to think that you can drink, drive, and kill someone, only to be able to enjoy an easier penalty than other offenders in Canada.
It’s clear that no two impaired driving cases are alike, but it’s understandable that Saskatchewan residents are having a hard time understanding that this is justice for killing a family of four.