Innovative new women’s correctional unit opens in Fort Smith

News Releases

Fort Smith — August 30, 2019

The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to providing culturally appropriate, responsive and efficient corrections services in partnership with our communities. Today, the Minister of Justice, Louis Sebert, and the Minister of Infrastructure, Wally Schumann, celebrated the opening of the new corrections unit for women with the people of Fort Smith.


This new unit was designed with the current and future needs of female offenders in mind and will support culturally appropriate programs and activities.


Along with new program areas, spiritual and cultural buildings, this new unit will provide women with access to family support to aid them in the healing process and to improve their reintegration back into their community. These safe and secure areas will allow necessary holistic work through education, training, counselling and culturally appropriate spiritual support. This new unit also includes a space for the co-location of infants with incarcerated mothers.


Existing wood pellet boilers, administration, health and food services have also been improved and will be shared between the male and female units.


The Government of the Northwest Territories continues to invest in communities and residents with economic opportunities. Through the successful contract bidder, C.A.B. construction, the community has seen benefits from the construction of this unit, with the employment of 95 local residents during the construction phase.


Until all safety and training sessions are complete, inmates will continue to be housed in the current building. This new unit is expected to be ready for occupancy in mid-October 2019.




“Along with modernizing our legislative framework, this modernization of Fort Smith Correctional Complex female unit ensures women have better access to northern developed, and northern specific programming. The opportunity to stay closer to their family supports is invaluable in their healing process.”
-Louis Sebert, Minister of Justice


“Investing in modernized infrastructure ensures that safe and reliable facilities are available to support the delivery of government programs. The construction of this facility involved the work of Fort Smith residents and local businesses, demonstrating GNWT’s commitment to working closely with local communities on infrastructure projects.”
-Wally Schumann, Minister of Infrastructure


Quick facts:


  • The current women’s facility is comprised of two separate buildings originally built in 1960.  In 1991 the buildings were repurposed for a Corrections facility. The buildings have outlived their service life and must be replaced.
  • This new facility will include 23 beds for adult females with opportunities for future expansion.
  • The design build contract for $23.6 M was awarded to C.A.B. construction of Fort Smith. The unit was designed to meet the technical requirements of a corrections facility and the northern environment.
  • The ground breaking ceremony was held on March 23, 2017. There were some delays with the build due to specific requirements for corrections security, and other common northern construction issues.
  • By having female inmates remain in the north they are able to be close to their family supports as well as limiting connections with southern inmates where gangs, drugs and organized crime are prevalent.
  • This new facility will ensure that the same level of service is provided to both female and male inmates.


For More information, contact:

Sue Glowach
Senior Communications Advisor

Department of Justice
Government of the Northwest Territories

Ph: (867) 767-9256 ext. 82082