1973: Judge Ian Dubienski noted that intellectually disabled offenders had been “slipping through the cracks of not only the justice system, but of other social service systems, which, in isolation, were unable to address the individual’s needs.(1)
1976: A dedicated group of individuals identified the need to a) address these issues within their professional systems and b) develop an alternative to correctional or institutional settings for developmentally disabled adults who were in conflict with the criminal justice system. These individuals, from a variety of government and community-based agencies, convened and, thus, started the development of appropriate services.
1983: Opportunities For Independence, Inc. was incorporated. An interim residence was established in a three-bedroom apartment in central Winnipeg which served as the initial residential facility and program base. Since then, OFI has expanded into multiple residential and programming facilities.
Today, OFI is an established non-profit, charitable organization with over 100 full-time, part-time and casual employees. Governed by concerned professionals who sit as members on our Board of Directors and Clinical Steering Committee, OFI continues to expand and enhance the services available. The result is a wide range of residential, alternative vocational programming, living skills training, and therapeutic programs for intellectually disabled adults who engage in high risk behaviors. In addition to the clinical and support services available to participants, OFI provides staff training, program development, and professional consultation in a variety of areas related to the community-based treatment programs.
(1) (Dubienski, I.V. “Resources of the Criminal Justice Process Required by the Police, The Crown, and the Court in Dealing With the Mentally Retarded Offender”, 5 Manitoba Law Journal 441 (1973)).