Call to Action # 30: Actions and Commitments

Govt. Actions to Reduce Overrepresentation


October 11, 2022


Addressing the overrepresentation of Red River Métis people in the justice system in Manitoba

Department fo Justice: Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the National Homeland of the Red River Métis

Advancing reconciliation requires supporting culturally appropriate, Indigenous-led and community-based justice services, and building policies informed by the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples. These are key to achieving systemic change in our justice system.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Kevin Lamoureux, Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Member of Parliament for Winnipeg North, and Julyda Lagimodiere, Minister of Justice for the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), announced significant investments to help address the overrepresentation of Red River Métis in the justice system in Manitoba.

The MMF’s Métis Justice Institute develops and maintains a wide range of justice services and programs to meet the needs and expectations of the Red River Métis. Through these programs and services, the Métis Justice Institute seeks to:

  • reduce the number of Red River Métis people involved in the criminal justice system
  • prevent and reduce crime, as well as enhance the safety and well-being of Red River Métis individuals and community
  • strengthen Red River Métis families and the community to promote a strong Nation
  • support the grassroots where justice measures are developed and delivered by and for the Red River Métis community, and
  • ensure that justice measures are culturally appropriate, relevant and incorporate Red River Métis values, traditions and culture

Justice Canada is providing over $1.68 million over 5 years through the Indigenous Justice Program to MMF to support the continued delivery of community-based justice programs and their work to address the overrepresentation of Red River Métis people in the justice system. This investment will support the following programs and initiatives:

  • Métis Community Justice Program: $469,227 over five years
  • Thompson Community Justice Program: $483,377 over five years
  • Métis Mediation Services: $230,000 over three years to support this new program
  • “Métis Identity within the Justice System”: $255,645 over two years to support this project, which aims to develop Red River Métis distinctions-based education and training resources for justice professionals and address systemic racism against Red River Métis people in the justice system
  • Red River Métis Justice Strategy: $250,000 over three years to support the development of a strategy that will inform the development of an overall Indigenous Justice Strategy aimed at addressing systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the Canadian justice system

Addressing the systemic factors that contribute to the overrepresentation of Indigenous people, as well as systemic racism in the justice system is part of the Government of Canada’s commitments outlined in the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People. Today’s announcement also supports Canada’s efforts to advance reconciliation in Canada and respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action.

Additional multimedia

Quotes

“Red River Métis led, culturally-appropriate programs and services can play a vital role in reducing the overrepresentation of our Citizens in the justice system and addressing systemic racism. The MMF, the National Government of the Red River Métis, has a demonstrated track record of success when we take the lead in creating and implementing programming. Our culture requires us to take a holistic approach to justice that considers and addresses the impacts on family and community. Today’s announcement will help us advance this important work.”


September 28, 2022


AB

Alberta Provincial Court releases Indigenous Justice Strategy

The Indigenous Justice Strategy aims to ensure Alberta judges and staff have a clear understanding of Indigenous history, heritage and laws, as well as establishing Indigenous cultural practices in court. But as Morgan Black explains, some critics say it’s a band-aid solution to a systemic issue.

Global News (Canadian Press): Alberta’s provincial court has announced a plan outlining ways it can better serve Indigenous people. The Indigenous Justice Strategy announced Wednesday by Chief Judge Derek Redman follows two years of discussions with First Nations and Métis leaders, as well as legal groups.

“The one thing that we did not want was another report,” Redman said. “What we wanted was an action document.”

It includes 20 measures such as ensuring judges and staff have a comprehensive understanding of Indigenous history, heritage and laws, as well as establishing Indigenous cultural practices in courthouses and courtrooms where appropriate.

READ MORE: ‘Education is the key’: Why reconciliation needs to start with students

The strategy incorporates some steps the court had already been taking, Redman said. He said the strategy is meant to address the lack of access Indigenous people have to the courts, the lack of confidence they have in the justice system, the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in pre- and post-trial custody and the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care.

It also aims to address several calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, such as:

  • ensuring lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training and
  • providing more support for Indigenous programming in halfway houses, parole services and relevant services to inmates.

Meetings are to be held annually between court leadership, leaders of Treaties 6, 7 and 8, and leaders of the Metis Nation of Alberta and Metis settlements to maintain relationships and address community needs.

Redman said this was the strategy’s most important measure. “I think it begins with relationships and learning,” he said. Redman’s advisers on the strategy included three Indigenous judges who emphasized the importance of education. “The court needs to be educated about the needs, the history, the culture of Indigenous persons,” he said.

“We do a lot of that, but we are challenging ourselves to do it in a more thoughtful, comprehensive way.”

Marlene Orr, chief executive officer of Native Counselling Services of Alberta, said the work felt deeply meaningful. “There’s a recognition in this strategy that Indigenous people have had their own traditional justice systems and that that may look very different from what we see in the courts,” she said. “It looks exciting.”

Richard Mirasty is an Indigenous criminal defence lawyer in Edmonton. He feels the plan — though a noble endeavour — won’t have much of an impact on a larger problem that he sees in his practice every day. “It’s a band-aid solution on a much larger issue,” he said, adding there are systemic issues that need to be addressed before people even get to the courtroom.

“It’s the whole issue of Indigenous peoples being marginalized. Again, it’s no accident that upwards of 90 per cent of people on any given day in a courtroom in Edmonton are Indigenous people. Why is that? That’s what needs to be resolved.”

The announcement comes two days before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Redman, who was appointed as Chief Judge in 2020, is from Lethbridge, Alta., and has been practising law since the early ’80s.

The Calgary Indigenous Court was established in 2019, encompassing many of the steps included in the Indigenous Justice Strategy. The provincial court in Edmonton has been operating its Indigenous courtroom since the spring but will hold an official ceremony on Friday morning.


January 4, 2023


BC

B.C. top court broadens sentencing law aimed at reducing Indigenous incarceration rates

British Columbia’s top court has broadened the sweep of a sentencing law meant to reduce incarceration rates among Indigenous peoples, ruling that Indigenous-specific sentencing can be applied even to offenders who have become disconnected from Indigenous communities and are only minimally aware of their heritage.

“Disconnection is one of the very harms associated with Canada’s colonial history and assimilationist polices,” Justice Len Marchand, the first Indigenous member of the B.C. Court of Appeal, wrote this week in a 3-0 ruling.

The decision reduces a five-year prison sentence to four in a case involving an unprovoked, near-fatal stabbing. It is not the first appellate ruling to mention disconnection. Ontario’s top court has taken a similar position, but Alberta’s is on the other side, cautioning against expanding sentencing principles “almost to a level of pure ethnicity.” The issue has not been debated at the Supreme Court of Canada, but the disparity in rulings means the nation’s highest court would have a compelling reason to take up the matter in the event of a future appeal.

The B.C. ruling applies directly only in that province, but will be read by judges across the country and could prove to be influential.

The offender, David Kehoe, is a Métis man who prosecutors argued had not been aware until recently of his Indigenous background. He was convicted of aggravated assault after he used a kitchen knife to stab a man who had played loud music in the parking lot of an apartment building where Mr. Kehoe lived.

Mr. Kehoe, who was 30 at the time of the 2018 stabbing, had a record of 33 prior offences as a youth and as an adult. (The victim suffered a lacerated liver and punctured lung, and received life-saving surgery. He did not submit a victim-impact statement at Mr. Kehoe’s sentencing hearing.)

Under federal sentencing law, judges must pay particular attention to the circumstances of Indigenous offenders. The Supreme Court interpreted that law in a case called Gladue (which involved a fatal stabbing) to mean that the history of colonization has harmed Indigenous peoples, and that they are therefore entitled to special efforts to reduce their overrepresentation in the penal system. Social workers and others write “Gladue reports” for judges at sentencing time to detail Indigenous-related background factors.

Murray Sinclair, who chaired Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said the decision on Mr. Kehoe’s case is an important one. “You’ve got an appellate court basically reminding trial judges to stop taking such a slack-ass attitude toward Gladue. Because that’s been the trend in the last several years,” he said.

Indigenous incarceration rates continue to rise. As of Christmas Day, 34 per cent of federal male prisoners were Indigenous, and among female prisoners the rate was 48 per cent, according to the Office of the Correctional Investigator. Indigenous peoples account for a little over 5 per cent of the country’s population. In 1997, they made up 3 per cent of the population and 12 per cent of men in federal prison.

In Mr. Kehoe’s case, the Gladue report noted addiction in his immediate family, homelessness as a teenager, abandonment by his mother and stepfather, the stabbing death of his brother and normalization in his family of violence and neglect.

B.C. prosecutor Grant Lindsey noted in his arguments that Mr. Kehoe’s parents and grandparents had not gone to residential schools. His criminality was related in part to growing up with a non-Indigenous stepfather who used and trafficked drugs, Mr. Lindsey said. Justice Alan Ross of the B.C. Supreme Court accepted that there was little nexus between Mr. Kehoe’s Indigenous background and his crime, and sentenced him to five years in prison.

But the B.C. Court of Appeal said Justice Ross and the prosecutor misunderstood the harm done by Canadian policies. Justice Marchand, citing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, wrote that Canada deliberately sought to eliminate Indigenous communities as distinct peoples. The real issue, he said, was the role that Mr. Kehoe’s disconnection played in his coming before the court.

Justice Marchand, who was appointed by the Trudeau government to the appeal court in 2021, added it was not “simply a coincidence” that Mr. Kehoe’s Métis mother had fallen into an unstable, dysfunctional environment. He cited the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls to make that point.

He wrote that he agrees with Justice Ross that an unrehabilitated Mr. Kehoe presents a danger to society, but he added that there are signs Mr. Kehoe is rehabilitating himself.

Jonathan Rudin, special projects director at Aboriginal Legal Services, a Toronto legal clinic, said Justice Marchand writes sensitively and intelligently on Gladue-related issues, and did so as a lower-court judge as well.

“He said on the facts of this case, you need to look at what the dislocation of the Métis community means, even though it may be difficult for some people to articulate it. How do you articulate what you don’t know?”

The B.C. decision also highlights how federal sentencing law is being pulled in two directions in another sense. Quebec’s top court, for instance, has stressed the need for tough sentences to deter and denounce crimes committed by Indigenous men against Indigenous women.


April 8, 2021


MB

Budget 2021: Investments in Restorative Justice

Government of Manitoba: Continue $1.2 million in restorative justice initiatives for First Nations and Metis communities. 


September 18, 2017


YT

Commitment to reduce the over- representation of Indigenous people

Highlighted the importance of continuing to work together with Yukon First Nations and partners health, education and housing to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous people in justice system and build safer, healthier, stronger communities.


September 19, 2019


ON

Customizing case management plans

Better supporting rehabilitation and reintegration through individualized assessments completed for every admission. As part of an evidence-based approach to incarceration, case management plans will be tailored to address the unique needs of inmates to guide their rehabilitation. Enhanced culturally-responsive programming will be implemented to meet the diverse and unique needs of Indigenous individuals and other over-represented groups to achieve successful reintegration.


January 1, 2017


ON

Educational workshops for lawyers

Under the auspices of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association (CLA), a series of educational workshops (Jan-June 2017) organized by Shaunna Kelly, Hicks Adams LLP aims to demystify aboriginal justice issues to boost awareness and understanding of Gladue Court.


November 2, 2018


BC

Eleventh Justice Summit: Indigenous II

 Planned in partnership with representatives from the B.C. Aboriginal Justice Council and the Métis Nation British Columbia, the event invited Indigenous leaders and community experts, as well as justice and public safety leaders, to discuss Indigenous peoples’ experiences with B.C.’s justice system and how the system can be improved. Participants discussed the importance of increasing the use of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the Gladue case, supporting community-led justice solutions and building the capacity of Indigenous communities in ways that support self-determination. After the 11th summit, three recommendations were identified that reflect the most widely supported ideas that arose during the two days of dialogue. These recommendations offer a framework for continued discussion on how to reshape the justice system in ways that work for Indigenous peoples.


January 13, 2020


BC

First Indigenous Court in New Westminster

The province’s first Indigenous court was established in New Westminster in 2006, with the seventh iteration scheduled to begin sitting monthly at the Williams Lake courthouse in May. An Indigenous court is a sentencing court — it does not conduct trials, but it provides an Indigenous perspective, based on a holistic and restorative approach, to sentencing individuals who have acknowledged responsibility for their criminal offences. Local Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers who have completed a program of orientation give advice on a healing plan, which may then be incorporated as part of a fit sentence for the individual who has pleaded guilty. Courts are located at New Westminster, Duncan, Kamloops, North Vancouver, Merritt and Prince George.


March 6, 2020


BC

First Nations Justice Strategy

The BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC) and the Province endorsed and signed a new First Nations Justice Strategy. The BCFNJC’s action is supported by resolutions from the BC Assembly of First Nations, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit. The First Nations Justice Strategy sets a path for the partners involved in the strategy and the criminal justice system to work together to:

  • reduce the number of First Nations people who become involved with the criminal justice system;
  • improve the experience of those who do;
  • increase the number of First Nations people working within the justice system; and
  • support First Nations to restore their Indigenous justice systems and structures.

Strategy highlights include:

  • a two-path approach that transforms the existing criminal justice system and builds the path toward restoring First Nations laws and justice systems;
  • establishing a network of 15 regional First Nations Justice Centres around the province;
  • developing a systemic approach to implementing the Gladue decision;
  • establishing a presumption of diversion to divert First Nations people from the court system, wherever possible;
  • improving cultural competency in the justice system;
  • establishing roles for Elders and Knowledge Keepers within the justice system; and
  • increasing community justice programming in each First Nations community.

April 26, 2018


ON

Funding for new Community Justice Centres

Community Justice Centres move justice out of the traditional courtroom and into a community setting to help connect individuals with holistic supports that address the root causes of crime. They are justice hubs that bring together services – for example justice, health, Indigenous, mental health and addictions, housing, and social services – to respond to the unique needs of the communities they serve.

The first three will be in Kenora, London and Toronto with Timmins and Sioux Lookout as other possibilities in the future.

Funding over three years:

  • 2017/18: $5.6M
  • 2019/20: $4.6M
  • 2020/21: $3.7M

July 18, 2017


AB

Funding for restorative justice initiatives

$360K support for restorative justice initiatives in communities across the province focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community.


August 29, 2019


YT

Gladue Report Writing Pilot Project

The Council of Yukon First Nations has begun to administer the Gladue Report Writing Pilot Project, taking over from the Yukon Legal Services Society, a non-profit organization also known as Legal Aid. The transfer took place August 1, officially putting the project into the hands of Yukon First Nations.


March 6, 2019


YT

Gladue Reports writing project update

Representatives from the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) and the Yukon Legal Services Society say it’s still too early to tell what difference the pilot program is making, but it’s provided a structured way to get necessary information before Yukon courts. Roster of 3 writers trained, 37 reports written for Indigenous offenders since pilot launch


September 23, 2022


BC

Govt. of BC funds pilot program to address structural factors contributing to Indigenous overrepresentation in the criminal justice system

NationTalk: tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory, BC: Recommendations from an independent investigation into ‘repeat offenders’ were announced today by the Province of BC. Among these was a recommendation for the Province to fund the development of a pilot project, designed and led by the BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC) to address the structural factors that contribute to overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. While BCFNJC remains concerned that the investigation was conducted without disaggregated race-based data, we are pleased with the Province’s swift action in accepting this recommendation.

The pilot will be developed and, if fully funded, led by the BCFNJC Indigenous Justice Centre (IJC) in Prince George, BC which houses a diverse team committed to providing wrap-around legal services to the city and surrounding communities. Indigenous-led initiatives, rooted in Indigenous culture and laws, are the only way to build strong solutions. The BC First Nations Justice Strategy and the IJCs have the potential to be that solution, promoting diversion and offering comprehensive services to the most vulnerable Indigenous people in BC.

“We welcome the Province’s announcement as a step in the right direction” said BCFNJC Chair, Doug White. “Too often the underlying factors driving contact with the criminal justice system go ignored. Funding dedicated to better understanding these factors is limited, and the existing culturally appropriate supports and programs are insufficient. With this pilot, the BCFNJC intends to focus on harm reduction, education, and providing the necessary supports that promote diversion and healing for our people and communities.”

Ensuring that individuals can develop and maintain a personal connection at IJCs across British Columbia, but especially in Prince George, is important for ensuring that the cycle of harm is no longer repeated and that individuals can grow and heal to find safety and security in a good way.

-30 –

About the BCFNJC:
The BC First Nations Justice Council has been entrusted with the mandate to transform the justice system and create better outcomes for Indigenous people through implementation of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy.

The Strategy, signed March 06, 2020, was jointly developed by the BC First Nations Justice Council, BC First Nations communities and the Province of British Columbia. It includes 43 actions along two paths which involve the reformation of the current system as well as the restoration of First Nations’ legal traditions and structures.

Media Contact:
BC First Nations Justice Council
Marissa Baecker
Director of Communication and Engagement
Main: 778-940-1520
Direct: 778-738-3967
Cell: 250-470-7779
marissa@bcfnjc.com


October 16, 2017


Fed. Govt.

Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative (ICCI)

CISION – $10M over 5 years for Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative (ICCI) to help previously incarcerated Indigenous Peoples heal, rehabilitate and find good jobs through community-based and culturally relevant projects, with a focus on alternatives to incarceration and on reintegration supports. Eligible projects could include counselling, treatment for addictions, mental health treatment, job training, literacy, and skills development.


June 18, 2021


MB

Indigenous Elders Advisory Council

The Manitoba government has established an Indigenous Elders Advisory Council to provide guidance in addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system, Justice Minister Cameron Friesen announced today. The eight-member Indigenous Elders Advisory Council, chaired by Manitoba Justice, meets on a monthly basis and is guided by a Terms of Reference with a mandate that seeks to guide and enhance the work of the department with the Indigenous community through meaningful, respectful involvement and innovative solutions.


March 6, 2019


MB

Indigenous Justice program

$689,160 over 3 years through Indigenous Justice Program

Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) met to discuss the SCO’s First Nations Justice Strategy Program and justice priorities in their communities. SCO’s First Nations Justice Strategy Program uses a restorative justice model that reflects Indigenous legal traditions, promotes safer communities, and helps to reduce the rate of overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. SCO’s program also helps offenders take accountability for their actions, improves victim outcomes, and provides opportunities for healing and reintegration. Restorative justice programs take various forms, occur at all stages of the criminal justice system and enable Indigenous communities to utilize Indigenous legal traditions that contribute to a peaceful, safe Canadian society.


October 7, 2022


SK

Indigenous-Led Program To Help Women Transition Back Into Their Community

NationTalk: Today, the ministries of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety, Justice and Attorney General, and Health announced their partnership with the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) to collaboratively design and deliver the Īkwēskīcik  iskwēwak transition program in Saskatchewan.

“Community-based reintegration initiatives such as Īkwēskīcik  iskwēwak help ensure supports are in place for individuals transitioning out of the criminal justice system,” Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Christine Tell said. “This is a major milestone to overcoming barriers for female offenders as they find stability in their community and leave the criminal lifestyle.”

Īkwēskīcik  iskwēwak, which means “turning their life around” in Cree, is the first pilot program under the Pathways and Partnerships approach to reduce the number of women returning to custody. The program will provide up to 18 months of intensive support to female offenders who are reincarcerated on minor offences. Government will be providing $1.2 million to STC to design and deliver the program.

“This new program will help support women as they re-enter their home communities and explore new opportunities,” Justice and Attorney General Minister Bronwyn Eyre said. “It will create a transition that helps break the cycle of offending and build safer communities.”

Īkwēskīcik  iskwēwak is one of the first Indigenous-designed and delivered reintegration programs in the province with a strong focus on gendered and culturally responsive approaches to reintegration.

“Throughout history the matriarch has been the root of support for Indigenous families,” STC Chief Mark Arcand said. “Through the Īkwēskīcik  iskwēwak program we will be able to give back and support Indigenous women as they reintegrate. Those supports are critical when it comes to building a family structure, and in the process, help mold quality productive citizens for the community.”

“Addressing mental health and addictions issues means focusing on the well-being of the individual,” Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said. “This partnership will provide crucial health supports to help female offenders on their path to healing and reintegration in the community.”

Īkwēskīcik  iskwēwak will focus on healing and wellness, education, training and employment and promoting positive family relationships. Indigenous-led programming will support healthy lifestyles and reduce reoffending by helping former inmates rebuild relationships with their family and community.

-30-

For more information, contact:

Ariane Whiting
Corrections, Policing and Public Safety
Regina
Phone: 306-787-8621
Email: cpjumedia@gov.sk.ca

Shawn Churchill
Saskatoon Tribal Council
Saskatoon
Phone: 306-956-6137
Email: schurchill@sktc.sk.ca


March 5, 2021


QC

Investments Interpreter and other services in Indigenous languages

As part of the government’s response to the Viens Commission, the MMIWG Inquiry and the Report on Racism, $5.5M funding for the improvement and deployment of interpreter services in Indigenous languages

  • Development of agreements with Indigenous organizations for the training, accreditation and hiring of interpreters in Indigenous languages in the context of justice-related activities.

In response to the Viens Commission, the MMIWG Inquiry and ZERO TOLERANCE, the government of Québec announced an investment of $19.2M in the following areas:

  • Hiring additional Indigenous workers responsible for providing crime victims assistance services ($7.7 million):
    • These workers will be deployed in the CAVAC network and in Indigenous organizations that have established victim assistance services, or that wish to do so.
  • An increased deployment of courtworker services for Indigenous people ($6 million):
    • Adjustment of the compensation for courtworkers already employed ($1 million);
    • Increased funding for the operation of Indigenous organizations responsible for providing courtworker services ($2.5 million);
    • Hiring of new courtworkers from within the community for First Nations and Inuit ($2.5 million);
  • Improvement and deployment of interpreter services in Indigenous languages ($5.5  million):
    • Development of agreements with Indigenous organizations for the training, accreditation and hiring of interpreters in Indigenous languages in the context of justice-related activities.

December 16, 2020


Fed. Govt.

Mandate letter to Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada

The January 2021 mandate letter to the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada David Lametti states as a priority to “introduce legislation and make investments that take action to address systemic inequities in the criminal justice system, including to promote enhanced use of pre- and post-charge diversion and to better enable courts to impose sentences appropriate to the circumstances of individual cases.

First Reading of Bill Feb. 18, 2021 – Bill C-22 “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act”.  The Bill would repeal mandatory minimum penalties for all drug offences and some firearm offences, expand the use of conditional sentences, such as house arrest, for a variety of criminal offenses; and encourage police and prosecutors to keep drug possession cases out of the courts (Toronto Star, Feb. 19, 2021). Died in parliaManet


June 8, 2020


AB

Modernize the Police Act

CTV News (Calgary) – Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer we will expedite the government’s current work to modernize the Police Act. This will ensure we have the governance framework and policies in place so Albertans are confident that our police are accountable to the communities they protect. Policing only works when citizens feel assured that law enforcement is going to treat them reasonably and fairly. “At the earliest opportunity, we will be meeting with the chiefs of police, First Nations, minority community leaders, and other stakeholders to work collaboratively to accelerate this effort. 

June 21, 2021 – The Commission’s Indigenous Human Rights Strategy (Strategy) will guide the Commission’s practices and initiatives to reduce barriers Indigenous peoples face when seeking to enforce their human rights under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

The overarching goals of this strategy are:

  • To help address and reduce systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in health, education, child welfare, housing, justice (including policing and corrections) and other social systems.
  • To meaningfully collaborate with Indigenous communities throughout Alberta to address the racism and discrimination Indigenous people encounter in their day-to-day lives.
  • To build capacity and knowledge within and across the Commission to ensure we can serve Indigenous individuals and communities with respect. This must address the accessibility of our processes, relevance of our educational materials, and our awareness of the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples, in all their diversity.
  • To strengthen and expand Commission’s relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations.

Click to access

AHRC%20Indigenous%20Human%20Rights%20Strategy_Jun2021.pdf


October 30, 2017


ON

New Bail Directive

Ontario unveiled a new bail directive to reduce barriers faced by Indigenous and racialized communities at the bail stage, ensure low-risk and vulnerable individuals have access to the appropriate supports for safe releases, and speed up the bail process.


January 13, 2023


Fed.Govt.

Ottawa laying groundwork for Indigenous justice systems, says Lametti

Indigenous people make up 32 per cent of federal prison population

Justice Minister of and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti and Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council, announce funding to support Métis-led engagement in an Indigenous justice strategy during a press conference in Ottawa on Jan. 12, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

CBC News: Justice Minister David Lametti says Ottawa is building a foundation to allow Indigenous legal systems to flourish alongside the Canadian justice system.

Lametti made the comment Thursday at the new Indigenous Peoples Space on Parliament Hill, where he announced $1.5 million in federal funding over three years to help Métis Nation governments develop an Indigenous justice strategy.

“When justice is part of a spiritual tradition, when justice is part of a community tradition or a nation’s tradition, it will work better,” Lametti said at the first press conference ever held in the Indigenous Peoples Space.

Rehabilitation over punishment

The federal government’s plan to introduce Indigenous-run justice systems, which is included in the prime minister’s mandate letter to Lametti, is aimed at addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.

Despite making up only about five per cent of the population, First Nations, Inuit and Métis people account for 28 per cent of all federally sentenced individuals and 32 per cent of the prison population, according to the Office of the Correctional Investigator of Canada.

“We know that the overrepresentation of Métis people in the criminal justice system is a serious and complex issue that’s rooted in systemic racism and the legacy of colonialism,” said Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council. 

Cassidy Caron, President of the  Métis National Council, takes part in an announcement in Ottawa on Jan. 12, 2023, regarding funding to support Métis-led engagement that will inform the development of an Indigenous Justice Strategy.
Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council, said she wants to revitalize Métis restorative justice systems. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The Métis National Council, Métis Nation of Ontario, Métis Nation of Alberta, Métis Nation of Saskatchewan, Métis Nation of British Columbia and Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak (Women of the Métis Nation) will use the funding to propose new programs, policy and legislation to reduce the number of Métis people behind bars.

Caron said they also will work on revitalizing Métis traditional legal systems with a focus on restorative justice – rehabilitation over punishment. “It’s re-assuming jurisdiction over the criminal justice system for the Métis Nation,” Caron said.

Lametti hails a new period in Confederation

In Call to Action 42, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission urged the federal, provincial and territorial governments to commit to the recognition and implementation of Indigenous justice systems. 

The $1.5 million is part of $11 million set aside in the 2021 federal budget for consultation on the Indigenous justice strategy. 

The money is rolling out over three years, so the plan is unlikely to be ready before the next federal election. Lametti said the federal government is laying the groundwork for what he calls a new period in Confederation, “in which … we’re truly living up to this idea of partnership.”

Caron said the strategy will remain a priority for the Métis Nation, regardless of whether there’s a federal election within the next few years.”We’ll be moving forward on it regardless of what government is in place,” she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olivia Stefanovich

Senior reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a senior reporter for CBC’s Parliamentary Bureau based in Ottawa. She previously worked in Toronto, Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter at @CBCOlivia. Story tips welcome: olivia.stefanovich@cbc.ca.


February 20, 2018


YT

Pilot funding to standardize writing Gladue reports

Yukon is funding $530,000 on 3-year pilot project to formalize and standardize the process of writing Gladue reports for judges sentencing Indigenous offenders. “This is really about getting the best possible information about any individual offender before the court, for consideration in determining what’s an appropriate sentence, and what the variety of that sentence might be — restorative options, rehabilitative options, those kind of things,” said Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee.


September 29, 2020


NS

Premier apology to Indigenous and Black citizens for systemic racism in justice system

CTV News – Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil apologized Tuesday to Black and Indigenous Nova Scotians for systemic racism in the province’s justice system, and said the government is committed to reform. McNeil said he is putting together a restorative justice team composed of members of Black and Indigenous communities, as well as members of government and the police, to work on ways to reform the justice system. He said the restorative justice team will look beyond policing. It will analyze the jail system, the judiciary and other aspects of the justice system, he said, adding it will also consider the social issues underlying the criminalization of Black and Indigenous communities.


May 3, 2018


ON

The Correctional Services and Reintegration Act, 2018

The Correctional Services and Reintegration Act, 2018 was passed today and will result in improved conditions, increased transparency, and will apply a consistent and evidence-based approach to rehabilitation and reintegration to better prepare those in custody for a successful and well-supported return to their communities. Specific to the Indigenous population:

  • Ensuring incarcerated individuals have access to appropriate health care services, including treatment of disease or injury, health promotion, disease prevention, dental care, vision care, hearing care, mental health and addictions care, and traditional First Nation, Inuit, or Métis healing and medicines.

July 8, 2019


SK

The Gladue Rights Research Database

In what started May 2018 as a subscription-based online resource, the Gladue Rights Research Database now has open access through $18,000 funding from the Law Society of Saskatchewan, Legal Aid Saskatchewan and the province’s Ministry of Corrections and Policing.


June 7, 2021


QC

Viens Commission response: investments in Aboriginal and urban community justice programs

Announced measures to support justice in Aboriginal and urban communities. In response to the Viens Commission’s recommendations, the Québec government wishes to further develop Aboriginal community justice and combat the over-representation of this population in the justice system. The investment covers:

  • the establishment of new urban community justice initiatives to satisfy the needs of the First Nations and the Inuit ($4.0 million);
  • support for new initiatives and strengthening of existing community justice initiatives in First Nations and Inuit communities (justice committee) ($7.2 million);
  • enhancement of the remuneration of Gladue writers under contract, the availability of “Gladue letters,” and support to hire additional Gladue writers in Aboriginal organizations ($2.9 million).

Other Actions and Commitments By Theme


Annual Reports of the Correctional Investigator

Read more


Growth in Incarceration rates

Read more


Report Card on Criminal Justice System

Read more