Call to Action # 30

We call upon federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody over the next decade, and to issue detailed annual reports that monitor and evaluate progress in doing so.

Why “Stalled”?

July 20, 2023: Overall, the incarceration rate in provincial institutions for Indigenous people across the five provinces surveyed in 2020/21 was 42.6 people per 100,000, compared to a rate of 4 for non-Indigenous people. The following represents the disparity between incarceration rates for indigenous people vs non-Indigenous

  • Saskatchewan = 17.7% higher
  • Alberta = 10.8% higher
  • BC = 7.9% higher
  • Ontario = 6.3% higher
  • Nova Scotia = 1.9% higher

There is no national strategy to monitor and report on progress in eliminating the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in custody. Incarceration rates for Indigenous people – who only comprise 5% of the Canadian population – continue to rise. In fact, since April 2010 the Indigenous inmate population has increased by 18.1% whereas the non-Indigenous incarcerated population has declined over the same period by 28.3%. The numbers are even more troubling for Indigenous women, who now account for almost 50% of the women inmate population in Canada. (Correctional Investigator Report Dec. 17, 2021) – up from 42% in the Office of Correctional Services 2018 – 2019 Annual Report.

In his January 2020 comments Dr. Zinger concluded: “It is not acceptable that Indigenous people in this country experience incarceration rates that are six to seven times higher than the national average. The Correctional Investigator drew attention to the fact that federal corrections seems impervious to change and unresponsive to the needs, histories and social realities behind high rates of Indigenous offending. (Toronto Star).

Most Aboriginal inmates self-identify as First Nations (68%), followed by Métis (26.5%) and Inuit (5.5%).

Capacity Building Fund of Aboriginal Justice Program is no longer accepting applications despite significant success of the program in reducing recidivism. Government also acknowledges impacts of systemic issues outside of justice system that also need to be addressed. 

Multiple initiatives at both the federal and provincial/territory levels.

Significant deletions from official federal Government website “Delivering on the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action”:

  • Deleted “under the jurisdiction of provinces and territories” and replaced with “in coordination with provinces and territories”
  • Deleted “we are also collaborating with Statistics Canada” to measure Indigenous overrepresentation in the criminal justice system

Current Status


Call to Action
last updated

June 10, 2024

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Actions and Commitments

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Growth in Incarceration rates

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Actions to Reduce Overrepresentation

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Correctional Investigator Annual Reports

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Report Card on Criminal Justice System

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Govt. Acts to Reduce Overrepresentation

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Background Content

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CBA Response

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Decarceration Through Self-Determination

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