Nov. 2, 2023: Canada’s prison watchdog is denouncing the over-representation of Indigenous people in federal prisons as a travesty while urging significant reform, as he releases the second part of a two-year investigation. In the conclusion of his Ten Years Since Spirit Matters report, Correctional Investigator Ivan Zinger calls for the devolution of correctional power to Indigenous people to address worsening rates of over-representation.
“The steady and unabated increase in the disproportionate representation of Indigenous peoples under federal sentence is nothing short of a national travesty and remains one of Canada’s most pressing human rights challenges,” Zinger wrote.
Dec. 17, 2021: APTN – Ivan Zinger, the Correctional Investigator issued a report indicating that incarceration rates for Indigenous people on federal prisons has increased to 32% and almost 50% for Indigenous women despite only composing less than 5% of the population in Canada
Office of the Correctional Investigator. Government of Canada.
April 19, 2021: Budget 2021 invests $992.8M in three program areas:
- MMIWG: $57M over 5 years “to enhance supports for Indigenous women’s and 2SLGBTQQIA+ organizations and implement monitoring programs
- Indigenous Policing and Community Safety Services ($861 over 5 years)
- Access to Justice services ($74.8M over 3 years)
- Violence Prevention Strategy from 2020 Fall Economic Statement: $781.5M over 5 years
Other funds allocated to MMIWG initiatives are actually already allocated to other program areas including:
- Health and Wellness: $139.2M
- Language and Culture: $453M
Jan. 21, 2020: Toronto Star – The same urgent calls to action are raised in the final reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), as well as two recent parliamentary committee studies on Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system. These bodies have called upon the federal government to implement measures recommended by the Office including:
- Transfer resources and responsibility to Indigenous groups and communities for the care, custody and supervision of Indigenous offenders.
- Appoint a Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous Corrections.
Increase access and availability of culturally relevant correctional programming.
- Clarify and enhance the role of Indigenous elders.
- Improve engagement with Indigenous communities and enhance their capacity to provide reintegration services.
- Enhance access to screening, diagnosis and treatment of Indigenous offenders affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
- Develop assessment and classification tools responsive to the needs and realities of Indigenous people caught up in the criminal justice system.
As Dr. Ivan Zinger, the correctional investigator 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. Bold and urgent action is required to address one of Canada’s most persistent and pressing human rights issues.”
have been completed to date
Affirm independence of RCMP from government civil litigation
Review and amend their respective Statutes of Limitations
Ensure lawyers receive cultural competency and Indigenous rights training
Mandatory law school course on Aboriginal people and the law
Residential School Settlement Agreements for those excluded from the TRC process
Commit to eliminate overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody
Provide stable funding to implement alternatives to imprisonment
Amend Criminal Code to depart from mandatory minimum sentences
Develop culturally relevant FASD prevention program
Reform criminal justice system to address needs of people with FASD
Eliminate barriers to creation of new Aboriginal healing lodges
Deliver culturally relevant services to inmates on social issues
Provide more supports for Aboriginal programs in halfway houses
Commit to eliminate overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in jail
Develop national plan to publish data on Indigenous criminal victimization
Create funded and accessible Indigenous-specific victim programs
Appoint public inquiry into MMIWG
Commit to recognize and implement Aboriginal Justice Systems
Fund establishment of Indigenous law institutes
Publish legal opinions on scope and extent of Aboriginal and Treaty rights
Adopt “acceptance and burden of proof” principles on Aboriginal claims
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Legislative and Institutional Issues
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Bill S-3 An Act to Amend the Indian Act
Commitments to Indigenous-Police Relations
Decarceration Through Self-Determination
Indigenous Addiction and the Justice System
Indigenous Responses to Final Report
Indigenous Success Stories