Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 40: Justice (25-42)

New Quebec guide aims to better support Indigenous victims of crime

November 9, 2023

‘It’s culturally adapted to the First Nation,’ said Huron-Wendat grand chief

People stand in a row smiling at the camera next to a poster that reads CAVAC
Representatives gathered Wednesday to present a guide created by Quebec’s Crimes Victims Assistance Centre (CAVAC) to help Indigenous victims navigate the justice system.  (Émilie Warren/CBC)

CBC Indigenous: Quebec’s Crimes Victims Assistance Centre (CAVAC) has unveiled a new guide for its workers to offer culturally safe services to Indigenous victims as they navigate the justice system.

The tool, developed in partnership with First Nations and Inuit people in Quebec, is a step forward, says Huron-Wendat Grand Chief Rémy Vincent. He says involving Indigenous experts makes the guide credible. “It’s culturally adapted to the First Nation,” said Vincent. “When we talk about reconciliation and all that stuff, it’s important to include the First Nation at the beginning of a process.”

The guide has tailored advice to help Indigenous people understand the legal process and prepare for testifying in court.

Several blue books layed out on a table. The book reads CAVAC Guide.
Kathleen Dufour says the guide is the fruit of 18 months of development. (Émilie Warren/CBC)

Vincent says he’s positive this tool will help respond to the needs of communities and build trust. He says this approach could even be replicated. “If we don’t have this trust, it’s not going to be easy,” said Vincent. “We have a tendency to create laws or regulations and present them and we feel like we have done the right thing. But the right thing is to include First Nations at the start and work with them.”

Kathleen Dufour, the executive director of CAVAC Outaouais, says this project is the fruit of 18 months of development to improve services for Indigenous victims of crime. She says when the decision was made to develop the tool, little research had been done to follow the progress of an Indigenous victim of crime through the justice system.

She says involving Indigenous partners was central to their approach, with the organization having more than 20 Indigenous case workers who help ensure Indigenous victims feel secure when interacting with employees.

“It’s important to be welcoming the First Nation victims with respect. No judgment,” said Dufour. “We want to help First Nations victims use their traditional skills, their values, to be confident to deal with the justice system. And it’s not easy. We have to take the time.”

The head of Quebec Native Women, Marjolaine Étienne, says the guide is pursuing “a completely different approach.” She says it’s not easy for Indigenous women in particular to appear in court and testify against an abuser — part of why preparing people about what to expect and offering support is so crucial.  


Rachel Watts, CBC journalist

Rachel Watts is a journalist with CBC News in Quebec City. Originally from Montreal, she enjoys covering stories in the province of Quebec. You can reach her at

With files from CBC’s Émilie Warren and Radio-Canada