Justice

Learn how the Government of Canada is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 25 to 42.

Based on data provided August 2021.

  • Calls to action 29 and 41 are based on data provided March 2022.

25. We call upon the federal government to establish a written policy that reaffirms the independence of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate crimes in which the government has its own interest as a potential or real party in civil litigation.

What's happening?

On May 7, 2018, the Government of Canada reaffirmed the independence of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the exercise of police powers in criminal investigations in the mandate letter to the RCMP Commissioner. Any directions provided by the minister, pursuant to section 5 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act may not include directions which interfere with the RCMP's criminal investigations. In addition, ministers may not attempt to influence in any way the conduct of specific criminal investigations.

The courts have long confirmed that when carrying out traditional policing duties, such as keeping the peace and investigating crime, police officers are not Crown agents or government functionaries (R. v. Campbell). The existing legal framework, as set out by the Parliament in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and supported by case law, is compatible with that principle.

The Government of Canada recognizes the concerns raised about the RCMP disclosing documents collected during a criminal investigation when the federal Crown is also involved in civil litigation unrelated to the activities of the RCMP and the documents may be relevant to the conduct of the litigation.

However, in matters related to civil litigation against the Crown, the RCMP is part of the Crown and is treated as a federal government institution.

When required by law, the Crown must list all documents that are in its custody, power, possession or control and relevant to the litigation.

In that regard, a protocol entitled Principals to Implement Legal Advice on the Listing and Inspection of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Documents in Civil Litigation sets out the internal procedures to be followed when the RCMP possesses documents from criminal investigation files that may be relevant to civil litigation involving the federal Crown as a party.

The protocol enables the Attorney General of Canada to meet his obligations to list relevant documents, while ensuring that documents that may be privileged or that were gotten pursuant to a confidentiality agreement or a search warrant are adequately protected and dealt with appropriately.

26. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to review and amend their respective statutes of limitations to ensure that they conform to the principle that governments and other entities cannot rely on limitation defences to defend legal actions of historical abuse brought by Aboriginal people.

What's happening?

On January 11, 2019, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada issued the Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples. The directive guides the Government of Canada's legal approaches, positions and decisions taken in civil litigation involving Aboriginal and treaty rights and the Crown's obligation towards Indigenous peoples. Litigation Guideline 14 states that limitations and equitable defences should be pleaded only where there is a principled basis and evidence to support the defence.

For example, the Government of Canada makes admissions of fact and admissions relevant to the establishment of Aboriginal rights and title where possible. This results in fewer issues in dispute and signals our respect for, and recognition of, Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Further, in several cases, the decision was made not to appeal or seek judicial review. This acknowledges the Government of Canada's responsibility to redress past wrongs.

Recent progress

The Government of Canada continues to rely on the Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples to inform the approach it takes in historical abuse litigation processes.

Next steps

Consideration is being given to approaches for engaging provinces and territories who are implicated in this call to action by being asked to review and amend their respective limitations legislation.

27. We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

What's happening?

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is responsible for the response to Call to Action 27.

28. We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

What's happening?

Every Canadian law school is responsible for the response to Call to Action 28.

29. We call upon the parties and, in particular, the federal government, to work collaboratively with plaintiffs not included in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to have disputed legal issues determined expeditiously on an agreed set of facts.

What's happening?

The Government of Canada has committed to resolving Indigenous Childhood Claims Litigation (Childhood Claims) outside of the courts in a fair, compassionate and respectful manner. This commitment to reconciliation and resolution of claims of this nature has been demonstrated by:

  • the settlement of the Anderson litigation (Newfoundland and Labrador Residential Schools) 2016
  • the Prime Minister's apology to former students of the Newfoundland and Labrador Residential Schools 2017
  • the appointment of James Igloliorte, a former student, as the minister's special representative to lead healing and commemoration in Anderson (2017-2018)
  • the Sixties Scoop (Status Indians and Inuit) settlement 2017
  • the creation of Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation (2017)
  • the McLean settlement (Federal Indian Day Schools) 2018
  • the creation of the McLean Day Schools Settlement Corporation (2018)
  • the Memorandum of Understanding with the Ile-a-la-Crosse Steering Committee and Métis Nation – Saskatchewan (2019)
  • the Gottfriedson (Indian Residential School Day Scholars) settlement approval (2021)

Recent budget investments

Childhood Claims are addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Budget 2021 provided $3 million for Childhood Claims to support ongoing efforts to resolve Childhood Claims outside of the courts. While this funding is not exclusive to responding to Call to Action 29, this would include supporting exploratory discussions, negotiations, joint research and joint expert contracts and other related litigation and resolution expenses.

Recent progress

The Government of Canada continues to work with the parties to implement the Sixties Scoop, McLean and Gottfriedson settlement agreements and will continue to take steps to address claims outside of the courts, wherever possible.

Next steps

The Government of Canada continues to work collaboratively with the plaintiffs, their counsel and Indigenous leadership to identify options to resolve Childhood Claims outside of the courts wherever possible.

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.

What's happening?

Indigenous peoples face substantial barriers in accessing justice. Using a human rights lens, the Government of Canada commits to taking concrete action with Indigenous partners, to create solutions that support self-determination and facilitate systemic transformation.

For decades, Indigenous peoples have called for justice reform and for police, courts and correctional services to implement treatment and rehabilitation services to provide better protection and reduce recidivism. Culturally appropriate and accessible justice support services for victims and families and trauma-informed programs are among the justice system responses to violence required to promote the safety and security of all.

Indigenous-led and community-based responses are also needed, along with systemic changes, to reset the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the justice system.

What's happening?

With the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (federal pathway), the Government of Canada has affirmed its commitment to co-develop an Indigenous justice strategy to address systemic discrimination and the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in the justice system.

Since January 2016, the Government of Canada has allocated funding, created programs and introduced new policies, initiatives and legislation to respond to this call to action.

Specific work will be done to implement Gladue Principles that would:

  • contribute to addressing systemic barriers
  • increase the involvement of Indigenous communities in rehabilitating offenders
  • reduce the risk of future harm

In addition, the Government of Canada will invest in research and data collection to better understand the role of different social systems in preventing involvement with the criminal justice system. This includes establishing national standards regarding missing persons reports and improving the collection and use of disaggregated data to address the over-representation of Indigenous victims, survivors and offenders in the criminal justice system and experiences with police, courts and correctional services.

In July 2021, to respond to gaps in data in the area of Indigenous peoples' involvement in the criminal courts, Justice Canada published the Indigenous peoples in criminal court in Canada: An exploration using the Relative Rate Index report. This first-of-its-kind research study estimates the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in Canadian criminal courts and assesses the extent to which Indigenous accused experience different outcomes, relative to non-Indigenous accused.

Program funding

The Government of Canada has invested in community-based justice programs that provide support to Indigenous peoples in the justice system and offer alternatives to mainstream justice processes, in appropriate cases.

Budget 2017 provided approximately $12.7 million in on-going funding for the Indigenous Justice Program and $10 million over 5 years to support the Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative. Additionally, Budget 2016 increased on-going funding for the Indigenous Courtwork Program by $4 million.

Initiatives and policies

In 2018, federal, provincial and territorial deputy ministers responsible for justice and public safety tasked their officials with developing a Pan-Canadian Strategy to Address the Overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the Criminal Justice System. Federal-provincial-and territorial representatives are engaging with Indigenous communities and organizations and working together to develop this strategy and a corresponding action plan.

Justice Canada is working with some Indigenous communities to develop administration of justice agreements to strengthen community-based justice systems and support self-determination.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has been working with federal, provincial and regional partners to increase the use of restorative justice and increase referrals to community and Indigenous (traditional) justice programs pre-charge. In 2019 the RCMP introduced mechanisms to track the number of restorative justice referrals and are working towards a 5% increase in referrals over the next 3 years.

Annual reporting

In May 2019, the first performance monitoring framework for the Canadian criminal justice system was released. 1 of the 9 outcomes included in the framework is that the criminal justice system reduces the number of Indigenous peoples in the system.

Ensuring the criminal justice system identifies the proportion of Indigenous to non-Indigenous victims and survivors and accused or convicted persons is critical to know if there has been a reduction. This outcome is measured by the representation of Indigenous individuals among:

  • victims of homicide and other violent crimes
  • persons accused of homicide
  • admissions to the correctional system
  • persons under correctional supervision
  • dangerous offender classifications

Results from this framework are available in an annual State of the Criminal Justice System Report and through the interactive State of the Criminal Justice System Dashboard.

Legislative response

In 2018 the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-75: An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. Enacted in 2019, this legislation made changes to the bail system and provided a new tool to address administration of justice charges to help reduce overrepresentation.

In the 2020 Speech from the Throne and January 2021 supplementary mandate letters, the Government of Canada reaffirmed its commitment to advancing reforms to address systemic inequities in our criminal justice system, while holding offenders to account, protecting victims and keeping our communities safe.

Recent budget investments

Budget 2021 allocated $103.8 million over 5 years, beginning in 2021 to 2022, for a new Pathways to Safe Indigenous Communities Initiative to support Indigenous communities to develop more holistic community-based safety and wellness models.

The Fall Economic Statement 2020 announced $1.3 million in ongoing funding for the Aboriginal Community Safety Planning Initiative: a strengths-based planning program that supports Indigenous communities in advancing intervention and prevention efforts to address a wide range of community safety-related issues.

The Fall Economic Statement 2020 also announced $49.34 million in contribution funding over 5 years and $9.66 million ongoing to support the implementation of Gladue Principles in the mainstream justice system and Indigenous-led responses to help reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice and correctional systems.

Through Budget 2021, $64.6 million over 5 years, beginning in 2021to 2022 and $18.1 million ongoing has been allocated to enhance Indigenous-led crime prevention strategies and community safety services.

Recent progress

Legislation: Bill C-22, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, introduced on February 18, 2021, supports the government's ongoing commitment to address systemic inequities in all phases of the criminal justice system.

The bill proposes the following reforms:

  • repeal mandatory minimum penalties for certain offences to address the disproportionate impact on Indigenous and Black offenders, as well as those struggling with substance use and addiction
  • allow for greater use of conditional sentences orders
  • require police and prosecutors to consider other measures for simple possession of drugs such as diversion to addiction treatment programs, rather than laying charges or prosecuting individuals for simple possession of an illegal drug

Next steps

On January 15, 2021, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada received a supplementary mandated letter in which he was tasked to develop, in consultation and cooperation with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners, an Indigenous justice strategy to address systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in Canada's justice system. This work is to be supported by the ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and Indigenous Services.

The Government of Canada (through the Departments of Justice and Public Safety) is also exploring legislative and policy changes that would:

  • improve access to justice
  • expand cultural competency training of justice workers
  • increase the use of culturally safe family and victims supports
  • provide support for community-based Indigenous-led justice solutions as alternatives to the criminal justice system

Through the federal pathway, the Government of Canada affirms its focus on dismantling barriers to justice for Indigenous peoples, which include policy, legislative and program reforms that acknowledge that Indigenous-led, multi-sectoral and healing responses are needed to support Indigenous victims and their families, as well as Indigenous peoples who are accused, and Indigenous offenders.

The federal government will increase prosecutorial capacity in the territories to support victims of violence. Administration of justice agreements will continue to be negotiated with Indigenous communities to strengthen community-based justice systems, support self-determination and to provide alternatives to the mainstream justice system.

31. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to provide sufficient and stable funding to implement and evaluate community sanctions that will provide realistic alternatives to imprisonment for Aboriginal offenders and respond to the underlying causes of offending.

What's happening?

The Indigenous Justice Program supports Indigenous-led community-based justice programs in partnership with provinces and territories. Funded programs provide alternatives to the mainstream justice system, including prison.

These programs are developed by Indigenous communities for Indigenous peoples and aim to address the needs of victims and offenders. Programs use restorative and traditional justice processes that are rooted in the unique traditions and cultures of each community.

The 2016 evaluation of the Indigenous Justice Program found that Indigenous peoples who completed a community-based alternative through the program were significantly less likely to re-offend than those who did not.

The Indigenous Justice Program received a permanent mandate with an ongoing investment of $12.7 million annually. This permanent mandate allowed the Indigenous Justice Program to enter into long-term funding agreements with community-based programs to provide them much needed stability.

Through the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, announced in June 2021, the federal government will increase prosecutorial capacity in the territories to support victims of violence. Administration of justice agreements will continue to be negotiated with Indigenous communities to strengthen community-based justice systems, support self-determination and to provide alternatives to the mainstream justice system.

Recent progress

Since the onset of COVID-19, Indigenous Justice Program has provided approximately $1 million in funding to support its community-based justice programs across the country to continue to operate and respond to community justice needs during the pandemic.

The 2021 evaluation of the Indigenous Justice Program is currently underway. This evaluation will build upon and enhance previous recidivism and costs-savings studies. It will also include more details on the impacts on victims involved in Indigenous justice processes.

Next steps

The Indigenous Justice Program continues to work with provincial and territorial partners to look at ways to better support the needs of Indigenous community partners.

32. We call upon the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to allow trial judges, upon giving reasons, to depart from mandatory minimum sentences and restrictions on the use of conditional sentences.

What's happening?

The Government of Canada has heard Canadians, courts and criminal justice experts and seen evidence on the impact of existing sentencing policies on Indigenous peoples, Black Canadians and members of marginalized communities. This includes Justice Canada research on Criminal Code and Controlled Drugs and Substances Act offences subject to mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment and their impact on Indigenous peoples, Black Canadians and members of marginalized communities.

The government recognizes that there is a need to address the systemic issues related to existing sentencing policies and is committed to ensuring that responses to criminal conduct are fair and effective while maintaining public safety.

The Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People affirms that the federal government will increase prosecutorial capacity in the territories to support victims of violence.

Administration of justice agreements will continue to be negotiated with Indigenous communities to strengthen community-based justice systems, support self-determination and to provide alternatives to the mainstream justice system.

Recent progress

On February 18, 2021, Bill C-22, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act was introduced in the House of Commons.

The proposed reforms include:

  • repealing mandatory minimum penalties for certain offences, which have disproportionately affected Indigenous peoples, Black Canadians and members of marginalized communities
  • allowing for greater use of conditional sentence orders in cases where an offender faces a term of less than 2 years imprisonment and does not pose a threat to public safety
  • requiring police and prosecutors to consider alternatives to charging or prosecuting simple drug possession offences, including diversion to addiction treatment programs.

Together, these measures would enable courts to impose appropriate sentences and consider all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are available and reasonable in the circumstances, with particular attention to the circumstances of Indigenous offenders as required by the Gladue principle found in paragraph 718(2)(e) of the Criminal Code. The Gladue principle requires sentencing judges to consider systemic and background factors of the offender, and the types of sentencing procedures and sanctions that are appropriate in the circumstances.

Next steps

Passage and effective implementation of Bill C-22 and continued examination of sentencing laws and their impacts, including on the over incarceration of Indigenous persons.

In the federal pathway, the Government of Canada affirms that specific work will be done to implement Gladue Principles that would contribute to addressing systemic barriers, increase the involvement of Indigenous communities in rehabilitating offenders and reduce the risk of future harm.

33. We call upon the federal, provincial and territorial governments to recognize as a high priority the need to address and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and to develop, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, FASD preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.

What's happening?

Before fiscal year 2017 to 2018, the Government of Canada had been investing $14.2 million annually and ongoing through Indigenous Services Canada's Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Program to support First Nations and Inuit communities to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and improve the quality of life of those affected by the disorder.

In 2019, the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Initiative through the Public Health Agency of Canada, funded the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada for a total of $558,000 over 3 years. This funding is designed to support the development of prevention messaging and multimedia resources that will promote culturally relevant messaging and raise awareness of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy across all 4 Inuit regions and amongst the Inuit population in 3 key urban centers.

Recent budget investments

Budget 2017 invested an additional $10.5 million over 5 years, with $3.7 million ongoing to expand the mentoring and community coordinator projects. As a result of this increased funding, by 2022 Indigenous Services Canada will invest $17.9 million annually and ongoing.

Recent progress

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder funding through Indigenous Services Canada is part of a suite of community-based investments in healthy child development that continue to support access to a continuum of services aimed to improve health outcomes for First Nations and Inuit infants, children, families and communities.

The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Program supports First Nations and Inuit communities to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder births and enhances the quality of life of those affected by the disorder.

In 2021, the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Initiative through Public Health Agency of Canada launched a targeted call for proposals through its National Strategic Projects Fund to 11 Indigenous organizations across Canada to submit a request for funding. It aims to fund 3 Indigenous organizations for projects for up to 3 years to a maximum of $600,000 per project.

The objective of the funding is to increase awareness and understanding of the risks of alcohol use in pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder within urban, rural or remote off-reserve Indigenous communities and among service providers who support Indigenous peoples of childbearing age.

Additionally, the funding will support, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, the development of prevention projects that are culturally appropriate for Indigenous communities and develop new and innovative resources and tools to highlight the risks of mixing alcohol with unprotected sex and to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder among Indigenous peoples during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next steps

As of 2022, Indigenous Services Canada will be investing $17.9 million annually and ongoing through the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Program. We continue to work with our Indigenous partners on how best to maximize this investment and enhance community-based prevention activities for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

An open call for the National Strategic Projects Fund at Public Health Agency of Canada is planned for 2021 to 2022, which could include opportunities for Indigenous organizations to apply for funding to support awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and to develop culturally appropriate prevention messaging.

34. We call upon the governments of Canada, the provinces and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including:

  1. Providing increased community resources and powers for courts to ensure that FASD is properly diagnosed, and that appropriate community supports are in place for those with FASD.
  2. Enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by FASD.
  3. Providing community, correctional, and parole resources to maximize the ability of people with FASD to live in the community.
  4. Adopting appropriate evaluation mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of such programs and ensure community safety.

What's happening?

Justice Canada continues discussions across government departments, non-governmental organizations and others for opportunities to collaborate.

Justice Canada is continuing with federal, provincial and territorial discussions regarding sentencing-related issues. This work is aligned with the same efforts as Call to Action 32.

To respond to some knowledge gaps in the area of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and criminal justice, Justice Canada has recently published the 3 following research reports:

Justice Canada continued funding to the provincial and territorial governments and community-based organizations to build capacity and increase support for youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the criminal justice system.

Recent progress

The introduction of Bill C-22, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, on February 18, 2021, will also address this call to action. The bill targets sentencing policies, such as mandatory minimum penalties and restrictions to the availability of conditional sentences, that have contributed to the overrepresentation of marginalized people in the criminal justice system, including those with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

The proposed amendments also direct law enforcement and prosecutors to consider the use of diversion for simple drug possession offences before laying or proceeding with charges. These reforms will afford greater discretion to sentencing courts to craft more proportionate sentences that take into consideration the particular circumstances of the offence and the offender before the court.

Next steps

Continue to work towards a fair and equitable justice system for all marginalized Canadians and to support enactment of the bill.

As announced in the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (federal pathway), the Government of Canada will focus on dismantling barriers to justice for Indigenous peoples, which include policy, legislative and program reforms that acknowledge that Indigenous-led, multi-sectoral and healing responses are needed to support:

  • Indigenous victims and their families
  • Indigenous peoples who are accused
  • Indigenous offenders

In the federal pathway, the Government of Canada affirms that specific work will be done to implement Gladue Principles that would:

  • contribute to addressing systemic barriers
  • increase the involvement of Indigenous communities in rehabilitating offenders
  • reduce the risk of future harm

Administration of justice agreements will continue to be negotiated with Indigenous communities to strengthen community-based justice systems, support self-determination and to provide alternatives to the mainstream justice system.

35. We call upon the federal government to eliminate barriers to the creation of additional Aboriginal healing lodges within the federal correctional system.

What's happening?

Through engagement with Indigenous communities and organizations and other partners including the Office of the Correctional Investigator, the funding arrangement for Corrections and Conditional Release Act Section 81 healing lodges was identified as a key barrier to the operations and sustainability of Section 81 healing lodges.

In 2017 the Correctional Service of Canada strengthened the Section 81 funding arrangement to better support their operations and respond to the needs of Indigenous communities and organizations managing those healing lodges. It will allow Indigenous agreement holders to have access to funds that will ensure the effective operations of their healing lodges including adequately responding to the needs of Indigenous offenders in their care and custody.

In addition the Correctional Service of Canada:

  • has reviewed and is currently updating a number of its policies including Commissioner's Directive 541-2, Negotiation, Implementation and Management of Corrections and Conditional Release Act Section 81 agreements, to ensure timely assessment of Indigenous community applications for a Section 81 agreement
  • is strengthening how it processes the transfer of Indigenous offenders to healing lodges as part of their reintegration plans to the community
  • continuously reviews Indigenous community expressions of interest to enter into a Section 81 agreement with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for the care and custody of Indigenous offenders

The Correctional Service of Canada is committed to ongoing partnership with Indigenous communities through regular engagement sessions and annual meetings with healing lodges' executive directors and wardens, where strategic discussions include collaboratively identifying any barriers and ways to remove them as the Correctional Service of Canada continues to nurture long standing relationships with Indigenous peoples through the Corrections and Conditional Release Act Section 81.

In 2019, the Correctional Service of Canada signed an agreement with the Indigenous Women's Healing Centre's Eagle Women's Lodge, to convert Eagle Women's Lodge from a community residential facility into a Section 81 healing lodge. Eagle Women's Lodge is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This agreement provides a greater number of women with timely access to beds in a healing lodge closer to their communities. This multi-level facility accommodates up to 30 women classified as minimum and on a case-by-case basis, medium security and conditionally released federally sentenced women.

Recent progress

The Correctional Service of Canada has reviewed and is currently updating a number of its policies to ensure timely assessment of Indigenous community applications for a Section 81 agreement, while strengthening how the Correctional Service of Canada processes the transfer of Indigenous offenders to healing lodges as part of their reintegration plans to the community.

With the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, the Government of Canada affirms investments will also be made in Indigenous-led community safety planning to improve the safety and well-being of Indigenous peoples, specifically, women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, including through the Aboriginal Community Safety Planning Initiative and the new Pathways to Safe Indigenous Communities Initiative to develop more holistic community-based safety and wellness models.

The Government of Canada will conduct a review of resources at the Correctional Service of Canada healing lodge for Indigenous women with a view to identifying the capacity required to effectively address rehabilitation and intervention needs.

Next steps

Next steps include exploring additional avenues for identifying and removing barriers to the creation of additional healing lodges.

36. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work with Aboriginal communities to provide culturally relevant services to inmates on issues such as substance abuse, family and domestic violence, and overcoming the experience of having been sexually abused.

What's happening?

Investments were made starting in 2017 to 2018 and ongoing to help reverse the trend of Indigenous overrepresentation in Canada's criminal justice system and to help previously incarcerated Indigenous peoples heal, rehabilitate and find good jobs.

By implementing the community reintegration initiatives supported by the Community Reintegration Fund, the Correctional Service of Canada is better positioned to strengthen the engagement of Indigenous peoples in planning the successful release of Indigenous offenders under Section 84 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

Funding supports trauma, addictions, life skills counselling and gang disaffiliation for Indigenous offenders with particular focus on the Indigenous Intervention Centres in the Correctional Service of Canada's institutions and the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, located in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.

The request for proposals process was launched in spring 2019. The Correctional Service of Canada has reviewed the applications proposals and awarded contracts to successful bidders.

The Correctional Service of Canada will continue to implement the Community Reintegration Fund from Budget 2017 to reverse the trend of Indigenous over incarceration in the federal correctional system and to enhance community reintegration efforts for Indigenous offenders. Key initiatives include:

  • increased number of Indigenous community liaison officers and Indigenous community development officers to improve and expand linkages to communities on behalf of Indigenous offenders
  • enhanced reintegration support services to Indigenous offenders in rural and remote communities to better respond to the needs of Indigenous offenders
  • increased access in urban areas to Indigenous-specific counselling and support in the areas of substance abuse, trauma and life skills
  • funding for the Indigenous Offender Employment Initiative that commenced in the prairie region with the implementation of new training and employment initiatives at 3 healing lodges and 1 medium or minimum-security institution

Budget 2017 also supported the development of community-based and culturally-relevant projects with a focus on alternatives to incarceration and reintegration support for Indigenous offenders. A call for proposals was launched at the end of 2017 and selected projects began before the end of the fiscal year.

Recent progress

In 2019, a federal, provincial and territorial working group was established to increase collaboration in Indigenous corrections through the federal, provincial and territorial Heads of Corrections committee. This working group on "Building a Response the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action" is tasked by the Heads of Corrections to identify responses in the form of a best practices document that correctional jurisdictions across Canada can access as they respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Additionally, the working group will identify and prioritize strategies that can be collaboratively developed and implemented by jurisdictions and with Indigenous partners to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. Of note is that, shortly after the creation of the group, the mandate shifted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of the past 18 months, emphasis has been placed on collaborating across jurisdictions to identify challenges, opportunities and best practices related to the provision of cultural and spiritual support for Indigenous peoples in corrections and with regard to community engagement with Indigenous communities to support the reintegration of released offenders.

Next steps

Next steps include continued collaboration with federal government departments, provincial and territorial authorities, and Indigenous communities and governing bodies. This collaboration will allow the Correctional Service of Canada to enhance the provision of culturally relevant services targeting trauma-related issues.

With the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, the Government of Canada will focus on dismantling barriers to justice for Indigenous peoples, which include policy, legislative and program reforms that acknowledge that Indigenous-led, multi-sectoral and healing responses are needed to support Indigenous victims and their families, as well as Indigenous peoples who are accused and Indigenous offenders.

The government will seek new opportunities to increase collaboration with Indigenous partners and organizations and with provincial and territorial partners to improve availability and access to Indigenous-led, culturally safe and trauma-informed victim services and supports.

37. We call upon the federal government to provide more supports for Aboriginal programming in halfway houses and parole services.

What's happening?

The Correctional Service of Canada has strengthened its support for offenders in the community through the assistance of Indigenous community liaison officers in urban centres as resources to connect Indigenous offenders to culturally responsive services in the community.

Indigenous community liaison officers mobilize and partner with Indigenous community agencies to provide wrap-around services such as access to Indigenous community services that are critical to offender release for Indigenous offenders just before and upon release including at halfway houses. Through Budget 2017, the Correctional Service of Canada has increased the number of Indigenous community liaison officers to better respond to the needs of Indigenous offenders, with particular focus on increasing the engagement and participation of Indigenous communities and the use of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act Section 84 release process.

The Correctional Service of Canada has completed the creation of the Indigenous liaison officer and Indigenous community liaison officers training, as identified under Recommendation 4 of the Office of the Auditor General's 2016 report, Preparing Aboriginal Offenders for Release, which speaks to the Correctional Service of Canada's commitment to develop guidelines and training for staff working with Indigenous offenders on how to demonstrate the impact of culturally specific interventions on an offender's progress toward successful reintegration into the community.

CORCAN, a special operating agency of the Correctional Service of Canada, is working closely with Indigenous communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan to enhance Indigenous offender access to employment opportunities in the community through offering additional on-the-job training in construction services, in particular as it relates to modular construction.

This includes:

  • implementing CORCAN employment programs to develop offender's skills in construction related areas at the Correctional Service of Canada operated healing lodges and institutions in the prairie region
  • having opened 2 community industries in fiscal year 2018 to 2019, with 1 in Saskatoon and another in Edmonton

These community industries provide transitional employment, on-the-job and vocational training to offenders being released from federal correctional institutions.

In fiscal year 2019 to 2020, implementation will commence in both British Columbia and Ontario to provide additional opportunities for Indigenous offenders in those regions, culminating in the opening of community industries in Ottawa and Vancouver.

Through the Budget 2017 allocation, Public Safety Canada is supporting the development of community-based and culturally relevant projects with a focus on alternatives to incarceration and reintegration support for Indigenous offenders. A call for proposals was launched at the end of 2017 and selected projects began before the end of fiscal year 2017 to 2018.

In June 2021, the Correctional Service of Canada's Indigenous Offender Reintegration Contribution Program was approved by Treasury Board. This contribution program is an opportunity for the Correctional Service of Canada to distribute funding to the Indigenous governing bodies and organizations:

  • developing or delivering services to improve correctional results for Indigenous offenders
  • addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous offenders in the system
  • creating safer communities and strengthening community partnerships

The total value of the contribution program is $4,875,000 over 5 years and $1.5 million per year ongoing.

Recent progress

The Correctional Service of Canada continues to offer Indigenous-specific community maintenance correctional programs for offenders. These programs target general crime, general violence, family violence, substance abuse and sexual offending, in an integrated manner. The main goal of maintenance programs is to manage the risk of re-offending by providing follow-up to main programs.

Next steps

The Correctional Service of Canada will continue to work with its existing partners for the provision of residential services and associated interventions that address the needs of the offender population, including Indigenous offenders.

New partnerships will be explored based on expressions of interest communicated to the Correctional Service of Canada by community-based organizations and based on needs and their capacity to offer Indigenous-appropriate interventions.

Section 84 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act provides the legislative framework for the Correctional Service of Canada to work with Indigenous communities in the development of release plans for Indigenous offenders. Section 84 release plans apply to offenders who want to serve their eventual conditional or statutory release in an Indigenous community or in an urban area with the support and direction of an Indigenous organization.

Section 84 also applies to offenders who are subject to long-term supervision orders (LTSOs).

The offender is informed of the section 84 release process at the preliminary assessment stage of the intake process. The purpose of starting the process earlier in the sentence is to allow inmates time and opportunity to get support from their community as soon as possible.

Timely communication, with the offender's permission, can help the case management team formulate a gradual and structured release plan.

The EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections has identified section 84 release plans as one of 8 areas of priority focus, as they continue to play a key role in providing Indigenous offenders with culturally responsive interventions and support that foster their successful reintegration.

For the next 2 years, the sub-committee will review the section 84 release planning process for opportunities to streamline it and to enhance participation. Memoranda have been issued to all regions to:

  • reinforce confirmation, at Intake, of interest in release planning pursuant to section 84
  • flag deactivation where applicable
  • ensure consistent use of the Section 84 - The Path Home Tool, an automated reminder system that sends emails to staff about federally-sentenced individuals who have indicated an interest in or are pursuing a section 84 conditional release

Additionally, the sub-committee continues to explore opportunities to streamline the release process, to reduce the administrative complexity and to enhance overall results.

In the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, the Government of Canada affirms it will conduct a review of resources at the Correctional Service of Canada healing lodge for Indigenous women with a view to identifying the capacity required to effectively address rehabilitation and intervention needs.

38. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in custody over the next decade.

What's happening?

Consultation and awareness

In March 2017, Justice Canada held a National Roundtable on the Overrepresentation of Indigenous Youth in the Criminal Justice System, bringing together experts in youth justice and Indigenous justice to explore factors that contribute to the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system.

In March 2019, 3 roundtables were held with Indigenous youth to discuss their experiences regarding how best to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system. The discussions and outcomes of the roundtable sessions were compiled into a concluding report posted on Justice Canada's Youth Justice website.

To support information sharing with professionals, a series of webinars were held featuring various guest speakers on topics related to the youth criminal justice system, such as:

  • culturally appropriate programming
  • restorative justice
  • supporting youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  • Gladue reports (a type of presentencing or bail hearing report)

Initiatives and policies

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has been working with federal, provincial and regional partners to increase the use of restorative justice and increase referrals to community and Indigenous (traditional) justice programs pre-charge. In 2019, the RCMP introduced mechanisms to track the number of restorative justice referrals and are working towards a 5% increase (in referrals) by the end of the 2022 to 2023 fiscal year.

Annual reporting

In May 2019, the first performance monitoring framework for the Canadian criminal justice system was released. 1 of the 9 outcomes included in the framework is that the criminal justice system reduces the number of Indigenous peoples in the system. A key indicator for this outcome is the proportion of Indigenous youth under correctional supervision. Results from this framework are available in an annual State of the Criminal Justice System Report and through the interactive State of the Criminal Justice System Dashboard.

Legislative amendments

A comprehensive set of amendments were made to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, through former Bill C-75: An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which came into force on December 18, 2019. It is anticipated that these proposed amendments will contribute to a reduction in the number of Indigenous youth being charged and incarcerated due to administration of justice offences.

The amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act aim to:

  • further encourage the use of alternatives to charges for administration of justice offences
  • ensure that the conditions imposed on a youth at bail stage or at sentencing are only those necessary to address the offending behavior and are required for criminal justice purposes
  • limit the use of custodial sentences for administration of justice offences
  • increase youth justice court efficiencies

Program funding

To better respond to the needs of Indigenous youth who are in conflict with the law, Justice Canada funds non-profit organizations, Indigenous organizations, provincial and territorial governments and others who work to improve the youth justice system. Justice Canada continues to invest in key flagship programs which support a reduction of Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system, including the:

In addition, Public Safety Canada's National Crime Prevention Strategy provides funding that supports innovative, culturally sensitive crime prevention projects. These projects support at-risk Indigenous youth, reduce offending and help build stronger, healthier communities.

Recent budget investments

In Budget 2021, the Government of Canada announced $216.4 million over 5 years, starting in 2021 to 2022, and $43.3 million ongoing for the Youth Justice Services Funding Program to:

  • increase funding to the provinces and territories in support of diversion programming
  • help reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples, Black Canadians and other racialized groups in the youth justice system

Recent progress

Initiatives and policies

In 2020, Justice Canada delivered training across the country to individuals who work in the Youth Criminal Justice System. This training was aimed at contextualizing the principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the amendments under the Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (the former Bill C-75).

As of April 2021, a total of $10.5 million in federal funding had been approved through the Youth Justice Fund to support multi-year pilot projects focusing on Indigenous youth or with a strong Indigenous component. An example of such projects is the Indigenous Youth-Centered Justice Project.

On March 2 2021, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announced the Government of Canada's support to Ryerson University for its National Indigenous Court Workers: Indigenous Youth-Centered Justice Project. The goal of this project is to improve outcomes for Indigenous youth who are involved in both the child welfare and youth criminal justice system. In partnership with Indigenous court workers in various parts of the country, the Indigenous Youth-Centered Justice Project will pilot innovative community-based projects over 5 years, in multiple jurisdictions. A total of nearly $2.5 million over 5 years is being provided in support to this project.

The Indigenous Youth-Centered Justice Project will conduct individual casework with Indigenous youth with both youth criminal justice and child welfare involvement. With the goal of reducing recidivism and the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the youth and mainstream criminal justice systems, this work will promote healing, reparation and reintegration of Indigenous youth offenders. Funding for this project will:

  • help reduce or eliminate custody for Indigenous youth
  • reduce time spent in the youth criminal justice system
  • prevent youth from moving to the adult system

Indigenous court workers already play a critical role as a bridge between the justice system and Indigenous peoples. As a result, they are ideally situated to help bring the child welfare and youth justice systems together to support Indigenous youth.

On March 17, 2021, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, joined by Member of Parliament for Winnipeg North announced the Government of Canada's support to New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families Inc. for their project: The Empower Project. This program, which enhances one established in 2015, supports especially vulnerable Indigenous young women who are justice-involved and diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

The Empower Project will provide intensive and individualized support for these young women and girls to increase their chance of successful rehabilitation. Programming will include culturally informed substance abuse counselling, family and mental health support, as well as skill-building, social and recreational activities. Justice Canada is providing approximately $587,000 over 4 years, from 2020 to 2023, to this project through the Youth Justice Fund.

The Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People to address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people reaffirms the Government of Canada's commitment to dismantle legislative barriers and improve access to justice and to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

Next steps

As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recognized, many of the ways to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth will be found outside of the criminal justice system. Work being undertaken in response to many other calls to action, such as those relating to child welfare, health services and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, will further contribute toward achieving Call to Action 38.

39. We call upon the federal government to develop a national plan to collect and publish data on the criminal victimization of Aboriginal people, including data related to homicide and family violence victimization.

What's happening?

Statistics Canada has taken a strategic approach to enhancing the extent of data collected and published on the victimization of Indigenous peoples through a series of activities which respond directly to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action 39.

Since 2014, police-reported homicide data on Indigenous peoples have been available through the Homicide Survey which collects information on the Indigenous identity of victims and offenders. Each year since then, with the exception of 2019, data included in the annual report on Crime Statistics in Canada, Statistics Canada's annual homicide report has included analysis of homicides of Indigenous women and girls. Consult the infographic on Homicide in Canada (2019.).

In the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (the federal pathway), the Government of Canada recognizes that it currently lacks the detailed statistical data that governments, public institutions, academics and advocates need to make fully informed, evidence-based policy decisions and effectively address racial and social inequities.

The Government of Canada is committed to implement a Disaggregated Data Action Plan to fill data and knowledge gaps, such as through Indigenous-led data strategies for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. There will also be funding for improved collection and use of disaggregated data as part of ongoing efforts to address this issue.

Data can be accessed by the public through standard tables available on the Statistics Canada website or through custom requests. Data are integrated in relevant reports such as Statistics Canada's annual statistical report on family violence. Access to this information enables communities and those working in the criminal justice system to better understand and address the issues related to homicide victimization.

Standard tables:

Statistics Canada has expanded its other justice-related work to include information on Indigenous identity. The new Survey of Residential Facilities for Victims of Abuse, first launched in spring 2018, collects information on the use of these facilities by Indigenous women and children and on services for Indigenous populations. This survey and analysis is partially funded by Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

First results were published in April 2019: Canadian residential facilities for victims of abuse, 2017/2018, followed by an analysis in July 2020: Shelters for victims of abuse with ties to Indigenous communities or organizations in Canada, 2017/2018, highlighting results on facilities that have ties to Indigenous communities or organizations in Canada. This latter report was funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada.

Statistics Canada's General Social Survey on victimization, conducted every 5 years, responds to data needs by collecting information on victimization, whether it was reported to the police or not. The 2019 General Social Survey selected sample included First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations. Additional funding was provided by Indigenous Services Canada and Public Safety Canada to oversample areas with greater Indigenous populations.

In partnership with Women and Gender Equality Canada, Statistics Canada developed the 2018 Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces that provides a national measure of gender-based violence. In developing the survey, Women and Gender Equality Canada consulted with Pauktuutit Women of Canada, National Association of Friendship Centres and Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. This sample survey included First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations.

This information provides insight into the impact of lifetime prevalence of physical and sexual violence among the Indigenous population in Canada, among other topics. Provincial and territorial results from this survey were released in 2019 and 2020 along with some accompanying standard tables presenting more specific results on victimization of Indigenous peoples:

Recent progress

On July 15, 2020, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police released a joint statement committing to work with Canada's policing community and key organizations to enable police to report statistics on Indigenous identity in police reported crime statistics on victims.

Statistics Canada and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police know that the demand for more disaggregated information has never been greater than now and are committed to identifying ways to provide reliable police statistics on the Indigenous population.

In the federal pathway, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police commits to taking steps to combat systemic racism through the collecting, analyzing and reporting of race-based data, amongst other measures. This includes establishing national standards regarding missing persons reports and improving the collection and use of disaggregated data to address the over-representation of Indigenous victims, survivors and offenders in the criminal justice system and experiences with police, courts and correctional services.

Next steps

The last cycle of the Survey of Residential Facilities for Victims of Abuse was launched in the spring of 2021. The Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces will be repeated every 5 years and consultations for the next iteration are starting in the spring of 2021.

Statistics Canada is working on an engagement strategy through which discussions with Indigenous peoples and organizations will be taking place starting in the spring of 2021 to ensure the information that will be collected through the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey is relevant and meets the needs of the communities.

To consult the results from the 2019 General Social Survey on Victimization, visit:

40. We call on all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, to create adequately funded and accessible Aboriginal-specific victim programs and services with appropriate evaluation mechanisms.

What's happening?

The Government of Canada is committed to working with partners, including provincial and territorial governments and community agencies and organizations, to increase access to justice for victims and survivors of crime and give them a more effective voice in the criminal justice system.

Since 2016, Justice Canada has made funding and policy support available to provincial and territorial governments to support the design and delivery of Family Information Liaison Units. These units ensure that family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people have a culturally-grounded and trauma-informed team to:

  • assist them in accessing the information they are seeking about their loved one (held in agencies across sectors and jurisdictions)
  • help them navigate the criminal justice system

Family Information Liaison Units were established with input from Indigenous family members and organizations in the jurisdiction in which they operate and many are co-delivered in partnership with Indigenous organizations that have the knowledge and expertise in how best to support family members in their community.

Funding for Family Information Liaison Units was renewed to March 2023. The Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (federal pathway) reaffirms the Government of Canada's commitment to enhance culturally safe supports for victims and families.

Justice Canada also supports community-led support and assistance for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Funding is available to Indigenous community organizations, who have the expertise and knowledge about how best to support family members, to deliver culturally-grounded grief and trauma support.

Building on the critical work that Indigenous organizations have been advancing in support of families for decades, this funding supports the design and delivery of specialized services and activities, such as:

  • healing circles
  • sharing circles
  • cultural ceremonies and sweats
  • trauma and grief workshops on loss
  • family gatherings
  • community events at sacred sites
  • individual and group counselling with Elders and western based counsellors

These local and regional community-based supports for families work closely with Family Information Liaison Units.

All projects include an evaluation component to ensure services are meeting the needs of victims, survivors and family members of missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls. In addition, Justice Canada has been seeking opportunities to increase awareness about, and understanding of, Indigenous evaluation methodologies and recently completed a report on the subject: Exploring Indigenous Approaches to Evaluation and Research in the Context of Victim Services and Supports.

Through Indigenous Services Canada, the government is also committed to ensuring the safety and security of Indigenous women, children, families and 2SLGBTQQIA+ by providing funding to support Indigenous-based programs and services for those facing or experiencing gender-based violence.

Currently, Indigenous Services Canada's Family Violence Prevention Program supports the day-to-day operations of 46 shelters, as well as provides funding for community-driven proposals for family violence prevention projects on and off-reserve. These shelters in First Nations communities across Canada provide a vital refuge for Indigenous women, children and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people escaping violence. They also provide culturally sensitive and relevant services that help provide families and communities with the tools needed to address or prevent violence.

On November 30, 2020, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $724.1 million for a Comprehensive Violence Prevention Strategy to improve the safety and security of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. This Strategy supports the construction and operation of additional emergency shelters and new Indigenous-led second stage (transition) houses across Canada, including in the North and in urban centres. It also expands upon existing violence prevention activities funded through the Family Violence Prevention Program.

The strategy addresses a number of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls' Calls for Justice including the need for more safe housing options including shelters, second stage (transition) houses and violence prevention and awareness activities wherever Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people reside. It is a concrete initiative in the Government of Canada's Federal Pathway to Address Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People.

Similar to the work being done at Justice Canada, the Family Violence and Prevention Program possesses an evaluation component to ensure programs and services supported by its funding are meeting the needs of individuals facing or experiencing gender-based violence, including tracking the percentage of:

  • requests for overnight residence in shelters by First Nation women on reserve that are met
  • communities with family violence prevention programming

Nevertheless, the Family Violence and Prevention Program will be reviewing and updating these evaluation measures to ensure they better capture and reflect the needs of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people now and into the future.

Recent budget investments

Funding for community-based organizations to provide supports and services to families was renewed to March 2023. Over 3 years, Family Information Liaison Units and community-based programs will receive $21.5 million.

The Government of Canada announced $724.1 million to launch a Comprehensive Violence Prevention Strategy to expand access to a continuum of culturally relevant supports for Indigenous women, children and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people facing gender-based violence in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement.

In January 2021, the Government of Canada committed to fund the construction and operations of shelters for Inuit women and children across Inuit Nunangat as well as in Urban Centres. The Inuit-specific shelters will be funded through the Comprehensive Violence Prevention Strategy.

In May 2020, the Government of Canada announced that $44.8 million is being allocated to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation over 5 years for the construction of 12 new shelters, including 10 for First Nations communities and 2 in the territories.

In addition, $40.8 million was allocated to Indigenous Services Canada to support operational costs for the new shelters over the first 5 years and $10.2 million annually thereafter. This new construction will bring the total number of shelters in Indigenous Services Canada's network to 58.

This funding is in addition to the $10 million announced in April 2020 for First Nations shelters to prevent and manage a COVID-19 outbreak in their facilities. An additional $690,000 is being provided to the existing 46 shelters for minor capital repairs to meet the public health requirements.

Recent progress

While there has not yet been a formal evaluation, these initiatives have sought to support the design and delivery of Indigenous-led or Indigenous-informed services and programs for family members of missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls that are focused on:

  • reducing isolation
  • increasing opportunities for family-centered healing ceremonies
  • increasing access to information

The federal pathway recognizes that the Government of Canada currently lacks the detailed statistical data that governments, public institutions, academics and advocates need to make fully informed, evidence-based policy decisions and effectively address racial and social inequities.

The Government of Canada is committed to implement a Disaggregated Data Action Plan to fill data and knowledge gaps, such as through Indigenous-led data strategies for First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

There will also be funding for improved collection and use of disaggregated data as part of ongoing efforts to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples and racialized groups in the justice system and funding for academic research into systemic barriers facing diverse groups.

As indicated within the 2021 to 2022 Departmental Plan for Indigenous Services Canada, the Family Violence Prevention Program will redevelop its data collection instrument to integrate distinctions-based and Gender-Based Analysis Plus lenses into its data collection process to better capture and report on the needs of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

Next steps

The federal pathway commits to seeking new opportunities to increase collaboration with Indigenous partners and organizations and with provincial and territorial partners to improve availability and access to Indigenous-led, culturally safe and trauma-informed victim services and supports.

The Government of Canada will continue to:

  • build on the success of the Family Information Liaison Units to ensure timely support to families
  • support families and survivors through project-based programming and providing community-based, culturally relevant and trauma-informed wellness services

Like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls highlighted many findings related to the nature and accessibility of victim services and survivor supports. The final report included calls for justice to move forward, informed by the 4 pathways to violence that the commission identified.

The 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (national action plan) was released in June 2021, including the federal pathway, the Government of Canada's contribution to the national action plan.

Moving forward, as noted in the federal pathway, Justice Canada will seek new opportunities to increase collaboration with Indigenous partners and organizations and with provincial and territorial partners to improve availability and access to Indigenous-led, culturally safe and trauma-informed victim services and supports.

We will continue to build on the success of the Family Information Liaison Units to ensure timely support to families as well as continue to support families and survivors through project-based programming and providing community-based, culturally relevant and trauma-informed wellness services.

41. We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal organizations, to appoint a public inquiry into the causes of, and remedies for, the disproportionate victimization of Aboriginal women and girls. The inquiry's mandate would include:

  1. Investigation into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls
  2. Links to the intergenerational legacy of residential schools

What's happening?

The Commission of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls delivered its final report Reclaiming Power and Place, on June 3, 2019. This included 2,386 participants in its Truth Gathering Process, many of whom were Survivors of the residential school system.

The report provides over 231 calls for justice directed at all levels of government, various service-delivery organizations and the Canadian public to help address violence towards Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

In response to the final report's recommendations, on June 3, 2021, the Government of Canada, along with its many Indigenous, provincial, territorial and municipal partners, released the 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (national action plan) that addresses the root causes for violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

As one part of the national action plan, the Government of Canada developed the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (federal pathway), which outlines the Government of Canada's commitments to end violence against Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

For more information on investments, programs and initiatives launched to date, please visit the federal pathway website.

42. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to the recognition and implementation of Aboriginal justice systems in a manner consistent with the Treaty and Aboriginal rights of Aboriginal peoples, the Constitution Act, 1982, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada in November 2012.

What's happening?

On May 10, 2016, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs announced that the Government of Canada is a full supporter, without qualification, of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples. The announcement also reaffirmed Canada's commitment to adopt and implement the declaration in accordance with the Canadian Constitution.

Justice Canada has been participating in the Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination discussions tables led by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to enable a discussion with several Indigenous communities on administration of justice arrangements.

In addition, the Government of Canada continues to negotiate administration of justice elements within comprehensive self-government agreements.

In December 2020, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, setting out a framework for federal implementation of the declaration. The bill was passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent on June 21, 2021. The declaration provides a roadmap for the federal government and Indigenous peoples to work together to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Recent budget investments

The Fall Economic Statement 2020 announcement under the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Priority supports the continuing work of Justice Canada to engage with Indigenous communities to ensure a greater role for them in administration, enforcement, prosecution and adjudication of their laws arising from the Indian Act, other federal legislation, or based on other sources.

The goal of these exploratory discussions with Indigenous communities is for the development of stand-alone (sectoral) administration of justice agreements outside the context of comprehensive agreements or treaties to strengthen community-based justice systems and support self-determination.

In the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, the Government of Canada commits to continue to negotiate administration of justice agreements with Indigenous communities to:

  • strengthen community-based justice systems
  • support self-determination
  • provide alternatives to the mainstream justice system

Recent progress

Tables have been established with several Indigenous groups to explore administration of justice agreements.

Next steps

Discussions will continue to move towards developing final agreements.

Related links

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