Engaging with Indigenous partners to address systemic discrimination and overrepresentation in the Canadian justice system
November 1, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario, Traditional Algonquin Territory – Department of Justice Canada
The overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system is a serious and complex issue rooted in systemic racism and the legacy of colonialism. The Government of Canada is committed to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and to developing, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous partners, provinces, and territories, an Indigenous Justice Strategy (IJS) that is informed by the lived experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the launch of engagement efforts led by Justice Canada to inform the development of the IJS. To start this process in the right way, the inaugural dialogue session was held with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Elders and Knowledge-Keepers from across Canada.
In the spirit of reconciliation, and out of respect for Indigenous rights to self-determination, Justice Canada recognizes that an IJS must be developed in partnership and collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Engagement on the IJS is intended to be broad and inclusive, with participation from: First Nations, Inuit and Métis rights holders, including modern treaty signatories, self-governing nations and historic treaty partners, as well as national and regional Indigenous representative organizations, communities and individuals.
Justice Canada will also be engaging with Indigenous women, youth, Elders, persons with disabilities, and 2SLGBTQI+ persons, as well as urban and other Indigenous organizations and groups and justice system practitioners, along with representatives of the provinces and territories.
These engagement efforts will take place in the form of dialogue sessions and online engagement opportunities. Information about next steps for the development of the IJS is available on Justice Canada’s IJS webpage. Individuals and organizations can also register to participate in dialogue sessions, participate in online engagement activities and submit feedback through the IJS online engagement platform.
Justice Canada’s engagement with partners will complement Indigenous-led engagement already underway to inform the development of the IJS. Following a call for proposals held in December 2021, Justice Canada provided $11 million in funding to 38 Indigenous groups to support Indigenous-led engagement until March 2024. This funding was provided through Budget 2021, which committed investments to support Indigenous-led engagement, as well as collaboration between Indigenous groups and the Government of Canada.
Working closely with Indigenous partners as well as provinces and territories on the development of the IJS is an opportunity to inform the creation of a framework that will respect and recognize the rights, cultures and traditions of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
“The Indigenous Justice Strategy needs to reflect the specific realities and barriers faced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis if we are to address systemic racism experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada’s justice system. This engagement will support collaborative development of an Indigenous Justice Strategy, which will be crucial in addressing systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples. I look forward to our discussions with Indigenous leaders and communities and to seeing the results of our engagement efforts.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., K.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
The release and implementation of the IJS will only occur once Justice Canada-led and Indigenous-led engagement efforts are concluded in 2024.
In January 2021, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada was mandated with developing, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous partners, provinces and territories, an Indigenous Justice Strategy to address systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a framework for reconciliation, healing and peace, as well as harmonious and cooperative relations based on the principles of justice, democracy and respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith. It is in the spirit of these principles that Justice Canada is engaging and working in partnership with Indigenous partners and communities to develop the Indigenous Justice Strategy.
Addressing the systemic factors that contribute to the overrepresentation of Indigenous people, as well as systemic racism in the criminal 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. The development of the IJS also supports the Government of Canada’s efforts to advance reconciliation in Canada and respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
- Indigenous Justice Strategy
- Indigenous Justice Strategy online engagement platform
- Call for proposals: Indigenous Justice Strategy Engagement Funding (now closed)
- Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience
- Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
- Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People
- 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People
- Indigenous Justice, Recognition and Reconciliation
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Department of Justice Canada
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