Addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system in Nunatsiavut
From: Department of Justice Canada
January 19, 2023
Advancing reconciliation requires supporting culturally appropriate, Indigenous-led and community-based justice services, and building policies informed by the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples. These are key to achieving systemic change in our justice system.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Gary Anandasangaree, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Johannes Lampe, President of Nunatsiavut, announced funding to help address the overrepresentation of Inuit in the justice system within the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area.
With these investments, the Nunatisavut Government will implement new measures and continue delivering key culturally appropriate, community-based justice services to Labrador Inuit.
Justice Canada is providing over $1.16 million through its Indigenous Justice Program to support the Nunatsiavut Government’s efforts to address the overrepresentation of Inuit in the justice system. This includes:
- Inuit Cultural Awareness Educator: $193,378 over four years for the creation of a new Inuit Cultural Awareness Educator, to increase knowledge and understanding of criminal justice professionals regarding the root causes of Indigenous overrepresentation in the criminal justice system and of community-led options for addressing crime
- Nunatsiavut Government’s Family Violence Prevention Program: $28,500 in capacity-building funding to ensure the availability of trained resources to deal with prevention and intervention of family violence in Inuit communities in Labrador
- Engagement on the Indigenous Justice Strategy: $400,000 over three years to support Inuit-led engagement to inform the development of an Indigenous Justice Strategy
- Community-based justice services: $547,609 over six years to support the continued work of the Nunatsiavut Government to increase access to community-based justice services
Addressing the systemic factors that contribute to the overrepresentation of Indigenous people, as well as systemic racism in the justice system is part of the commitments outlined in the 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan and the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People. Today’s announcement also supports Canada’s efforts to advance reconciliation in Canada and respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC) Calls to Action. These investments are also aligned with the guiding principles of the Inuit Nunangat Policy.
“Inuit-led justice services are integral in addressing the overrepresentation of Inuit in Newfoundland and Labrador’s justice system. The culturally relevant services and programs implemented by the Nunatsiavut Government are crucial in transforming Labrador Inuit’s navigation of the justice system. On behalf of the Nunatsiavut Government, I would like to thank Justice Canada for funding these initiatives, which will serve as first steps towards addressing the systemic racism, as well as other factors, which contribute to Indigenous people’s overrepresentation in Canada’s justice system.”
President of Nunatsiavut
“Indigenous people are alarmingly overrepresented in Canada’s justice system. By providing support for community-based Indigenous justice services as well as Indigenous-led engagement on the development of an Indigenous Justice Strategy, we are helping bring systemic change to address this unacceptable reality. The Nunatsiavut Government’s work is an important part of a national effort to address systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples, and improve access to justice and fairness in our justice system.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“Collaboration and partnership with Indigenous organizations is critical to advancing reconciliation and transforming the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the justice system. The Nunatsiavut Government is a vital partner in these efforts and in creating healthier, vibrant and safer Labrador Inuit communities.”
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
- In 2020-21, Indigenous people represented 32 per cent of those in federal prisons, but only accounted for 5 per cent of the general population. (Sources: Office of the Correctional Investigator, Statistics Canada’s Population and Demography Statistics).
- In support of the broader efforts to root out systemic racism throughout Canadian society and foster a safer and fairer future for all Canadians, the Government of Canada enacted changes to contribute to making our criminal justice system fairer and more effective without undermining public safety. On November 17, 2022, former Bill C-5 received Royal Assent and came into force, repealing certain mandatory minimum penalties that have most contributed to the overincarceration of Indigenous, Black, racialized, and marginalized people, increasing the availability of conditional sentence orders (commonly refered to as house arrest) where appropriate, and encouraging the greater use of diversion programs for simple possession of drugs.
- The Indigenous Justice Program (IJP) supports Indigenous community-based justice programs that offer alternatives to mainstream justice processes in appropriate circumstances. These programs can work at any point along the justice continuum, including prevention, diversion and reintegration. The IJP:
- assists Indigenous peoples to assume greater responsibility for the administration of justice in their communities;
- reflects and includes Indigenous values within the justice system; and
- contributes to a decrease in the rates of victimization, crime and incarceration among Indigenous peoples in communities with community-based justice programs supported by the IJP.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Department of Justice Canada