First Nations, Métis and Inuit face higher rates of criminal victimization than non-Indigenous people.
Trauma resulting from colonialism, systemic racism, and deeply rooted social and economic challenges have made Indigenous people more likely to be the victims of crime.
Indigenous people are twice as likely as others to experience a problem with the criminal justice system.
This is the case even after controlling for other factors, such as age, gender, and income.
One-third of Indigenous people report experiencing discrimination.
15% of Indigenous people who experience discrimination are reported to be victims of a violent crime.
Indigenous people are about twice as likely than non-Indigenous people to mistrust their local police service.
The differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in this regard are greatest in Saskatchewan and in the territories.
Historically, Canada’s justice system has not served First Nations well. Recent events highlight First Nations’ over-representation in the justice system, systemic racism, over-policing, and experiences with police misconduct.
For many years, systemic discrimination and racial bias has attributed to increased interactions with the criminal justice system, leading to the overrepresentation of First Nations people in prisons. According to the Correctional Investigator of Canada, First Nations custody rates have accelerated while the overall inmate population has declined. Furthermore, many First Nations do not find justice as victims of crime.
Concerns raised in the 2018 Gerald Stanley regarding inter alia, the jury selection process which prevented First Nations from sitting as a jury member, is representative of the larger problem within Canada’s justice system that needs to be corrected. Several commissions inquiries such as the 1991 Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, the TRC and MMIWG Inquiry confirmed this and have made hundreds of recommendations for systemic reforms.
With calls to action from both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the AFN’s Justice and Policing seeks to address the systemic discrimination of First Nations people, over-representation of First Nations in the corrections system, and to rebuild First Nations Justice systems under their own customary laws and traditions.
First Nations Policing as an Essential Service
At the Annual General Assembly (AGA) in July 2021, Chiefs-in-Assembly passed Resolution 07/2021, Creation and Implementation of Legislation for First Nations Policing as an Essential Service. This resolution directed the AFN to advocate for the equitable treatment of First Nations police services through the development of a First Nations policing legislative framework.
Our goal at the AFN is to ensure that First Nations police get the funding, resources, infrastructure, and personnel they have not been able to access under the FNPP. The AFN will continue to advocate toward the development of a new federal legislative framework that would provide equitable funding and resources for First Nations policing services.
National First Nations Policing Forum
The National First Nations Policing Forum brings together First Nations people to discuss policing and justice reform, considerations for legislation for First Nations policing as an essential service, how to address systemic racism in Canada’s law enforcement and justice systems, and the status of applicable National Inquiry Calls to Justice and Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.
Held in March of 2021, the first annual National Forum on Policing and Justice centered on topics including public safety and First Nations, the meaning of ‘essential services’ in terms of First Nations Policing, and the challenges of the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program (FNIPP).
Overarching themes included:
- Infrastructure and Personnel
This initial National Forum was beneficial for gaining an understanding of the many struggles and complexities related to First Nations Policing. Concerns brought forward included chronic underfunding of the FNIPP which has a trickle-down effect with many adverse consequences for entire communities. The forum surfaced frustration with the way policing agreements are negotiated, a lack of oversight, and a number jurisdictional issues.
The second annual First Nations Policing Forum sought to build upon the many challenges brought forward in 2021 and work towards solutions. More emphasis was placed on engagement, using themed facilitated discussion sessions.
For a detailed overview of the National First Nations Policing Forum and outcomes please read our Forum Report.
First Nations Justice Strategy
The Government of Canada has been tasked with reforming Canada’s current justice system and Chiefs-in-Assembly have mandated AFN to support the development, implementation, and administration of First Nations justice systems pursuant to their traditional customs and laws.
A First Nations component of the federal government’s Indigenous Justice Strategy must address systemic discrimination and over-representation of First Nations people in the justice system and assist First Nations in the reclamation of their traditional legal and justice systems. The Chiefs-in-Assembly have appointed a Chiefs Committee on Justice to provide advice and direction on matters relating to justice reform and reclamation of First Nations justice systems, legal traditions, and customary laws.
The AFN is actively working on carrying out engagement on a National First Nations Justice Strategy.
National Forum on Restorative Justice
The AFN held its first National Forum on Justice in April 2022. One of the key objectives of the forum was to redirect the conversation away from conventional notions of restorative justice to the reclamation of First Nations legal traditions and laws. Traditionally, restorative justice encompasses programs that are used to address overrepresentation in a piecemeal way, often only coming into play once a First Nations person has already been involved in the justice system.
The Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action specifically speak to the need for revitalization of Indigenous legal traditions as a way of addressing the legacy of Residential Schools and the overrepresentation of First Nations Peoples in the justice system. Therefore, rather than focusing solely on programs such as sentencing circles and Gladue reports, there is a need for a comprehensive rethinking of restorative justice, based on the reclamation of First Nations legal traditions and laws as a holistic way of addressing overrepresentation.
Self-determination and self-governance for First Nations Peoples is an integral aspect to supporting the restoration and reclamation of First Nations justice systems.
For a detailed overview of the National Forum on Restorative Justice and outcomes please read our Forum Report.
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Media Advisory: AFN National Chief to hold Press Conference highlighting Indigenous priorities in Canada
We champion systems that promote justice, safety and security for First Nations peoples and communities.Decades of studies into policing and justice show that First Nations people are over-represented in the justice system. They suffer more systemic racism, over-policing, and experiences with…