Aboriginal Community Justice Programs
As part of Ontario's New Approach to Aboriginal Affairs, the province supports a variety of programs that help Aboriginal people take responsibility for the administration of justice in their communities.
The province is committed to working with the Aboriginal community to develop an Aboriginal Justice Strategy to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system. Aboriginal Community Justice programs, funded by Ontario and the federal government, allow local communities to offer culturally appropriate ways to help Aboriginal people deal with the criminal justice system.
The programs increase Aboriginal involvement in the administration of justice, help to reduce criminal offending and victimization in Aboriginal communities and provide an opportunity for offenders to understand and make amends for the consequences of their behaviour in ways that are appropriate and meaningful.
Ontario currently supports 11 Aboriginal community justice programs in 23 communities across the province:
Community Council Program - Toronto
Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto (ALST) operates a Community Council program that offers counseling for adult and youth Aboriginal offenders who live in the Greater Toronto Area. This program takes Aboriginal offenders out of the criminal justice system and makes them accountable to the community. Council members represent a cross-section of Toronto's Aboriginal community, and together they develop plans that allow offenders to take responsibility for their actions, address the root causes of the problem and help them rejoin the community in a positive way. ALST also offers courtworkers to help Aboriginal accused persons, victims and witnesses understand their rights, responsibilities and options under the law and obtain fair, equitable and culturally sensitive treatment from the courts.
Gladue Services - Toronto
Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto provides specialized "Gladue" reports to the court with information on the unique circumstances of Aboriginal offenders. The court can take these reports into account during sentencing. Ontario's support pays for four caseworkers, two aftercare workers, administration and a satellite office in Brantford and Guelph. Services are offered at courts in the Greater Toronto Area,Brantford, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Cambridge. Part of the provincial funding for this program comes from Legal Aid Ontario. Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto also provides courtworkers to help Aboriginal accused persons, victims and witnesses in the Greater Toronto Area understand their rights, responsibilities and options under the law and obtain fair, equitable and culturally sensitive treatment from the courts.
Biidaaban - The Mnjikaning Community Healing Model - Rama First Nation
Biidaaban is a community-based healing model and restorative justice program for Aboriginal adults and youth charged with crimes such as assault, breaking and entering and impaired driving. Healing circles, which can include the offender and victim, team counsellors, family, supporters and community members help to repair relationships and create a safer community.
Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres Community Justice Programs - Geraldton, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ottawa, Kenora and London
The Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres offers community justice programs in several communities. These programs are available to Aboriginal youth and adults in conflict with the law as an alternative to the formal court system. Offenders are given the chance to understand and address the consequences of their actions. There are also courtworkers to help Aboriginal accused persons, victims and witnesses understand their rights, responsibilities and options under the law and obtain fair, equitable and culturally sensitive treatment from the courts.
United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Justice Program - Manitoulin Island
The United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin (UCCM) provides pre-and post-charge direct accountability programming based on the traditional Anishnaabe beliefs of prevention, accountability, making amends and healing. They also offer the three-part Zoongaabwe-od Eshniigjik program for young people aged 12 to 25. This program features teaching circles, workshops and culture and community involvement. The UCCM programs serve a population of over 10,000.
Aboriginal Community Council Program - Thunder Bay
The Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre operates a direct accountability program for youth and adults. Accused individuals enter into a healing and wellness program and must meet culturally appropriate conditions to complete the program. A justice circle is used to bring the accused, the victim and council members together to identify and address the root problems of the actions holistically and realistically.
Saa Sii Tonitiwin - Whitefish Bay
Operating on Whitefish Bay First Nation, the Saa Sii Tonitiwin Justice Program offers an alternative system of resolving conflicts. The program employs a holistic approach to dispute resolution that addresses the unique issues of each individual offender and seeks to help them in the healing process. The program also contributes to community healing by focussing on the relationships between the offender, victim and their families.
Grand Council Treaty #3 - Grassy Narrows, Lac Seul, Naicatchewenin and Onigaming First Nations
The Treaty #3 Community Justice Project uses a community-driven justice approach to find ways to make the accused accountable for their actions and increase community involvement and safety. This program serves four Treaty #3 First Nations. Its goal is to use counseling before and after charges are laid to reduce the number of its members involved in the criminal justice system while addressing the root causes of their actions.
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne - Akwesasne
The Akwesasne Community Justice Program encourages Mohawk offenders to accept responsibility for their conduct both on and off reserve. It promotes offender accountability and helps to address the underlying problems which may have led to their conflict with the justice system. This program also includes an Akwesasne Courtworker initiative. Courtworkers help to ensure that members of the Mohawks of Akwesasne who are accused, victims or witnesses understand their rights, responsibilities and options under the law and obtain fair, equitable and culturally sensitive treatment from the courts.
Sagamok Anishnawbek - Sagamok
The Sagamok Community Justice Program provides Aboriginal adults and youth in the criminal justice system with access to pre- and post-charge direct accountability programs which help them take responsibility for their actions. Offenders are required to make direct amends to their victims and the community, as well as receive cultural and healing supports that help to reduce the risk of re-offending.
Enaahtig Healing Lodge and Learning Centre - Victoria Harbour (Simcoe County)
The Enaahtig Healing Lodge and Learning Centre provides direct accountability program services to First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Simcoe County. Through this program offenders are held accountable for their actions and required to make direct amends to the victim and the community. Offenders are given support throughout their involvement in the justice system and have access to services designed to address underlying issues or needs that may have lead to their involvement with the justice system.