ABORIGINAL JUSTICE STRATEGY
ANNUAL ACTIVITIES REPORT
2. AJS Resources and Activities: April 2002 –
March 2005 (continued)
Training and Development
The 2000 AJS evaluation identified that training and development of community-based justice program providers are critical to the growth, success and sustainability of the programs. Training is required during program development and implementation, and is also important later as programs evolve and as staff turns over. As a result, when the AJS was renewed for a second term, its mandate included a new Training and Development (T&D) Fund.
The T&D Fund supports training activities designed to build capacity in the community to develop and deliver justice programs, especially in communities that do not have AJS-funded programs in place. More specifically, the objectives of the fund are to:
- address the training and/or developmental needs of Aboriginal communities that do not have AJS-funded community-based programs;
- supplement the training needs of existing AJS-funded programs where cost-shared program funds do not adequately meet requirements;
- support the development of new programs, with attention to geographic/regional imbalances in programming and to the commitment to develop programs in the under-used program models such as family mediation;
- support the role of women and victims in restorative justice initiatives;
- support one-time or annual events and initiatives that build bridges, trust and partnerships between the mainstream justice system and Aboriginal communities; and
- support evaluation activities.
In 2002-03, the first fiscal year of the T&D fund, 25 training and development initiatives were funded. Job training for community justice workers was funded, including training in conflict resolution, mediation and substance abuse screening. Funding was also provided to develop program evaluation frameworks and tools.
In 2003-04, government-wide budget reallocations reduced the T&D Fund by 50%. Limited training dollars in that fiscal year were targeted at existing AJS-funded programs. Generally, the reduced budget provided for the funding of one workshop in each Province, Territory or Region (e.g. Atlantic Provinces) to which representatives of funded programs were invited. The workshops offered training on such diverse topics as program management, forming justice committees, recruiting/retaining volunteers, and dealing with special-needs clients. The workshops also created opportunities for attendees to network with and learn from other program providers.
Full funding was restored to the T&D Fund in late 2004-05. By that time, jurisdiction-wide workshops, similar to those sponsored during the previous fiscal year, had already been arranged or conducted. Still, the return of funding allowed for training initiatives in that fiscal year that could not have been supported the year before.
As Table 3-1 identifies, although budget reductions and uncertainties constrained implementation of the T&D Fund as originally envisioned, much was accomplished within the limits of resources. Since introduction of the Fund in 2002-03, the AJD has entered into 75 Training and Development agreements in support of programs that serve or will serve hundreds of communities across Canada. The agreements have funded such activities as conferences, workshops, seminars, strategic planning sessions, and a variety of other training initiatives tailored to needs identified by individual program providers.
|# of AJS T&D Agreements||26||17||32||75|
|# Agreements Directed at Training for New Programs*||5||4||6||15|
|# Communities Served by Training||193||191||245||629|
|Total AJS T&D Funding||$652,175||$358,663||$490,055||$1,500,893|
Source: AJD Files
* Other training agreements/activities were directed at existing programs.
AJD lawyers provide legal and policy advice to federal negotiators on the “administration of justice” component of self-government negotiations and agreements. At the end of 2004-05, AJD legal counsel was active at 13 self-government tables across Canada. The AJS does not provide funding support to self-government negotiations.
The Self-Government Capacity Building Fund was created when the AJS mandate was renewed in 2001. The fund, administered by the AJD in consultation with INAC, supports the development of pilot projects and resource material designed to build self-government capacity and to develop models for the administration and enforcement of Aboriginal laws.
- More specifically, the objectives of the fund are:
- to develop and disseminate information to Aboriginal communities about effective approaches to the administration and enforcement of laws;
- to assist Aboriginal governments to build capacity to develop, administer and enforce their own laws;
- to assist Aboriginal communities to understand the civil and regulatory aspects of the Canadian justice system.
In 2004-05, the AJS approved the first two projects under the Self-Government Capacity Building Fund:
The Federation of Saskatchewan of Indian Nations (FSIN) Project: the project involved consultation with First Nations and Aboriginal communities province-wide to make them aware of, and to have them identify priorities among, the recommendations of the Saskatchewan Commission on First Nations and Métis Peoples and Justice Reform. Consultation results were captured in a March 2005 report, Recommendations of the Justice Reform Commission and Review of First Nations Community Focus Sessions, and will inform an FSIN Work Plan that addresses implementation issues in collaboration with the federal and Saskatchewan governments. The FSIN project assisted in the dissemination of information about effective approaches to the administration and enforcement of laws;
The Union of Ontario Indians Project (UOI): the project is designed to enhance the capacity of the UOI to adjudicate matters arising under its regulatory and civil laws, especially in relation to appeal and redress mechanisms. The project will help the UOI to be ready when its Self-Government Agreement comes into force.
There are a number of reasons why there have been so few projects supported by the Self-Government Capacity Building Fund since its establishment in 2002-03:
- at both negotiation and implementation stages, the progress of self-government initiatives has been impeded by complex policy issues regarding fiscal sustainability. Given the elemental nature of those macro issues, and the uncertainty surrounding their resolution, interest in capacity-building activities has not been as strong as expected or as it may become later;
- two First Nations that were encouraged to submit proposals in 2003 and 2004 lacked the resources necessary to prepare submissions sufficient in detail to be capable of assessment against and approval under funding criteria;
- although the “administration of justice” component of self-government agreements remains an essential element of governance under the Inherent Right Policy, many negotiations have focused on other programs and services such as land management, education, language and culture. Thus, capacity building in relation to the administration and enforcement of laws has not presented as a priority.
Aboriginal Justice Learning Network
Mandate and Organizational Design
Established in 1996 as part of the AJS, the AJLN was to be a broad-based volunteer network of Aboriginal community representatives, community justice workers, justice professionals, and federal/provincial/territorial government officials who would support the AJS by developing and sharing information about and best practices in alternative restorative justice processes consistent with Aboriginal values and traditions. Through education and awareness-building, the efforts of the AJLN were intended to induce sustainable, culturally relevant change in justice services for Aboriginal peoples.
The mandate of the AJLN has been to:
- act as a vehicle of communication between the justice system and Aboriginal communities;
- help ensure that Aboriginal women participate as full partners during negotiation and implementation of community justice programs;
- train enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and members of Aboriginal communities in the objectives, values and mechanics of the community justice programs delivered under AJS-funded agreements; and
- help participating communities and the justice system implement community-based justice programs, with a focus on ensuring that the new approaches are fully integrated into the day-to-day operation of the mainstream justice system.
To date, the AJLN has endeavoured to fulfill its mandate in three ways:
- by connecting stakeholders across Canada with each other and with information – about best practices, lessons learned and developments in the field – through the AJLN web site and its on-line newsletter, LINK;
- by amassing and making available on request free resources, including print material and videos, on a variety of Aboriginal justice issues with an emphasis on community-based justice programs and similar initiatives; and
- by funding innovative short-term projects that encourage development of community-based justice programs, and that enhance knowledge of and access to the justice system among Aboriginal people.
Organizationally, three bodies have worked together to help the AJLN fulfill its mandate:
- a 14-member AJLN Advisory Committee was intended to provide advice to the Deputy Minister of Justice and to the AJLN on proposed activities, the communications strategy, and the use of financial and human resources. Advisory Committee members include Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians from a variety of backgrounds, including community workers, judges, lawyers, police officers and youth;
- an Elders’ Panel offers wisdom, experience, knowledge and spiritual guidance to the Advisory Committee and to the AJLN;
- the National Coordinator’s Office, in the AJD in Ottawa, has been the information dissemination centre, and liaison among the Advisory Committee, the broader AJLN and the AJD.
AJLN Activities: April 2002 – March 2005
Outreach and Partnership
A major activity undertaken by the AJS during the reporting period was its financial contribution to the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation’s (NAAF) Taking Pulse “Industry in the Classroom” series. In May 2001, the NAAF launched Taking Pulse, an initiative designed to increase educational opportunities for and workforce participation of Aboriginal people. In 2003, together with corporate Chief Executive Officers, Aboriginal leaders, government officials, educators and youth from across Canada, the AJD participated in a Taking Pulse conference, the purpose of which was to develop specific programs designed to help Aboriginal people enter the economic mainstream. From that conference came the AJD’s partnership with the NAAF and others to develop an education video, work kit and high school curriculum module – “The Circle of Justice” – designed to increase the presence of Aboriginal people in justice careers. The material is expected to be delivered for the first time in 30-50 Aboriginal high schools in the winter of 2005-06.
The 2000 AJS evaluation identified the need to improve the AJLN information distribution function. At that time, the AJD indicated that it would enhance the AJLN website by broadening the scope of the on-line newsletter LINK, creating a web-based tool for information exchange among community justice program providers, and posting lessons learned from workshops and conferences sponsored by the AJLN. Because of staff turn-over and budget reductions, those enhancements to the website have not occurred.
Funding Learning Events
In 2002-03, the AJLN funded 29 activities, including conferences and training sessions on restorative justice programs and processes, AJS awareness-building and promotion, youth career fairs (designed to encourage Aboriginal youth to stay in school and to make wise career choices), and a police-led sweat lodge program for young offenders.
Because of government-wide and departmental budget reallocations, the number of activities supported by the AJLN dropped to 9 in 2003-04 and to 5 in 2004-05. In 2003-04, funding support continued for the youth fairs, and the sweat lodge program. Funding assistance was also provided in that fiscal year to The National Aboriginal Achievement Awards (celebrating career achievements by Aboriginal individuals in a variety of professions) and to several conferences and workshops on, variously, cross-cultural awareness, conflict resolution, restorative justice processes, family violence, and the implications of the Supreme Court decision in R. v. Gladue.
In 2004-05, funding was renewed to support the achievement awards, the youth fairs, the sweat lodge program, and cross-cultural awareness training.
|Number of Initiatives||29||9||5|
|Total Committed Funding||$330,236||$102,960||$37,807|
Source: AJD Files
Evaluation and Evolution
From its inception, the AJLN has struggled to fulfill its responsibilities in the face of a number of difficulties, including:
- an unclear mandate, and no consensus among stakeholders on goals and priorities;
- frequent turn-over of leadership;
- an increasingly diminished budget;
disengagement of network volunteers (many individuals who volunteered to be part of the network lost interest in or became alienated from it when the AJLN could not readily create a place for them, or could not articulate its overall direction); and
resistance from provincial and territorial government officials who did not feel sufficiently consulted about and involved in the development of the AJLN or in the composition of the Advisory Committee.
In the result, although those who have benefited from the initiatives sponsored by the AJLN consider it an important component of the AJS, many communities intended to be served by it have had no contact with it, and in fact know little or nothing about it.
Recognizing that in its existing form the AJLN has not been able to satisfactorily achieve expected results, the AJD undertook an internal review of that component of the AJS in 2004. A report identifying a number of restructuring options, and recommending a clarified mandate, was produced. The AJD has identified as part of its 2005-06 business plan the building of a new AJLN, as part of a new Outreach and Partnership component of the AJS, with the goal of becoming a communications centre for Aboriginal justice.
Formal Evaluations of the AJS
The AJD has committed to formal evaluations of the AJS, as outlined in the AJS RMAF. Over the course of its second five-year mandate, two key evaluations of the AJS have been planned—a mid-term formative evaluation and an end-of-mandate summative evaluation.
The formative evaluation was substantially completed in 2004-05 by the Evaluation Division of DOJ. The final report, identifying findings and recommendations, is expected to be presented to the AJD early in 2005-06.
Evaluators assessed the extent to which the AJS has been successful in moving toward its objectives, with special attention to the implementation of the new components — Training and Development, and Self-Government Capacity Building. They also considered, more broadly, the continued relevance of the AJS, and whether other delivery and design options would improve its efficacy.
Having worked closely with Evaluation staff, the AJD anticipates that the final report will confirm that the AJS remains a relevant part of the federal response to the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system, and that, in particular, community-based justice program funding has been meaningfully implemented and enjoys the support of communities and other justice system stakeholders. It is expected that the AJLN and the Training and Development Fund will be identified as not having been as successfully implemented as might have occurred had there been no budget reductions. It is also expected that the lack of consistent and meaningful performance data on community-based justice programs will be identified as an impediment to a more scrupulous assessment of the impact of the AJS.
The forthcoming report from the Evaluation Division will provide the AJD with information and recommendations to enhance its ability to meet its goals during the balance of the AJS mandate.
A summative evaluation will be undertaken in 2006-07 in contemplation of renewal of the AJS beyond March 2007. The summative evaluation will focus on the continued relevance of the AJS, its success in meeting objectives, and the impact it has had on stakeholders.
Sub-Study: The AJS in British Columbia
In 2003, an assessment of the AJS as it had been received and implemented in British Columbia was carried out. Interviews were conducted with all community-based justice program providers in that province to capture their perceptions of and experiences with the AJS. Generally, the conversations covered: how the community found out about the Strategy; what prompted it to apply for justice program funding; the process by which the community-based justice program was designed; how the program was working; and the quality of relations between the program and the mainstream justice system, including the AJD. The goal of the review was to identify meaningful and practical improvements that could be made to AJS management and delivery.
Overall, the communities expressed support for the AJS and agreed that it is an extremely worthwhile initiative. However, program coordinators also identified problems and suggested improvements. Recommendations included these:
- promote the AJS to Aboriginal communities, rural and urban, more vigorously;
- streamline the application process, develop clearer guidelines for applicants, and offer assistance with the application process;
- extend more time, information and resources to communities to let them design their own culturally appropriate programs;
- improve networking and information-sharing, including for example creating a list serve and chat room, and hosting an annual workshop for all program coordinators;
- offer more training and development for program board members, coordinators, frontline staff and volunteers;
- implement a simplified, consolidated reporting system that meets the minimal requirements of all funders and that requires reporting on an annual or semi-annual basis;
- provide multi-year funding with annual audits, and expedite procedures for getting approved funding to programs and for releasing holdbacks; and
- develop evaluation criteria, in collaboration with communities, that recognize different conceptions of success (healing and wellness in addition to savings and statistics, for example).
Many of the recommendations of the report were implemented by the AJD’s Regional Office in British Columbia. Of particular note is the new electronic reporting system developed by the Regional Office in collaboration with the community-based justice programs operating in B.C. The system is comprehensive, capturing a great deal of data useful to the analysis and evaluation of programs. Fine-tuning of the reporting system is on-going, with community-based justice programs continuing to devote much time and effort to it.
More generally, the findings and recommendations of the B.C. report will be considered during AJS evaluations, and will inform the AJD’s work plans in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
Evaluations of Community-based Justice Programs
The effectiveness of the AJS may be measured, in part, by how well community-based justice programs are working, and by what impact they are having on the justice system. To get at that information, community-based justice programs conduct self-evaluations (using tools and booklets developed by the AJD) and undergo third-party evaluations (assessments by a party that is neither the program nor a funder of it). During the reporting period, a number of third-party evaluations were completed with AJS funding support. Several of those evaluations are summarized below.
In addition to producing information with which to measure the impact and value of the AJS itself, program evaluations make an important contribution to the developing discourse on what constitutes “success” in community-based justice programming, and what performance indicators, outcome measures and study time frames are appropriate. Those insights are helpful to the AJD as it works to develop a standard evaluation framework for AJS-funded programs.
Tsuu T’ina First Nation Court and Peacemaking Services (Alberta)
The Tsuu T’ina Nation, with a population of 1,982 in 2001, borders on Calgary. The Tsuu T’ina Court is an on-reserve provincial court with an aboriginal judge, Crown prosecutor and court clerks. The court, which began sitting in October 2000, deals with criminal matters (adults and youth), as well as with violations of federal and provincial statutes and First Nations by-laws. It has jurisdiction for child welfare, family and civil matters but has not expanded into those areas yet. The associated Office of the Peacemaker operates a peacemaking program that engages offenders, victims, family and community members in resolving conflicts, dealing with the underlying causes of offender behaviour, and promoting a more peaceful community. AJS funding supports the peacemaking component of the program.
A third-party evaluation was completed in 2004. Qualitative data was collected by way of focus groups, and in-person and telephone interviews with members of the judiciary, Crown, defence, Tsuu T’ina Nation police, RCMP, Victim Services, probation officers, community organizations, victims and Tsuu T’ina Nation members. Quantitative data included police and peacemaker statistics.
Qualitatively, respondents considered the program a positive addition to the community. There was pride of community ownership, and a more positive attitude towards the criminal justice system. By victims and offenders alike, the court was considered accessible, respectful and fair, although some respondents considered it too lenient in granting adjournments and in sentencing. Aboriginal workers in the court system were praised as important role models. Peacemaking was generally considered a positive experience although some respondents thought it “an easy way out” for the offender and a painful revisiting of the offence for the victim. Elders in particular approved of peacemaking, both because it reintroduced traditional ways of resolving conflict and because it kept offenders “out of the destructive experience of going to prison.”
Quantitatively, over the evaluation period (October 2000 to March 2003), 90 persons were referred to peacemaking, with 66 accepted into the program. Of those, 50% successfully completed the program, fulfilling all the conditions of the peacemaking resolution; the unsuccessful 50% were returned to court. Generally, the 15 to 19 year old age group was found not to be accessing peacemaking services. Recidivism among offenders who accessed peacemaking was lower than recidivism among offenders who were the subject of formal court dispositions. Police reported a rise in “incidents” over the years, from 600 in 1999 to 1,000 in 2002, attributing it in part to an improved attitude towards the justice system, one consequence of which is an increased willingness to report offences.
The evaluation recommended a number of actions aimed at strengthening the program:
- undertake public awareness activities to educate the community about the Court and peacemaking services;
- encourage youth ages 15 to 19 to access peacemaking;
- improve data collection, including tracking offenders post-disposition for at least five years;
- review and clarify job descriptions and reporting structures;
- conduct a needs assessment related to the peacemaker job function, hire more peacemakers, and improve their training;
- provide separate, secure and private facilities for the Office of the Peacemaker;
- produce written criteria and procedures for the peacemaking process; and
- develop a long-term evaluation framework.
The report has been forwarded to the Tsuu T’ina Nation Advisory Committee for consideration.
Nunavut Community Justice Program
Launched under the Government of the Northwest Territories in 1993, the Community Justice Program (CJP) continues under the Government of Nunavut. The aim of the program is to support communities in taking greater responsibility for offenders and victims, replacing reliance on the mainstream justice system with community-based justice processes and outcomes that make use of and are consistent with Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge).
The key component of the Nunavut CJP are the Community Justice Committees (CJC), composed of community members who offer adult and youth diversion, victim support services and crime prevention activities. AJS funds are provided to the Government of Nunavut to support CJCs in Arviat, Baker Lake, Cambridge Bay, Cape Dorset, Clyde River, Coral Harbour, Iqaluit, Igloolik, Kimmirut, Naujaat (Repulse Bay), Pangnirtung, Rankin Inlet and Sanikiluaq.
A third-party evaluation of the Nunavut CJP was completed in 2004. The evaluator was to consider whether the program was meeting its mandate and objectives, whether the current mandate and program structure were sufficient to meet current and future needs, and whether the program offered effective alternatives to the mainstream justice system. Research was conducted in four communities (Arviat, Iqaluit, Pangnirtung and Rankin Inlet) by way of semi-structured one-on-one interviews and group consultations with key community members and criminal justice professionals. The Nunavut-wide perspective of the report was based on community consultee interviews and documentation from federal and territorial governments.
The evaluation concluded that the CJP was meeting its mandate and objectives, that generally the program’s mandate and structure met current and would meet future needs, and that it was performing a valuable function in the community with potential for greater positive impacts over time. Significant progress was found to have been made by CJCs in their management of adult and youth diversions since 1999. The CJCs had the respect of their communities, Hamlet Councils and other professionals in the system. There was evidence that the most effective CJCs were reducing recidivism in their communities.
Problems identified in the evaluation included insufficient funding, inadequate infrastructure (no dedicated, private and secure space to conduct CJC business), difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified coordinators (non-competitive salary and part-time work), and a CJC membership selection process that did not always lead to the most appropriate appointments.
Identified as one of the most significant threats to the ultimate success of the CJP was the tension between the mandate of the CJCs and the policy directives of the RCMP: the RCMP defines restorative justice as involving the victim in every case; CJCs have a mandate to engage in community-based justice according to Inuit ways which, traditionally, did not always involve the victim.While noting that the issue was a complex one requiring more research, the evaluator suggested that in some communities RCMP may not be diverting cases to CJCs where there is doubt about the victim’s participation, and that “[i]f Divisional headquarters decides to force the issue, it may mean that detachment commanders will be required to stop pre-charge diversion.”
The evaluation resulted in 19 recommendations, among them these:
- reassess the per capita funding formula (thought not to serve the CJCs well);
- develop territory-wide program outcome measures for CJCs, and conduct annual assessments;
- improve the content of records;
- enhance efforts to directly involve the victim in the community justice process;
- resolve the issue of victim involvement with the RCMP (in favour of referral/ acceptance even where the victim, though consenting, chooses not to participate);
- develop a standard job description and qualifications for coordinators, pay them competitively and enhance their training;
- provide dedicated space to CJCs to conduct their counselling and mediation activities, and to coordinators to perform their administrative duties and keep files securely;
- where CJCs lack community support, engage in outreach and awareness-building;
- revise and standardize the process of appointments to CJCs, ensuring that it is fair and equitable, and that it results in the appointment of the best candidates; and
- provide funding to the Rankin Inlet Victim Support Program to enable it to prepare victims for the family group conference sessions run by the CJCs.
The evaluation was presented to the Government of Nunavut in May of 2004, and was referred to the Nunavut Department of Justice. That Department has included in its 2005-06 business plan a strategic planning session to consider the report’s recommendations.
Hollow Water Community Holistic Circle Healing Program (Manitoba)
The Hollow Water Community Holistic Circle Healing Program (CHCHP), in operation since 1987, was designed to prevent, intervene in and heal the inter-generational effects of sexual abuse and domestic violence. The program offers counselling of parties and their extended families, circles and support groups, investigation of new disclosures, oversight of court-ordered assessments, and traditional healing therapy.
A third-party evaluation of the program was completed in 2003. The assessment included interviews with program participants, analyses of in-house documents, and a restorative justice literature review. The evaluation was characterized by its author as“only a snapshot of the Community Holistic Circle Healing program as it compares to the Aboriginal Justice Directorate mandate dated March-April 2003”. The report is largely qualitative in content.
The evaluation found no evidence that the program has contributed to a decrease in crime; in fact, the opposite was true because of increased disclosure to the program. The program was however thought to have had a significant impact on the rates of incarceration. For Aboriginal stakeholders, the program represented an important step in the restoration of traditional justice systems, and offered a vital service to the community. The program was considered to suffer from inadequate financial support.
Recommendations were not the focus of the evaluation although these two were made: the eighteen-year old draft protocol with Manitoba Justice should be formalized; and governments should provide adequate core funding to maintain the program.
The 2003 evaluation of the CHCHP follows on a cost-benefit analysis of the same program undertaken in 2001. The earlier study found that, during the first 10 years of operation, the CHCHP was more cost-efficient than the mainstream justice process. Researchers estimated that for every $1 the provincial government spent on the CHCHP, it saved $2.75 on pre-incarceration, prison and probation costs; and that for every $1 the federal government spent on the program, it saved between $1 and $11 on incarceration and parole costs. The study identified a number of value-added benefits that could not be easily assigned a dollar value, including improved health, better parenting skills, an increased sense of safety, and a reconnection to culture and tradition.
2004 Visit by United Nations Special Rapporteur
At the invitation of the federal government, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, visited Canada in the spring of 2004. He travelled to various parts of the country, including Ontario, Nova Scotia, Québec, Manitoba and Nunavut, where he met with government officials, Aboriginal communities and non-governmental organizations to discuss Canada’s approach to Aboriginal issues. AJD staff made a presentation on the AJS to Mr. Stavenhagen during his time in Ottawa.
In his December 2004 report on the Canadian mission, the Special Rapporteur highlighted the AJS as one of the key programs the federal government has implemented in response to the issues faced by Aboriginal people in the justice system. He urged that efforts increase to reduce and eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal people in detention, and that Aboriginal justice institutions and mechanisms be officially recognized and fostered with the full participation of Aboriginal communities.
The Special Rapporteur’s report is expected to be presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights in April of 2005.
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