Aboriginal Justice Strategy
As part of its commitment to Treasury Board, and as outlined in the AJS Results-based Management Accountability Framework (RMAF), the AJD undertook to produce annual reports on its activities. This report highlights key activities during the 2005-06 fiscal year.
The Policy Development and Support component of the AJS:
- monitors, analyzes and provides advice on policies, programs and practices that have or may have implications for Aboriginal justice;
- evaluates, on an on-going basis, the effectiveness of the AJS in delivering its component programs, and in achieving its objectives; and
- contributes to the development of a growing body of knowledge about best practices in, policies and programs directed at, and resources available to Aboriginal justice initiatives.
The policy activities of the AJD are directed at ensuring that, in design and delivery, government initiatives – primarily federal but also provincial and territorial – support and sustain Aboriginal justice as a policy priority in Canadian society, and are coherent, integrated, complementary and, as much as possible, collaborative.
Because the success of the Policy Development and Support component of the AJS depends on the strength of its internal and external networks, the development of strategic partnerships at departmental, interdepartmental and intergovernmental levels is a key activity. During 2005-06, the AJD was an active participant on a number of working groups and committees. Bringing stakeholders together regularly to share information and expertise, and to discuss emerging issues, advances the twin goals of improving coordination and collaboration, and creating sustainable linkages with communities, and among government policies and programs that impact on Aboriginal justice.
A mid-term evaluation of the AJS completed in June of 2005, and discussed in more detail in Part 3 of this report, identified that, since the last formal evaluation in 2002, the AJD and the AJS have had a positive impact on the level of cooperation among various Aboriginal justice stakeholders. In particular, the evaluation found improvement in relationships between various DOJ offices, between the DOJ and provincial/territorial ministries, and between Aboriginal communities and the local mainstream justice system.
In 2005-06, the AJD participated as a member of the following committees and working groups:
- Working Group on Youth Justice
- Working Group on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- Aboriginal Community Stability and Wellness Working Group
- Urban Aboriginal Strategy Committee
- Interdepartmental Committee on Sisters in Spirit
- Treasury Board Secretariat Horizontal Review
- Sustainable Development Implementation Team
- Northern Youth Strategy
- Aboriginal Canada Portal & Connectivity Working Group
- Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Aboriginal Justice Issues: Youth Justice Sub-committee; Family and Interpersonal Violence Sub-committee
- Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Restorative Justice
- Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Victims of Crime; Aboriginal Sub-committee
- Residential School Networking Group
- Deputy Ministers’ Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Aboriginal Justice Issues
- Saskatchewan Justice Reform: Implementation Steering Committees (Métis & First Nations) and Regional Working Group (Assessment and Implementation)
The AJD’s Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF), requires it to define anticipated program outcomes, focus on achieving results, measure performance regularly, and use that information to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Research and evaluation activities in 2005-06 were directed at evaluating the effectiveness of the AJS in delivering on its mandate. More generally, the activities were intended to contribute to the growing body of knowledge about best practices in, policies and programs directed at, and resources available to Aboriginal justice initiatives.
In 2005-06, the AJD engaged in the following research and evaluation activities:
completed a literature review directed at determining whether the AJS continues to be relevant, and whether there are more cost-effective or efficient program design and delivery approaches;
participated in the formal mid-term evaluation of the AJS conducted by the DOJ’s Evaluation Division (more details are provided in Part 3 of this report);
collected and synthesized the results of recent third-party evaluations of AJS-funded community-based justice programs to identify lessons learned, best practices and potential improvements to the management and delivery of both the AJS and the programs funded by it;
collaborated with the DOJ’s Evaluation Division to launch a study of twelve AJS-funded community-based justice programs to determine whether the programs have had an impact on rates of victimization and crime in the communities in which they operate, and to identify lessons learned and best practices. Work included developing a communication strategy, identifying key stakeholders for in-person interviews, creating interview guides, and conducting the studies. Findings are expected to be reported in 2006-07;
collaborated with Evaluation Division on a recidivism study of nine AJS-funded community-based justice programs to assess the extent to which the programs have reduced re-offending among Aboriginal participants referred to them. The study is also expected to offer insight into what processes work best to reduce recidivism and what factors – including community characteristics – contribute to or hinder success. Findings are expected to be reported in 2006-07.
The AJD is committed to supporting the generation and dissemination of information through a wide variety of vehicles. Like research and evaluation activities, conferences, workshops and other such events contribute in important ways to the creation and distribution of knowledge about Aboriginal justice initiatives. The AJD attends and participates at conferences and workshops to promote the AJS and to share and receive information about Aboriginal justice initiatives. It also provides funding for such events to support the exchange of ideas and the generation of new knowledge and skills.
In 2005-06, the AJD attended the following conferences and workshops:
- International Conference on Special Needs Offenders (“Beyond the Horizon – Partnership in Action”): the conference included workshops on Aboriginal offenders and their unique needs in the justice system;
- Aboriginal Policy Research Conference: the event brought together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal policy-makers, leaders and academics from around the world to share research, and to discuss ideas in pursuit of better evidence-based policy and policy outcome assessment methods;
- Northern Justice Symposium (“Restoring Balance in our Community – Crime Prevention Initiative”): the symposium focused on justice initiatives aimed at preventing youth crime, especially through education;
- Policy Forum on Aboriginal Women and Violence (“Building Safe and Healthy Families and Communities”): the national forum focused on raising awareness of the complex problem of sexualized/racialized violence against Aboriginal women, identifying access-to-services issues, and sharing best practices and policies;
- Indigenous Bar Association Annual Fall Conference (“Exercising Indigenous Jurisdiction over Collective Rights”): workshops and plenary sessions focused on the challenges and successes arising from recent Aboriginal rights law and policy initiatives. During the well-attended pre-conference Student Day, an AJD counsel met with Aboriginal law students to share his perspectives as an Aboriginal lawyer;
- Restorative Justice Week/Symposium (“Wisdom Gained Through Experience”): the symposium offered an opportunity to learn about and celebrate successes in restorative justice initiatives across the country. An AJD staff member spoke at the symposium about the AJS and its accomplishments;
- National Aboriginal Connectivity and E-Services Forum (“Sustainable Connectivity as an Engine for Social and Economic Growth”): the forum brought together government officials, national Aboriginal organizations, and Aboriginal connectivity and e-service experts from across Canada in a collective effort to promote the importance of the Internet and broadband connectivity, to encourage the development and awareness of on-line Aboriginal content, and to examine ways to reduce the digital divide within urban, rural and remote Aboriginal communities;
- Canadian Aboriginal Law 2005 (“The Shifting Paradigm”): the conference reviewed significant recent changes in Aboriginal rights law, with a focus on new causes of action and remedies, and rights to litigation funding;
- The Supreme Court of Canada Decisions in Bernard and Marshall: the one-day seminar addressed the key issues and implications arising from the landmark Supreme Court decision in R. v. Bernard; R. v. Marshall;
- The Pacific Business and Law Institute “New Duties for the Crown and Aboriginal Peoples”: the two-day seminar focused on the Supreme Court decisions in Haida Nation and Taku River which shed new light on the duties of the Crown, and of Aboriginal peoples, when dealing with potential and affirmed Aboriginal and treaty rights;
- National Aboriginal Achievement Awards: the annual ceremony celebrates career achievements by Aboriginal individuals in a variety of professions;
- Pacific Business and Law Institute Aboriginal Justice Forum (“Forging a Common Path”): the forum focused on practical ways to build healthy partnerships among justice representatives, police, corrections officials, the communities they serve and other relevant agencies.
Moreover, the AJD sponsored these events in 2005-06:
- Pacific Business and Law Institute Aboriginal Justice Forum;
- National Aboriginal Achievement Awards;
- Policy Forum on Aboriginal Women and Violence; and
- Aboriginal Policy Research Conference.
Participation on conference planning committees has also enhanced the profile of the AJS, and has provided the opportunity to influence conference agendas. In 2005-06, the AJD sat on the planning committees for the 2005 International Conference on Special Needs Offenders, and for the 2006 Aboriginal Policy Research Conference.
Community-based justice program funding supports Aboriginal communities in developing and operating culturally relevant justice programs that give communities significant responsibility for working with offenders, and for resolving civil and criminal disputes, at the local level. Successful programs increase the community’s understanding of and participation in the justice system, build community capacity to address justice issues in culturally appropriate ways, and strengthen relations with mainstream justice stakeholders by creating mutual trust.
Programs that are eligible for AJS funding capture a wide range of activities at the community level:
diversion/alternative measures programs divert offenders from the formal court system into alternative community processes. Diversion is usually an informal process; alternative measures programs are typically authorized by and established under provisions of the Criminal Code or Youth Criminal Justice Act. Properly designed, diversion/alternative measures programs are less intrusive, more culturally appropriate, and more expeditious than a formal court-based response;
community sentencing programs provide for the participation of the community in the preparation and provision of advice to sentencing judges about the appropriate sanction to impose on a person found guilty of an offence, and about the community resources that could be made available to the offender as part of a restorative response. Vehicles through which the advice is developed and delivered include Elders’ advisory panels and circle sentencing initiatives (with or without the participation of the judge);
mediation provides for the participation in non-criminal disputes (such as family or civil matters) of a neutral third party who assists the parties in conflict to come to a resolution. The role of the mediator is to facilitate discussion and resolution between the parties; he or she has no decision-making authority or power to impose an outcome;
other justice activities aimed at strengthening relations between community justice workers/projects and the mainstream system are also eligible for AJS funding.
Although the focus of this report is on activities undertaken in fiscal year 2005-06, the tables below include figures for the two earlier fiscal years for comparative purposes.
As Table 2-1 indicates, the number of community-based justice program agreements entered into by the AJD increased by almost 8% in 2005-06. Most of the new agreements were about evaluating existing programs; as a result, the number of programs delivered under AJS agreements remained relatively stable. Investment in programs increased by 3.6% in 2005-06. In 2005-06, all AJS funds available to communities for program delivery, training and development, and self-government capacity-building were distributed.
|Number of AJS Agreements||83||89||88|
|Number of Programs Operated||105||108||110|
|Number of Communities Served||457||453||433|
|Total AJS Program Funding||$6,469,344||$6,636,259||$6,873,400|
Source: AJD Files
In 2003-04, the AJS established a national presence, funding community-based justice programs in every province and territory in Canada. That national presence has continued since then. Table 2-2 identifies the number of programs by jurisdiction by fiscal year. Table 2-3 reports AJS funding by jurisdiction by fiscal year.
|Nfld. & Labrador||1||1||2|
Source: AJD Files
|Jurisdiction||2003-2004 ($)||2004-2005 ($)||2005-2006 ($)|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||75,000||75,000||150,000|
|North West Territories||145,000||145,000||145,000|
Source: AJD Files
The number of programs delivered by location type has remained relatively stable in recent years. There are rural programs in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and P.E.I.; urban programs are offered in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
|North (Yukon,* NWT, Nunavut)||26||28||28|
|Off-Reserve - Rural||3||3||3|
|Off-Reserve - Urban||15||15||17|
|Mix of On-Reserve & Off (Rural & Urban)||9||9||10|
Source: AJD Files
* In each year, two Yukon programs served an urban population.
Communities may deliver one or more program models under a single contribution agreement and organizational structure. In 2005-06, 78% of funding recipients delivered diversion/alternative measures programs; 16% offered community sentencing advice to courts; 10% undertook other justice activities including Band by-law administration, community corrections, victim assistance, and policy development; and 7% engaged in family/civil mediation.
The T&D Fund supports training activities designed to build community capacity to develop and deliver justice programs. 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 budget of existing AJS-funded programs where program funds do not meet the training needs of the community;
- 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.
Since introduction of the T&D Fund in 2002-03, the AJD has entered into more than 100 Training and Development agreements in support of programs that serve or will serve hundreds of communities across Canada. The agreements have funded initiatives in every province and territory, and have included such activities as conferences, regional workshops, seminars, strategic planning sessions, and a variety of other training opportunities tailored to needs identified by individual program providers.
|# of AJS T&D Agreements||17||32||27|
|Total AJS T&D Funding||$361,713||$442,555||$351,600|
Source: AJD Files
AJD counsel provides legal and policy advice to federal negotiators on the “administration of justice” component of self-government negotiations and agreements.
At the end of 2005-06, AJD legal counsel was active at 6 self-government tables: Deline and Tulita in the Northwest Territories, Conne River in Newfoundland, James Bay Cree in Quebec, Teslin Tlingit in Yukon, and Akwasasne in Ontario.
AJD counsel also participated in drafting guidelines for federal negotiators with respect to the enforcement, adjudication and administration of First Nation laws. A working draft was produced during 2005-06.
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. 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 2005-06, three self-government capacity building projects were funded:
The Federation of Saskatchewan of Indian Nations (FSIN) Project: the initiative, which assists in the dissemination of information about effective approaches to the administration and enforcement of laws, is in its second year of funding. In 2005-06, the focus was on developing a Work Plan to address implementation issues associated with the recommendations of the Saskatchewan Commission on First Nations and Métis Peoples and Justice Reform. Consultation results, captured in a March 2005 report, Recommendations of the Justice Reform Commission and Review of First Nations Community Focus Sessions, informed development of the Work Plan.
The Union of Ontario Indians Project (UOI): the project, in its second year of funding, 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.
Teslin Tlingit Council ( Yukon): funding allowed the Council to complete a community assessment to address the enforcement requirements of its Administration of Justice Agreement.
In 2005-06, AJD counsel took the opportunity presented by several self-government negotiation sessions to promote and explain the relatively new Self-Government Capacity Building Fund. As a result of that awareness-building activity, a new proposal was submitted by the Deline First Nation and was approved for funding in 2006-07. The project will enable the Deline First Nation to inform its members about the functions and authorities of the Justice Council, a body that will come into existence on enactment of the legislation implementing the Self-Government Final Agreement.
The Outreach and Partnership (O&P) component of the AJS was launched in 2005-06. It replaces the former Aboriginal Justice Learning Network (AJLN).
The objectives of O&P are:
- to promote the AJS to Aboriginal communities;
- to foster information-sharing among practitioners about alternative justice processes consistent with Aboriginal values and traditions;
- to identify and disseminate best practices and creative solutions to Aboriginal justice issues;
- to encourage the participation of Aboriginal people in justice professions; and
- to solicit and foster partnerships that advance the objectives of the AJS.
In 2005-06, the new O&P component of the AJS worked to develop a coordinated action plan that would advance its objectives. It began by hosting a strategic planning session with key stakeholders to conclude the activities of the AJLN, to introduce O&P, and to solicit input on, and partner commitments to, a revitalized outreach plan. From that session, the AJD took away and began work on a number of ideas, including:
- a new visual identity for the AJS;
- a redesigned and updated w eb site to be positioned as a key dissemination point for Aboriginal justice information;
- revitalized communications and events strategies, designed to build awareness and knowledge of the AJS internally and externally; and
- the identification and solicitation of partners who would champion the AJS within their professional networks.
O&P also began work to address the under-representation of Aboriginal people in justice professions:
it identified and attended events suited to the promotion of justice professions as career options for Aboriginal people, including annual meetings of the Indigenous and Canadian Bar Associations, the 2005 Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Law Moot, Aboriginal Day (June 21, 2005) and Aboriginal Awareness Week (May 23-27, 2005);
it co-ordinated DOJ’s participation in, and it attended at, two “Blueprint for the Future” career fairs designed to encourage Aboriginal youth to stay in school and to expose them to employment opportunities and associated training requirements in diverse sectors of the Canadian workforce; and
it participated in the classroom launch of “The Circle of Justice”—an education video, work kit and high school curriculum module designed to increase the presence of Aboriginal people in justice careers. “The Circle of Justice” is part of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation’s (NAAF) “Industry in the Classroom” series, an initiative intended to increase educational opportunities for and workforce participation of Aboriginal people, and funded in part by the AJS.
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