A One-Day Snapshot of Aboriginal Youth in Custody Across Canada

Chapter 2 - National Overview

2.1 Introduction

Data were received from 10 provinces and 3 territories, for 1,148 Aboriginal youth in custody (open, secure or remand) on Snapshot day. Statistics Canada census data (1996) reveals there are 95,120 Aboriginal youth between 12-17 years of age living in Canada . The Aboriginal youth in the Snapshot represent 1% of this total population.

Figure 2.1 reports the percentage of Aboriginal youth in custody by province/territory. Ontario had the largest proportion of Aboriginal youth in custody (24%), followed by Saskatchewan (23%) and Manitoba (23%). Prince Edward Island , New Brunswick , Newfoundland , Nova Scotia and Nunavut had the smallest proportions of Aboriginal youth in custody on Snapshot day (each accounted for 1% or less).

Figure 2.1 Percentage of Aboriginal Youth in Custody by Province/Territory

Figure 2.1 - Percentage of Aboriginal Youth in Custody by Province/Territory
[Description of Figure 2.1]

Source: One-Day Snapshot of Aboriginal Youth in Custody (2001).
Prepared by: Research and Statistics Division, Department of Justice Canada .

On Snapshot day, there were 228 open and secure facilities in Canada with Aboriginal youth on register. The province with the largest number of facilities was Ontario (N=109 or 38%), followed by Saskatchewan (N=50 or 22%), Quebec (N=16 or 7%) and Manitoba (N=15 or 7%).

The total operational capacity (the number of permanent youth beds in each facility) of the facilities included in the Snapshot was 5,797. The largest proportion of permanent beds was in Ontario (34%), followed by Manitoba (24%), Quebec (14%) and Saskatchewan (8%). Aboriginal youth included in the Snapshot occupied one-fifth (20%) of the total number of beds within the participating facilities. [1]

The custodial facilities included in this study varied with respect to types of custody provided (e.g. secure, open, or remand), description (e.g. group home, treatment centre, and boot camp) and whether they housed male and/or female youth. Similar proportions of Aboriginal youth in custody on Snapshot day were in secure and open custody (42% and 40%, respectively), while 27% were on remand. [2] Of the 1148 youth included in the Snapshot, 9% (N=103) were serving a combination sentence (e.g. secure and remand, open and remand, or open and secure). Of the remaining 1,045 youth, similar proportions were serving a secure and open sentence only (37% and 35%, respectively), while 27% were on remand only. [3]

Figure 2.2 describes the type of facilities in which Aboriginal youth were registered on Snapshot day. The most common facility description was secure/open and detention/custody centre (48%), followed by foster/community home (26%) and group home (13%).

Figure 2.2 Facility Type

Figure 2.2 - Facility Type
[Description of Figure 2.2]

Data was missing for 22 facilities.
Source: One-Day Snapshot of Aboriginal Youth in Custody (2001).
Prepared by: Research and Statistics Division, Department of Justice Canada .

The largest proportion of facilities was considered male only (51%), followed by co-ed (44%), and female only (5%).


  • [1] We were unable to calculate the total number of permanent beds in each jurisdiction because facilities without Aboriginal youth on Snapshot day did not participate in the study.

  • [2] Total equals more than 100% because some youth were serving combination sentences (e.g. secure custody and remand).

  • [3] Data were missing for 9 youth.

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