Evaluation of the Aboriginal Justice Strategy
2. Profile of the Aboriginal Justice Strategy
This section of the report provides a description of the AJS structure, roles and responsibilities..
2.1. Aboriginal Justice Strategy
The AJS is a federally led, cost-shared program that has been supporting Indigenous community-based justice programs that use processes grounded in the principles of restorative justice and Indigenous Legal Traditions for 25 years. These programs are unique in that the services offered by each program are based on justice-related priorities, use restorative justice principles, and are designed to reflect the culture and values of the communities in which they are situated. Although the primary focus for most community-based justice programs is diversion of offenders from the Canadian mainstream justice system (MJS), AJS programs also provide a range of other justice-related services from prevention to reintegration. The AJS has been renewed seven times, in 1996, 2002, 2007 (with enhanced funding), 2012, 2013, and most recently in 2014, extending its mandate until March 31, 2017.
The AJS is comprised of two funds: the Community-Based Justice Fund and the Capacity-Building Fund. The Community-Based Justice Fund is a national program that operates on a cost-shared basis with provincial and territorial governments. In 2015-16, AJS funding supported the operation of approximately 200 community-based justice programs (through 110 funding agreements) Footnote 3. Annually, approximately 9,000 clients (offenders, victims, and other community stakeholders) from over 750 communities Footnote 4 across Canada are referred to AJS’ community-based justice programs.
The Capacity-Building Fund supports short term capacity-building and training projects related to building increased knowledge and skills for the establishment and management of community-based justice programs. Administered solely by the Department of Justice Canada (the Department), this fund is a proposal-based envelope of grant and contribution funding, delivered annually. Between 2012 and 2016, the Capacity-Building Fund supported 185 projects across Canada.
2.2. Target Population(s)
AJS programs are located across Canada, including urban, rural and northern communities both on- and off-reserve. Indigenous people are the primary beneficiaries of the AJS, including men, women, two-spirited, transgendered persons and youth.
AJS community-based justice programs use various approaches to support the provision of a justice system that is more responsive and effective and to address the justice needs of the communities they serve. One of the ways in which programs attempt to support this outcome is through the tailoring of programs to address the specific needs of Indigenous groups by providing a range of culturally based services and programming, with the goal of increasing safety and reducing victimization.
As a cost-shared program, the AJS works closely with provincial and territorial partners, Indigenous communities and non-governmental/non-profit organizations.
Provincial and Territorial Governments
As partners, provincial and territorial governments:
- provide a minimum of a 50% investment in the AJS community-based justice programs (fiscal and/or in-kind);
- provide integral program support and partnerships (e.g., victim services, corrections, probations, policing) on a regional basis;
- are members of and co-chair the AJS Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group (FPT WG), which serves as a policy forum for ongoing monitoring of inter-jurisdictional issues that concern the AJS; and
- provide referrals to AJS programs via the provincial/territorial court system (prosecutions and judiciary).
Indigenous Communities and Non-governmental/Non-profit Organizations
Indigenous communities and non-governmental/non-profit organizations are key stakeholders in that they:
- design and deliver AJS programs that meet the needs of Indigenous populations that they serve, with the majority of programs providing diversion processes, programs and services for offenders of federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) law;
- may contribute resources, both fiscal and in-kind to AJS programs;
- provide valuable information and feedback to the Department and provincial/territorial governments in regards to community justice needs; and
- partner with stakeholders at the national, provincial/territorial and community levels to ensure program effectiveness.
Given the nature of AJS involvement within the Canadian MJS, there are also a number of federal stakeholders that support the Strategy.
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Provides pre-charge referrals to AJS programs, and supports post-charge referrals in appropriate circumstances; and
- Participates in a number of AJS programs, including regular communication with programs, membership on AJS committees, and involvement in community justice panels.
- Public Safety Canada
- Provides communities with law enforcement and policing services that complement AJS programs (including Indigenous policing services through the First Nations Policing Program).
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- Provides referrals to AJS programs, in appropriate circumstances.
- Correctional Service of Canada
- Works with AJS programs to support local justice committees in offender reintegration planning and in the creation of community safety plans.
- Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)
- Works collaboratively with AJS programs on education or employment services, which assist Indigenous people in obtaining the skills they need to participate fully in the economy.
- Health Canada
- Funds complementary health programs, to which AJS clients may be referred, and which Community Justice Workers (CJWs) work with in the delivery of community-based justice programs.
- Provincial/Territorial/Municipal Police Services
- Provide referrals to AJS programs, in appropriate circumstances.
The AJS is a federally coordinated initiative that is cost-shared with provincial and territorial governments and delivered in partnership with Indigenous communities. Each of the following stakeholders has various responsibilities associated with governing the AJS.
The Department’s Aboriginal Justice Directorate (AJD) is responsible for developing and maintaining provincial and territorial partnerships, working together to assess and address emerging justice issues, gaps in service and negotiation of new programs. The AJD manages the federal funding allocation and contribution agreements signed under the AJS’ two funding components, ensuring that funding agreements are fulfilled in accordance with the Transfer Payment Policy, its supporting legislation and policies/guidelines and program terms and conditions, and that planned activities and outcomes are achieved. Also, the AJD is responsible for providing policy advice and recommendations on the AJS as well as broader Indigenous justice policy issues.
Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for supporting AJS community-based justice programs through providing both direct and indirect resources; harmonizing their government policies and processes; managing and monitoring any resulting provincial/territorial funding agreements/grants; providing integral program support to recipients on a regional basis; and coordinating and fostering relationships and support between referral agencies that fall under provincial jurisdiction (Crowns, courts and corrections) and the community-based justice programs.
Indigenous communities and non-governmental/non-profit organizations (AJS funding recipients) are responsible for designing and delivering community-based justice programs that meet the needs of the specific communities they serve, as well as meeting the clauses set out in their funding agreement, including reporting and accountability requirements.
The following table presents the total number of AJS resources provided to the Department each year for fiscal years 2012-13 to 2016-17.
Salary and Operations and Maintenance (O&M)
Grants and Contributions (Gs&Cs)
2.6. Program Logic
The AJS logic model presents the program activities, outputs and expected outcomes, and depicts the logical relationships leading to the long-term outcomes. Below the model there is a description of activities, outputs and outcomes and how they are related.
2.6.1. Activities, Outputs and Outcomes
The Community-Based Justice Fund supports community-based justice programs that offer alternatives (e.g., processes grounded in restorative justice principles and Indigenous Legal Traditions or activities throughout the justice continuum, including but not limited to, prevention, pre-charge, post-charge and reintegration) to the MJS in appropriate circumstances.
The Capacity-Building Fund supports communities in developing the knowledge and skills needed to establish and manage community-based justice programs.
The AJD also provides a policy development function in the form of advice and recommendations on the AJS’ day-to-day program operations and renewal, as well as broader Indigenous justice issues. AJD works actively with provincial and territorial government partners in delivering the AJS at the local level, and leads an FPT WG that meets periodically to address AJS-related issues and to discuss possible policy and program approaches to addressing Indigenous overrepresentation.
To be eligible for funding, all initiatives or activities must have a clear link to the objectives of the AJS.
The AJD negotiates, signs and manages contribution agreements (for the Community-Based Justice Fund and the Capacity-Building Fund) or grants (for the Capacity-Building Fund only). For the Community-Based Justice Fund, these agreements can either be bilateral with the recipient organization or tripartite with the recipient organization and respective province or territory. Any of the following may be eligible for funding:
- First Nations, bands, Tribal Councils, local, regional and national Indigenous organizations;
- regional/municipal governments, including their agencies and institutions;
- non-profit community organizations, societies, and associations which have voluntarily associated themselves for a non-profit purpose;
- provincial and territorial governments (in the case of flow-through agreements for the Community-Based Justice Fund); and
- individuals (only for the Capacity-Building Fund).
Policy development functions include: participation in FPT working groups/interdepartmental collaboration (meetings, presentation, reports and partnerships) and providing policy advice, consultations and research in the form of reports, briefing materials and Cabinet documents.
Initiatives or activities that are eligible for funding under the Community-Based Justice Fund include, but are not limited to:
- prevention or reintegration;
- dispute resolution or mediation;
- sentencing options;
- support to victims; and
- public awareness.
Initiatives or activities that are eligible for funding under the Capacity-Building Fund include those that:
- support the training and/or developmental needs of Indigenous communities that currently do not have AJS community-based justice programs;
- supplement the ongoing training needs of AJS community-based justice programs;
- support activities that improve reporting and/or the development of data collection systems in communities that have AJS programs;
- support the development of new Indigenous community-based justice programs, paying particular attention to current geographic/regional imbalances in programming; and
- support one-time or annual events and initiatives (as opposed to ongoing projects) that build bridges, trust and partnerships with the justice system and Indigenous communities.
A justice system that responds to the needs of Indigenous people by providing culturally relevant information and services - It is expected that the federal contribution that is provided through the AJS, combined with provincial/territorial contributions, will result in a more responsive MJS, that strives to bridge the gap between mainstream justice processes, and Indigenous people having increased access to and participation in culturally relevant, community-based justice programming. Culturally relevant justice processes, programming, information and services are provided that respond to the unique needs of Indigenous people in their communities. It is also expected that the federal contribution that is provided through the Capacity-Building Fund will allow Indigenous communities and organizations to increase their knowledge, skills and capacity to offer AJS programs or to improve the delivery of existing community-based justice programs.
Federal policy that addresses the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the Canadian justice system - It is expected that the policy advice and recommendations provided by the AJD, combined with FPT collaboration on various working groups (including the AJS FPT WG), will contribute to policy development that supports the day-to-day program management and renewal of the AJS and contributes to broader policy development.
Indigenous communities are more involved in local justice administration: It is expected that Indigenous communities, with support from the AJS, will be more involved in the local administration of justice services by designing and delivering community-based justice programs that reflect the unique needs of their respective communities. It is expected that these programs are recognized as an integral partner in the MJS, and their role in administering justice processes and services.
Relevant Indigenous cultural values are reflected in the Canadian justice administration: It is expected that the AJS will help provide the Canadian justice administration with additional tools to demonstrate the value of reflecting Indigenous cultural values in mainstream justice processes. Community-based justice programs provide culturally relevant programs that complement and provide alternatives to the MJS, which will in turn have a positive impact on the effectiveness of the justice system as a whole. Linkages will be established between community-based justice programs and the MJS, fostering an ongoing relationship that will improve the delivery of justice processes, programming, information and services in the community.
In the long term, AJS programs effectively contribute to reducing crime, victimization and incarceration rates in communities with funded programs, as well as to safer and healthier communities: The AJS is in line with the Department’s strategic outcome to provide a fair, relevant and accessible Canadian justice system. Through the achievement of the immediate and intermediate outcomes, AJS’ long-term outcomes are to support cost-effective community-based justice programs that offer alternatives to the MJS to help reduce crime, victimization and incarceration in communities with access to AJS programs and contribute to safer and healthier communities.
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