REGINA, Sept. 6, 2019 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is committed to addressing the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. Through the Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative (ICCI), it supports the development of alternatives to custody and reintegration projects for Indigenous offenders.
Today, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale announced an investment of $978,272 through the ICCI for the University of Regina to implement the Navigator-Advocates: Integrated Supports for Justice-Involved Indigenous Youth and Adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
This alternative to custody and reintegration project is supported by frontline workers and peer mentors with trauma- and FASD-informed training who can effectively advocate for FASD-affected Indigenous offenders in Saskatchewan and the Yukon. The University partnership will include Indigenous organizations, as well as FASD and justice system stakeholders, to develop culturally relevant, community based interventions that are responsive to the unique circumstances of Indigenous people.
"Our Government is working to help reverse Indigenous over-representation in Canada's criminal justice system by supporting culturally-relevant interventions by community-based organizations.This partnership with the University of Regina will increase FASD-affected Indigenous offenders' level of engagement and understanding of the system and of their disability, helping reduce their contact with the criminal justice system and make our communities safer."
- The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
"This federal government funding provides our researchers and community partners with the means to undertake new approaches to delivering supports and services that are evidence-based and informed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's findings and calls to action. By implementing this advocacy program, Dr. Michelle Stewart and her team have the opportunity to remedy some of the broader structural issues faced by those with FASD who have contact with the justice system."
- Dr. Vianne Timmons, University of Regina President and Vice-Chancellor
"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 34th call to action was an invitation to rethink how justice is done in Canada. This funding allows the University of Regina – and our partners at Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the FASD Network of Saskatchewan who will be delivering evidence-based programs at the local level – the opportunity to do just that. Frontline workers and mentors will be helping to better meet the needs of justice-involved individuals and bring about real-world change in the lives of Indigenous people with FASD. This low-barrier approach is but one of many responses needed if we are going to change the justice system and address ongoing inherent structural inequalities."
- Dr. Michelle Stewart, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts, University of Regina
- Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, the Indigenous offender population in federal correctional institutions has increased by 14.7% (from 4,856 to 5,572).
- Indigenous offenders represented 24.0% of the 2017-18 total federal offender population.
- Budget 2017 allocated $65.2 million over five years to address the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice and correctional systems, including $10 million over the five years for the ICCI.
- This initiative will work toward fulfilling Canada's commitment to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report's Calls to Action (CTA), more specifically CTA # 34, to support FASD-affected Indigenous offenders involved in the criminal justice system.
- Through the ICCI, Public Safety Canada awarded contribution funding to 14 Indigenous organizations and governments and two universities to develop tailored approaches that are responsive to the concerns, priorities and unique circumstances of Indigenous communities.
- FASD is a diagnostic term used to describe impacts on the brain and body of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol. FASD is a lifelong disability. Individuals with FASD will experience some degree of challenges in their daily living, and need support with motor skills, physical health, learning, memory, attention, communication, emotional regulation, and social skills to reach their full potential. Each individual with FASD is unique and has areas of both strengths and challenges.
- Studies show 60% of FASD-affected individuals come into contact with the criminal justice system and 90% live with mental health problems.
- Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative
- Backgrounder – ICCI funded projects since 2017
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action
SOURCE Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada
For further information: Scott Bardsley, Manager of Media and Communications, Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, 613-998-5681, [email protected]; Media Relations, Public Safety Canada, 613-991-0657, [email protected]