Despite increased efforts by courts to consider systemic factors and sentencing measures, Indigenous peoples continue to be alarmingly overrepresented in the Canadian criminal legal system. Since the Supreme Court of Canada’s historical decision in R. v. Gladue, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 688, Gladue reports have become an indispensable sentencing tool providing the court with essential information about an Indigenous person’s unique circumstances as impacted by colonialism and outlining viable and culturally appropriate sentencing alternatives to incarceration and/or restorative justice options. Gladue reports are an opportunity for community engagement and empowerment necessary to support a rehabilitative path to healing. Despite the increased availability of Gladue services, a significant disparity remains between the number of Indigenous men, women, youth and those who identify as non-binary genders in accessing Gladue reports.

In 2019, the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy (ICCLR) commenced a multi-year initiative to enhance access to justice for Indigenous persons living in remote communities in BC by increasing access to and use of Gladue services for Indigenous persons through technology. ICCLR’s project, Know Your Gladue Rights, specifically aims to review:

  • the current state of Gladue report writing available to Indigenous people living in remote areas of BC;
  • the barriers to accessing Gladue reports Indigenous peoples living in remote communities in BC experience, including gender-related barriers; and
  • the use of technology to enhance and/or increase the use of Gladue services in remote areas.

In Phase 1, ICCLR successfully completed a Mapping Study to understand whether technology could be used to increase access to Gladue reports for Indigenous peoples living in remote communities in BC, particularly for women, non-binary genders and juveniles. The Mapping Study was prepared by Ruth Montgomery, Eileen Skinnider, Dallas Tooshkenig and Marcella Chan. In consultation with an Advisory Board, the study included the following components (1) a discussion regarding how remoteness is defined in the delivery of justice; (2) a mapping of justice delivery services in remote BC and its relation to delivering Gladue-related services; (3) a mapping of the current state of Gladue report writing services available to persons who are Indigenous living in remote areas of BC, including a gender and age analysis; and (4) a mapping of the ways that technology is currently being used to deliver justice and social services to remote communities in BC.

ICCLR determined that an educational campaign tool was needed to target the underrepresentation of Indigenous women, youth and those who identify as non-binary genders in accessing Gladue services. Prof. Patricia Barkaskas and Dallas Tooshkenig were project co-leads for phase 2 working with direction from an all-Indigenous Advisory Board.

We wish to acknowledge and express our gratitude to our expert Advisory Board members who, in their capacity as individuals, shared their immense knowledge in carefully reviewing and commenting on the educational campaign tool. ICCLR is grateful for the Advisory Board’s input and guidance thanks to their great enthusiasm and voracity in support of this project. We have endeavored to capture as many of their suggestions as we could.

  • Honourable Marion Buller, Former Chief Commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
  • Brenna Innes, Gladue Report Writer, Prince Rupert Indigenous Justice Centre, BC First Nations Justice Council
  • Tina Miller, Training and Education Coordinator, Gladue Services, BC First Nations Justice Council
  • Erin Patterson, Gladue Report Writer, Prince George Indigenous Justice Centre, BC First Nations Justice Centre
  • Justen Peters, Youth Representative
  • Debbie Scarborough, Provincial Manager, Women and Child Protection, BC First Nations Justice Council
  • Irene Squires, Elder Representative

We gratefully acknowledge Prof. Patricia Barkaskas and Dallas Tooshkenig for their exemplary work as project co-leads. Gratitude is owed to the BC First Nations Justice Council and Mitch Walker, Director of Gladue Services for their continual support and guidance. Our thanks also go to Nuxalk Radio Station (Bella Coola) and the Bella Coola Legal Advocacy Program for their support on this project and to Fuselight Creative for their exceptional work in the development of this animation video.

We are also deeply grateful to the Law Foundation of BC for their ongoing support and for making this project possible.

With the guidance of the Advisory Board, this educational campaign tool incorporates a restorative justice approach in its messaging. The tool focuses on addressing the value of Gladue services based on principles of community empowerment and healing by providing direction to those in conflict with the law and to those who have been victimized. The design of the whiteboard animation video focuses on breaking down complex legal content and simplifying the information and Gladue process for all members of the Indigenous community. Through a strengths and resilience-based approach, the project is designed and implemented in a manner to give Indigenous communities agency and the important information they need in accessing Gladue services.

ICCLR remains committed in its ongoing efforts to improve and increase access to justice that truly reflects the values of the community it serves. These initiatives support ICCLR’s longstanding dedication to supporting greater access to alternatives to incarceration and provide a platform for increasing both self-determination and autonomy for Indigenous communities.

We welcome you to view the animation video below and share widely within your communities:

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