Next Steps

Fact Sheet: Developing the Indigenous Justice Strategy to address the overrepresentation and systemic discrimination of Indigenous people in the justice system

In the spirit of reconciliation, and out of respect for Indigenous rights to self-determination, Justice Canada recognizes that the development of an Indigenous Justice Strategy must be informed by First Nations, Inuit and Métis perspectives and priorities.

By working closely with Indigenous partners on the development of the Indigenous Justice Strategy we have an opportunity to construct and put in place effective and concrete measures, shaped by the lived experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, to improve Canada’s justice system.

The Indigenous Justice Strategy is being developed in five phases:

  1. Pre-engagement (completed)
  2. Indigenous-led and Justice Canada-led engagement (completed)
  3. Reporting and development (completed)
  4. Validation and finalization (current phase)
  5. Release of the Indigenous Justice Strategy (2024)
Legend

Completed

Current stage

Yet to occur

Current status

Completed

Pre-engagement

Completed

Indigenous-led and Justice Canada-led engagement

Completed

Reporting and development of a draft IJS

Current stage

Validation of draft IJS and finalization

Yet to occur

Release of the Indigenous Justice Strategy

Phase 1: Pre-Engagement (completed)

Starting in the summer of 2021, Justice Canada met with Indigenous representative organizations that could provide a voice for their membership at the national level and offer early guidance on the scope and preferred approach to develop the Indigenous Justice Strategy. These discussions informed the initial scope and direction for the Indigenous Justice Strategy.

The pre-engagement sessions with National Indigenous Organizations, including Indigenous women’s organizations, provided great insight into what could be included in this strategy. Through these sessions, partners suggested that an Indigenous Justice Strategy should include concrete actions in the areas of crime prevention, policing and diversion, courts, corrections, and reintegration. Partners also discussed the importance of social supports (e.g. health, mental health, housing) in improving the experiences and outcomes of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in the Canadian justice system. Partners also emphasized the importance of supporting the revitalization of Indigenous justice systems, self-determination and criminal law reforms.

Phase 2: Indigenous-led and Justice Canada-led engagement (completed)

The engagement phase helped to identify the main issues and areas of concern for Indigenous people in relation to their overrepresentation in the justice system.

There were two aspects to engagement: Indigenous-led and Justice Canada-led.

Indigenous-led engagement

Budget 2021 provided $11 million in funding, until March 2024, to support Indigenous-led community engagement, as well as collaboration between Indigenous groups and the federal government, as a first step towards developing an Indigenous Justice Strategy in Canada.

From December 13, 2021 to January 24, 2022, Justice Canada held a call for proposals to support Indigenous peoples and eligible organizations to undertake Indigenous-led engagement to gather input, ideas and proposals to inform the development of a future Indigenous Justice Strategy.

Through this call for proposals, Justice Canada provided $11 million in funding to 38 Indigenous communities, organizations, and governments to undertake their own engagement activities from 2022 to 2024.

Justice Canada-led engagement

In addition to, and to complement Indigenous-led engagement, Justice Canada consulted and cooperated with key First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners on the development of the Indigenous Justice Strategy. These included National Indigenous Organizations, First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, Indigenous justice experts, Indigenous justice program and service providers, justice practitioners (including law enforcement) and Indigenous academics. Justice Canada also engaged provinces and territories in this work.

Justice Canada’s engagement on the development of the Indigenous Justice Strategy took place from the fall of 2022 to December 2023.

Engagement with key partners and contributors will continue throughout all phases.

Phase 3: Reporting and development (completed)

As part of the reporting and development phase, Justice Canada has developed a series of What We Learned reports summarizing Justice Canada-led engagements and the work with Indigenous partners.

The outcomes presented in the reports will inform the development of the Indigenous Justice Strategy.

Phase 4: Validation and finalization (current phase)

Justice Canada has released the Indigenous Justice Strategy Key Elements Consultation Draft (the Consultation Draft) for validation and feedback. This will include targeted consultations with partners and an online survey (will be available soon).

Justice Canada will also conduct a parallel process with national Indigenous organizations, and rights-holders to co-develop distinctions-based elements of the Indigenous Justice Strategy.

It is anticipated that the Indigenous Justice Strategy will be finalized in 2024.

Phases 5: Release

The release of the Indigenous Justice Strategy is planned for late 2024. The Indigenous Justice Strategy will provide the framework to address systemic discrimination against and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system.