In 2017, the federal government implemented the Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative to support the development of alternatives to custody and reintegration projects for Indigenous offenders.
The Call to Action:
We call upon the federal, provincial and territorial governments to work with Aboriginal communities to provide culturally relevant services to inmates on issues such as substance abuse, family and domestic violence, and overcoming the experience of having been sexually abused.
In 2017, the federal government implemented the Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative (ICCI) to support the development of alternatives to custody and reintegration projects for Indigenous offenders.
As a result, 16 organizations received funding.
In June 2017, the federal government also implemented a program to better link inmates to culturally appropriate services but the program was not new; it was created by the prior federal government.
The Aboriginal Integrated Correctional Program Model is cited on the federal government website as a program that explores “the impacts of foster care, residential schools displacement, cultural disruption, adoption, gangs and urbanization. Offenders learn how their thoughts and actions lead to crime.”
In February 2017, at a federal Public Accounts Committee meeting, Don Head, the Commissioner of Correctional Service Canada, stated that “working to fully implement the Aboriginal Integrated Correctional Program Model (AICPM) to ensure that Indigenous offenders to the right correctional programs at the right time … is also a priority.”
But the AICPM existed prior to the 2015 TRC Calls to Action being released.
It was launched in 2010, under the previous federal government, as a pilot project for male offenders in the Pacific region. In 2013, (two years prior to the TRC Calls to Action), the CSC approved its national expansion.
In November 2016, Canada’s auditor general issued a report that rehabilitation programs aimed at Indigenous offenders are not offered “in a timely manner” and too many Indigenous offenders were released without adequate culturally appropriate rehabilitation programs.
In response, in February 2017, at a federal Public Accounts Committee meeting, Don Head, the Commissioner of Correctional Service Canada, said “continuing to increase the availability of and access to culturally relevant programs tailored to the needs of Indigenous offenders is a key priority.”
Canada’s Correctional Investigator Ivan Zinger has issued several reports recommending changes to address the overrepresentation of indigenous people in the corrections system, and has repeatedly called for the creation of a deputy commissioner position at CSC for Indigenous corrections, a position that would be solely responsible for and dedicated to improving correctional outcomes and accountability for federally-sentenced Indigenous offenders.
He told the House of Commons standing committee on public safety in 2017 that “a clear sense of urgency, leadership, priority, and top-level engagement in these matters still appears to be lacking.”