Beginning April 1, 2021, management of B.C.’s Gladue report program will transition from Legal Aid BC (LABC) to the BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC).
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, an Indigenous person has the right for judges to consider their particular circumstances, including the unique systemic or background factors that may have played a part in bringing the Indigenous person before the courts. These factors would be summarized in a Gladue report.
“This transition is another step toward implementing our Indigenous Justice Strategy, which was drafted by Indigenous people for Indigenous people,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “I would like to thank Legal Aid BC for providing Gladue services over the last decade, and I look forward to continuing this work with the BC First Nations Justice Council in partnership to increase the participation and jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples in our justice system.”
Alongside the duty to review the unique circumstances that have impacted an individual, judges are also encouraged to take a restorative justice approach, directing a person to rehabilitation or community-based sentencing instead of jail. To support this, Gladue reports provide the court with comprehensive information on the client and the client’s community, as well as a plan that looks at realistic and viable alternatives to prison time.
“We are proud to be leading the way, in partnership with the Province and First Nations, and look forward to continued collaboration as we clear the path towards addressing the over-representation and incarceration of our people, using alternative measures and self-determination through justice,” said Doug White, chair, BCFNJC. “Most importantly, the transition of Gladue services to the BCFNJC allows the removal of barriers related to requesting a Gladue report. As of April 1, 2021, any First Nations, Métis or Inuit person can request a Gladue report, whether or not they have a private lawyer or are a client of Legal Aid BC.”
The BCFNJC will work closely with impacted individuals and Gladue writers to prepare reports for use in sentencing, bail, appeals, long-term offender hearings, dangerous offender hearings and parole hearings. Some of the factors considered in Gladue reports include the impacts of colonization and the Indian Residential School program, discriminatory policies, systemic racism, displacement, addictions, violence and poverty.
“Legal Aid BC is proud to have worked with a dedicated group of writers, reviewers and lawyers, and with an equally dedicated group of Indigenous Elders and organizations around the province, to deliver Gladue reports for the past 10 years,” said Mark Benton, QC, chief executive officer, LABC. “The transition of the Gladue reports program to the BCFNJC is an important step toward self-determined justice for Indigenous people in B.C.”
For more information about the BC First Nations Justice Council, visit: www.bcfnjc.com
To read the BC First Nations Justice Strategy, visit:
A backgrounder follows.