We call on all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, to create adequately funded and accessible Aboriginal-specific victim programs and services with appropriate evaluation mechanisms.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusNov. 9, 2020 IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusAug. 17, 2020IN PROGRESS

Why “In Progress?”

The only new programs mentioned in the official federal government response were announced to support the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls both of which expire on March 31, 2020:

  • Family Information Liaison Units established in each province and territory to provide direct assistance to families of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls to access available information about their loved ones from multiple government sources. This service builds on the existing victim service frameworks in each region. 
  • In 2016, additional funding for Indigenous community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and victim services was also provided to support the delivery of culturally-responsive and trauma-informed services for families of missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The Federal Government refers to the Justice Canada Federal Victims Strategy which is a program designed “to increase access to justice for victims and survivors of crime and give them a more effective voice in the criminal justice system”.

Provinces and Territories are also designing and implementing Indigenous-specific programs.

Justice Canada Federal Victims Strategy

Partners with provincial and territorial governments, community agencies and organizations to increase access to justice for victims and survivors of crime and give them a more effective voice in the criminal justice system 

The federal initiative was established in 2000 as part of the federal government’s response to 1998 report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights: Victims’ Rights – A Voice Not A Veto report and is grounded in the Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime  (2003) and the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (2015).

Indigenous Justice Program

The Indigenous Justice Program supports Indigenous community-based justice programs that offer alternatives to mainstream justice processes in appropriate circumstances. Objectives of the Indigenous Justice Program:

  • to assist Indigenous people in assuming greater responsibility for the administration of justice in their communities;
  • to reflect and include Indigenous values within the justice system; and,
  • to contribute to a decrease in the rate of victimization, crime and incarceration among Indigenous people in communities with community-based justice programs funded by the IJP.

The IJP currently funds 197 community-based programs that serve over 750 communities

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Programs

Family Information Liaison Units

The Units work directly with families to gather information they seek from government agencies and address outstanding questions about the loss of their loved ones. They will work directly with family members to coordinate information gathering from government agencies and services, including:

  • the criminal justice system (police, prosecutions, corrections);
  • social services;
  • child protection;
  • health services; and
  • other Family Information Liaison Units across the country. 

Specialized police-based victim services that provide dedicated, culturally responsive assistance to family members of missing or murdered Aboriginal women typically include Family Liaison Coordinators and Missing Person Liaison Officers

On June 5, 2018, the Government of Canada announced additional funding to extend the timelines for the Units. They will now be available until March 31, 2020.

Supporting Families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

In Canada, the rate of violent victimization of Indigenous people is more than double that of non-Indigenous people, and the numbers are particularly concerning when it comes to Indigenous women and girls.

The causes are many and rooted in the legacy of colonial policies and the intergenerational effects of residential schools. Investing in specialized victim services that support families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is an important part of the healing journey.

The Department of Justice Canada provides funding for initiatives that support families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls through community-based organizations that provide culturally-grounded grief and trauma supports for families. 

These initiatives are a response to what was heard during the pre-Inquiry engagement from survivors, families and loved ones affected by this long-standing national tragedy .

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Indigenous peoples and their families who have experienced crime and violence. Through the Justice Canada Federal Victims Strategy, it partners with provincial and territorial governments, community agencies and organizations to increase access to justice for victims and survivors of crime and give them a more effective voice in the criminal justice system.

The federal initiative was established in 2000 as part of the federal government’s response to 1998 report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights: Victims’ Rights – A Voice Not A Veto report and is grounded in the Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime  (2003) and the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (2015).

In August 2016, 2 new victim service initiatives were announced to provide direct assistance to families alongside the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The Government of Canada provided funding to all provincial and territorial governments for the creation of Family Information Liaison Units, a new service to help families access available information about their loved ones from multiple government sources. This service builds on the existing victim service frameworks in each region.

In 2016, additional funding for Indigenous community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and victim services was also provided to support the delivery of culturally-responsive and trauma-informed services for families of missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls. These community-based projects are developed and delivered by Indigenous community-based organizations that have extensive knowledge about how best to assist families.

All projects include an evaluation component to ensure services are meeting the needs of victims, survivors and family members of missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls.