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 StatusOct. 4, 2021 IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusSept. 5, 2021IN 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.

Government Aboriginal Specific Victim Programs and Services
Federal

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

Specialized Victim Services of Families for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women Family Information Liaison Units

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.

Family Information Liaison Units are a new service for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The Units help families access available information about their missing and murdered loved ones from multiple government sources. The Units are available in every province and territory and build on the existing victim services frameworks in each region. 

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.

Indigenous partners play a critical role in advising on processes and procedures for the Units. Provinces and territories are exploring different ways to meaningfully partner with Indigenous community and advocacy organizations in the design and delivery of services.

British Columbia

Restorative Justice Victim Services

There are currently 32 Indigenous justice programs applying restorative justice principles.

Indigenous victims of crime can find victim services in their communities by calling VictimLink BC. VictimLink’s services are available in 130 languages and dialects, including 17 North American Indigenous languages.

Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of B.C.

NCCABC offices are located in 23 B.C. communities and covers 74% of the courthouses throughout the province. Native courtworkers provide information and guidance to Indigenous peoples charged with an offence at all stages of the criminal justice process, including referral to legal resources and other community resources such as education, employment and addictions treatment. Native courtworkers provide cultural awareness to justice officials, informing of the cultural traditions, values, languages, socio-economic conditions and other concerns of the Indigenous community and the perspective of an Indigenous offender.

Manitoba

Path to Reconciliation Annual Progress Report 2020

Jan. 27, 2020 – Provided funding to Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc., a community based-Indigenous organization, to lead a network of community agencies to help improve housing options for women and children who have experienced family violence. Wahbung will collaborate with sister organizations to provide wrap-around supports and services for children and their families affected by violence to have safe, affordable housing to call home.
May 30,2019 – Manitoba Victim Services partnered with Eyaa-keen Healing Centre and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) to offer support of Indigenous Elders at meetings with victims and surviving family members.
Provided more than $400,000 in funding to support programs and services that assist victims of crime, including $100,000 for Candace House. Funding enabled them to continue providing needed comfort to the families of homicide victims and others who are navigating the criminal justice system. This also include providing enhanced supports such as access to Indigenous Elders and travel costs for family members of homicide victims to travel to court to observe sentencings.

Ontario

Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to end Violence Against Indigenous Women

Feb. 18, 2016 – Violence against Indigenous women has been tearing apart the lives of women, their families and communities for generations. It is a legacy of colonialism that continues to exacerbate poverty, social isolation and insecurity. With this strategy, Ontario and Indigenous communities are coming together to end the cycle of violence and ensure future generations of Indigenous women can live the way they deserve — with safety and respect.

Ontario’s strategy promotes community safety and healing and addresses root causes of violence across six areas:

  1.  Supporting Children, Youth and Families
  2. Community Safety and Healing
  3.  Policing and Justice
  4. Prevention and Awareness
  5. Leadership, Collaboration, Alignment and Accountability
  6.  Improved Data and Research
Québec

March 5, 2021 – As part of the government’s response to the Viens Commission, the MMIWG Inquiry and the Report on Racism, funding for hiring additional Indigenous workers responsible for providing crime victims assistance services ($7.7 million):

  • These workers will be deployed in the Crime Victims Assistance Centres (CAVAC) network and in Indigenous organizations that have established victim assistance services, or that wish to do so.
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.