Working with the Indigenous community

By maintaining positive relationships and solid partnerships with the community, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) offers Indigenous offenders cultural responsive interventions, programs and services. This section explains the role and function of various professionals, partners and stakeholders, including:


Elders and spiritual advisors guide Indigenous offenders to traditional Indigenous ways of life, based on their own teachings. They work both individually and in groups using:

  • teachings
  • counselling
  • traditional ceremonies and practices

The defining characteristics of an Elder are:

  • their knowledge and wisdom of traditional ways, and
  • the respect of the people within the community, identified by community members

Elders follow a traditional way of life and have been following the teaching of Elders and healers over a significant period of time. Some Elders may have additional attributes, such as those of a traditional healer.

Services that an Elder or spiritual advisor may offer to offenders include:

  • group sessions (circles) and individual discussions with offenders in the institution
  • spiritual services and various traditional ceremonies
  • helping offenders follow a healing path that supports their correctional plan
  • escorting offenders on escorted temporary absences (ETA) for ceremonial and other spiritual purposes
  • advising institutions on:
    • ceremonies and ceremonial objects
    • traditional practices and protocols
    • traditional medicines, or
    • sacred ground within the institution

Forum on Corrections Research explains the tradition and holistic approach of Elders. It discusses the validity of diagnoses, cultural competence and programs for Indigenous offenders.

Elder Vulnerability within CSC summarizes recommendations and action plans that are areas of concerns and vulnerabilities of Elders working with CSC.

Indigenous staff

Learn about the staff who specialize in helping Indigenous offenders find a more traditional path to healing.

Indigenous liaison officers

Indigenous liaison officers (ILOs) work closely with Elders/spiritual advisors. They:

  • ensure that the case management team understands the offender’s work with their Elder/spiritual advisor
  • help the Elder/spiritual advisor and support their work with Indigenous offenders wherever possible

Indigenous correctional program officers

Indigenous correctional program officers (ICPOs) are part of the case management team. They:

  • contribute to the healing journey of Indigenous offenders
  • address, in a culturally-sensitive manner, an offender's behaviours that may potentially lead to reoffending
  • provide the required programming to address the needs identified in healing plans

Indigenous community development officers

Indigenous community development officers (ICDOs) work with Indigenous offenders interested in returning to their communities. Through the Section 84 process, ICDOs also assist in building positive partnerships between Indigenous communities and CSC.

Indigenous community liaison officers

Indigenous community liaison officers (ICLOs) work from the community. They:

  • monitor, support and motivate Indigenous offenders in individual and/or group settings
  • work with Elders to facilitate, organize and coordinate Indigenous:
    • culture
    • traditional/spiritual ceremonies
    • social activities, and
    • programs

Regional Pathways coordinators

Regional Pathways coordinators help to develop and monitor the Pathways Initiative and its results. They ensure the cultural appropriateness and competence of Pathways:

  • operations
  • interventions, and
  • services

Institutional Pathways coordinators

An institutional Pathways coordinator (IPC) works at any institution with 40 or more Pathways participants. The IPC coordinates Indigenous services, activities and interventions in collaboration with:

  • the Elder
  • institutional management, and
  • the regional Pathways coordinator

National Aboriginal Advisory Committee

The National Aboriginal Advisory Committee (NAAC) provides advice to CSC on correctional policies and practices related to reintegration of Indigenous offenders. It provides expertise on Indigenous issues like:

  • northern community strategies
  • cultural awareness training
  • nationhood
  • electronic monitoring
  • offender aftercare for Indigenous offenders
  • employment needs in the community

Section 82 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act guides the NACC. CSC established the committee in 2000.

Review past records of NAAC meetings:

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