Indigenous Corrections Accountability Framework (ICAF) Annual Report 2019-2020
We would like to respectfully acknowledge that the land on which we developed this report is in the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people. We invite all readers across Turtle Island to take a moment to acknowledge the land they live and move on. From coast to coast to coast, we acknowledge the ancestral and unceded territory of all the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people who call this land home.
In addition, we encourage readers to reflect on the past, be mindful of how harmful dynamics may continue to be perpetuated to this day, and consider how we can each, in our own way, move forwards toward collective healing and true reconciliation.
Indigenous Corrections Accountability Framework (ICAF) Annual Report
Senior Deputy Commissioner’s Message
As Senior Deputy Commissioner, I am proud to present the 2019-2020 Indigenous Corrections Accountability Framework (ICAF) Annual Report. This is the 11th edition of an annual report that provides performance results for Indigenous corrections within Correctional Service Canada (CSC). The report reviews areas of success, and opportunities to improve correctional outcomes and to address the unique needs of Indigenous offenders through the Indigenous Continuum of Care.
A culturally appropriate approach to federal corrections, which is responsive to the unique needs, and reflective of the cultural realities of Indigenous offenders, is one of the organization’s enduring corporate priorities. CSC is widely recognized in Canada and internationally as a leader in the development and continuous enhancement of evidence-based corrections.
Recognizing the specific cultural and spiritual needs of Indigenous offenders, CSC formally adopted and continued implementation of the National Indigenous Plan to guide its programming and activities. In 2019-2020, CSC achieved positive results in multiple correctional outcomes for Indigenous offenders, underscoring CSC’s commitment to supporting the successful reintegration of Indigenous offenders.
The upward trends are encouraging and CSC remains committed to positively affecting these trends even further, while focusing on the endemic gaps that remain across the spectrum of correctional results between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Addressing the disproportionate representation of Indigenous persons in corrections, and ensuring that Indigenous stakeholders are meaningfully engaged as self-determining partners in the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of Indigenous offenders are pressing social justice issues.
In 2019, in order to address these ongoing gaps, CSC convened a Sub-committee on Indigenous Corrections to provide strategic analysis, horizontal advice, and recommendations to the Executive Committee (EXCOM) on issues relating to effective, culturally appropriate interventions and reintegration support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders. I am honoured to chair this important committee, and I look forward to sharing the progress we are making across CSC in future iterations of this Report.
Following consultation with regional, national and external stakeholders, a list of thematic priorities was developed to inform the Sub-committee's focus. These initial priorities include the National Indigenous Plan and the Indigenous Intervention Centre (IIC) model of interventions, correctional programming, conditional release outcomes, Pathways initiatives and the recruitment and retention of Indigenous employees. The performance results reported through the ICAF allow for an evidence-based approach to make recommendations in order to enhance Indigenous corrections at CSC.
At the close of the 2019–2020 fiscal year, the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on CSC operations, including the services, supports and interventions available to Indigenous offenders. Specifically, Elder services shifted to a telework approach and certain operations, such as program delivery, were intermittently suspended in compliance with local, provincial and federal public health measures. The full impact of these measures will be reported in next fiscal year’s ICAF Report.
Irrespectively, this past year, CSC placed increased emphasis on a comprehensive transformation of Indigenous corrections, through legislative, policy and program efforts to find alternatives to incarceration and to strengthen the delivery of continuous, holistic, culturally responsive and meaningful intervention and reintegration support for Indigenous offenders.
In the coming year, I look forward to building on our collective efforts to help First Nations, Métis and Inuit federally-sentenced persons return home to make positive contributions to their communities.
Senior Deputy Commissioner
In 2019, in order to address ongoing gaps in correctional outcomes for Indigenous offenders, CSC convened an EXCOM Sub-committee on Indigenous Corrections to foster better integration and achievement of objectives in Indigenous corrections, and to track organizational results in this area. The Sub-committee’s insights and recommendations will bring a broader perspective to EXCOM and Sector Heads, and will assist in prioritizing, collaborating, and leading key corporate initiatives to enhance interventions and reintegration support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders.
There are many fronts that should be explored as part of a comprehensive transformation of Indigenous federal corrections. The areas which promise the greatest potential impact, both socially and economically, focus on correctional program completion, culturally responsive interventions, resource allocations, and collaboration with federal, provincial, territorial and non-governmental partners.
The Sub-committee will explore opportunities for additive services, and expansion of outcomes-centric partnerships with Indigenous service providers, transformative approaches to financial and human resource allocations, and ways to address ongoing challenges in Indigenous recruitment and retention.
The identified priority areas of focus are:
- Criminal RIsk Index (CRI)I: Impact of Assessment Tool on Indigenous Offenders
- National Indigenous Plan and Indigenous Intervention Centres
- Suspension and Revocation Rates
- Pathways Initiatives
- CCRA Section 84 Release Plans
- Increase of Indigenous Women Offenders
- Resourcing—Recruitment and Retention
- Overarching Areas for Consideration
In response to measurable increases in program intensity change rates for Indigenous offenders since the implementation of the CRI, where appropriate, Indigenous offenders will be referred to lower-intensity programming, which will be augmented with culturally-responsive interventions to meet their needs. A clear framework and policy guidance will be developed to ensure a consistent approach and application.
The restriction on sex offences will be removed from the eligibility criteria for participation in the Indigenous Intervention Centre (IIC) model to address lower than expected participation rates of Indigenous offenders in IICs noted across all regions.
A tiger team will be convened to analyze identified focus priorities that will assist in developing short- and long-term strategies to improve suspension and revocation rates for Indigenous offenders. Focused analysis of the reasons for gaps in suspension and revocation rates specifically between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women offenders will be incorporated as one of the focus priorities of the tiger team.
The Pathways model and admission criteria will be revised to expand access to Pathways at Medium-security sites, including from Intake, and to provide greater opportunity at Maximum-security sites for Indigenous offenders to engage with Elders, focusing on quality of engagement rather than predetermined time requirements for such engagement. Additional analysis of Pathways bed space capacities will be conducted at the regional levels, to ensure the right beds in the right locations. An enhanced results measurement framework, based on expanded definitions of success for the Pathways model, will be developed to address failure perception and thereby increase buy-in among staff.
Unit-specific objectives will be implemented for the proportional representation of Indigenous staff, based on regional workforce availability (WFA) and offender representation modelling. Greater flexibility will be applied to recruitment processes, including the use of non-advertised recruitment of Indigenous candidates and the expanded utilization of Indigenous pools, developed with communities, in order to increase Indigenous recruitment.
Additionally, reviews underway to identify and enhance standardized recruitment-specific assessment tools and strategies will continue in collaboration with partners. Strategies will include the implementation of regional Indigenous-specific Correctional Training Program (CTP) initiatives and alternative hiring practices, such as guaranteed interviews and priority processing.
Finally, the Sub-committee will explore opportunities to strengthen governance aspects of the Indigenous Initiatives portfolio, and to leverage inter-sectoral engagements for additional funding supports and synergies on areas of shared concern.
2019-2020 Results at a Glance
Indigenous People account for 4.9 % of the total Canadian population however, represent 26% of the overall population under CSC jurisdiction. In 2019-2020, 78% of Indigenous offenders in custody received an Elder/Spiritual Advisor review during their sentence. Completion rare in Indigenous specific programs remain high at 75%. 91% of Indigenous offenders who identified an interest in following a traditional health path received an Elder review. 40% Indigenous offenders acquired a discretionary release at the time of their first release, compared to 29% in 2015-2016.
- The population of Indigenous women serving a federal sentence increased 21% since 2015-2016.
- 86% of Indigenous women with an identified need for a nationally recognized correctional program (NRCP) completed it prior to first release.
- The percentage of Indigenous women acquiring a discretionary release at the time of their first release has improved significantly.
- First round of results specific to disaggregated performance indicators introduced in the National Indigenous Plan performance monitoring strategy will be presented.
- Indigenous offenders at an IIC were more than twice as likely to be granted a discretionary release, the optimal type of release for any offender, when compared to other Indigenous offenders
- IIC participants were more likely to have an established section 84 release plan, and were more likely to be released in accordance with the section 84 release process.
Historical Context and Population Profile
Historical Context and Overrepresentation in the Criminal Justice System
’”At contact, Indigenous people taught the Europeans how to survive the four seasons on Turtle Island. As Europeans grew comfortable, Indigenous people were in the way of their desire for control over the land. Many colonial policies attempted to get rid of Indigenous people, and as Europeans moved inland, Indigenous people were killed or displaced. As new governments were formed, they made policy decisions such as Residential Schools, removing children from their homes. The reason was to ‘’take the Indian out of the child’’. Well, in over five hundred years, Indigenous people have demonstrated resilience and survived despite the odds.
In Residential Schools, there was no family contact or family living. At home, parents had no children, and it felt as though there was no purpose to life. In the schools, children suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse. The number of deaths in Residential Schools was astonishingly high. Eventually, those who were lucky enough to return home did. There were no family ties and they could not speak their language anymore. Indigenous ceremonies were outlawed. Children were with parents who they barely knew. Many turned to addiction to cope. There was no love, family was not family anymore and addiction took over many communities. Parents and children felt they had no identity and no purpose in life. Anger towards colonial systems and life itself was passed down onto children. Many left or ran away from home.
Many end up in jail, after going through a criminal justice system that is mainly run by people who cannot fundamentally understand what it is like to be an Indigenous person. As a result of the past, youth and adults struggle with identity, hate, anger, pain within, mistrust, no love and no purpose. Now that Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, Elders and Indigenous Liaison Officers are working with our people on the inside, doing one-on-one sessions, ceremonies and showing love all in a good way, we are seeing some success. We have people who are still in contact with CSC Elders post-release, as they continue to receive their support.’’
- Elder Dan Ross
Past government policies, primarily designed to assimilate Indigenous populations, facilitated an environment charged with negativity for generations of Indigenous people. These policies were partly based on the European belief that First Nations, Métis and Inuit people were uncivilized; a perception that grew in proportion to the colonizers’ need for land. The policies included residential schools, the 60’s scoop, forced relocation, sedentarization and institutionalization. Different measures primarily impacted certain groups, and First Nations, Métis and Inuit people have diverging histories and experiences in relation to the government.
Along with other damaging legislation and practices, assimilation efforts led to the breakdown of Indigenous community standards and values, to the displacement and/or loss of the traditional land base, and to the loss of rituals and traditions that had maintained societal stability, such as belief systems, moral codes, rules of behaviour, rites of passage, cultural history, and support-networks.
The economic, political, and social crises that Indigenous people suffered as a result are evident in the problems that currently afflict many communities, including disproportionate levels of Indigenous incarceration, poverty, unemployment, problematic substance use, domestic violence, and an absence of economic self-sufficiency and business infrastructure.
The over-representation of Indigenous people in the justice system led the Supreme Court of Canada (R. v. Gladue – 1999) to instruct judges on their responsibility to consider the unique systemic and background factors that have negatively impacted Indigenous offenders directly or indirectly and Indigenous people’s collective and individual histories when imposing a sentence on an Indigenous offender. Judges are to seek alternatives to imprisonment, if appropriate, that are more suitable to Indigenous offenders.
Historical Context and Overrepresentation through Legislation and Policy
Government of Canada & CSC Priorities
As was the case for other departments and agencies of the Government of Canada, operations at CSC were significantly impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic towards the end of the reporting period.
Effective public health measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect offenders in CSC’s care have impacted the delivery of interventions and services to varying degrees. Guided by local, provincial and federal public health agencies, CSC developed and implemented a Risk Management Framework (RMF) to transition to a new normal. The RMF identifies correctional activities, risks and mitigation strategies to protect CSC staff and offenders, while respecting the law and delivering on CSC’s legislated mandate.
Addressing Systemic Racism and Discrimination in Federal Institutions
Building a Foundation for Change: Canada's Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022 is guided by a vision of Canada where all Canadians benefit from equitable access to and participation in the economic, cultural, social and political spheres. The Strategy builds a foundation for long-term action by supporting three guiding principles: demonstrating federal leadership, empowering communities, and building awareness and changing attitudes.
The Government of Canada is engaged to take a leading role in addressing systemic racism and discrimination when found to exist within federal institutions and in public policies, programs and services. Recognizing the need for government action to be coordinated, an Anti-Racism Secretariat has been established to lead work across government to coordinate federal action, and identify and develop further areas for action through engagement with communities and Indigenous Peoples, stakeholders, and other levels of government.
Many Voices One Mind
In 2017, Gina Wilson, Canada’s federal Deputy Minister Champion for Indigenous Federal Employees, led the Interdepartmental Circles on Indigenous Representation. Through consultations with current and past federal public servants, these Circles sought to better understand the challenges and barriers faced by Indigenous people within the Public Service.
The strategy developed by the Circles, entitled Many Voices One Mind: A Pathway to Reconciliation, is a whole-of-government strategy that seeks to reduce and remove barriers to Public Service employment encountered by Indigenous people, and to capitalize on the diversity of experience and ideas that Indigenous employees bring to the Public Service.
In response, CSC launched the Connecting Spirits, Creating Opportunities (CSCO) initiative in 2019. The initiative seeks to support the career development of Indigenous employees working in the Indigenous Continuum of Care (ICOC). The CSCO is an initiative to support Indigenous employees in the ICOC to help advance their careers and retain their skills and perspectives in CSC. Doing so will ensure Indigenous offenders have access to culturally competent Indigenous staff, interventions and programs, and that they receive the culturally-grounded support they require. CSC recognizes that Indigenous staff members play a vital role in supporting Indigenous offenders through their healing journey.
CSC is guided by the principles of Beyond 2020, the Public Service commitment to focus on mindsets and behaviours that build a more agile, innovative, more inclusive, and better-equipped Public Service. Various initiatives are in place to ensure the organization is equipped to promote inclusive staffing practices and creative problem-solving to deliver meaningful and culturally-safe interventions and services to meet the needs of Indigenous offenders.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) reveals that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people. The Report delivered 231 Calls for Justice directed at governments, institutions, social service providers, industries and all Canadians. 12 of these Calls to Justice are directed at CSC, and four (4) are directed at all levels of government tied to corrections.
CSC continues to address the Calls to Justice #157-167 & #169. These Calls to Justice guide CSC’s work towards enhancing correctional outcomes for Indigenous women and gender-diverse people.
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Canada has committed to a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership, and rooted in the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Since May 2016, Canada is a full supporter, without qualification, of the declaration.
The UNDRIP is a document that describes both individual and collective rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world. It offers guidance on cooperative relationships with Indigenous Peoples to states, the United Nations, and other international organizations based on the principles of equality, partnership, good faith and mutual respect.
Socio-Economic Determinants of Crime
Indigenous people are disproportionately over-represented in federal penitentiaries in comparison to non-Indigenous offenders. High rates of Indigenous incarceration can be attributed to past and ongoing effects of colonialism. The history of colonization continues to impact Indigenous communities through cultural alienation, territorial dispossession, displacement, intergenerational trauma, systemic discrimination, and socio-economic marginalization.
Understanding the impacts of colonialism and how systems of justice can contribute to its legacy allows us to identify socio-economic determinants of crime for Indigenous people. By doing so, CSC can appropriately recognize and address these needs in a culturally appropriate manner to increase the success of rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Indigenous offenders represents 8% of low needs offenders, but 37% of high needs offenders.
Indigenous offenders represents 14% of low risk offenders, but 34% of high risk offenders.
The Indigenous offender population differs markedly from the non-Indigenous population in a number of areas. As the graph below shows, Indigenous offenders tend to be younger, be more likely to have served a previous federal sentence, be in custody more often for an offence involving violence, have higher risk and need ratings, and have a higher rate of gang affiliations.
Differences also exist in criminogenic profiles between First Nations, Métis and Inuit federally sentenced persons. These patterns pose challenges to ensuring alignment between policy initiatives, decision-making regarding correctional interventions, and the criminogenic profiles and unique needs of different Indigenous offender groups.
Although Indigenous offenders are often examined as one sub-population, First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders have distinct traditions, cultures and worldviews. CSC research underscores that they have unique characteristics that need to be understood and taken into account by decision- and policy-makers.
According to Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census, Indigenous Peoples comprised 4.9% (n=1,673,780) of the total Canadian population. This value represents an increase from 3.8% in 2006 and 2.8% in 1996. Based on information collected in the 2016 Census, the Indigenous population has grown 42.5% since 2006. These statistics are important because they provide context for the over-representation and diversity of Indigenous offenders in the federal correctional system.
The total number of offenders under CSC jurisdiction has remained stable in recent years. At the end of fiscal year 2019-2020, CSC was responsible for 23,101, offenders. Of these, 13,719 were incarcerated, and 9,382 were under community supervision.
While Indigenous people accounted for approximately 5% of the Canadian population, they represented 26% of the overall population under CSC jurisdiction at the end of 2019-2020. Indigenous offenders represented 30% of the population in custody and 20% of the population under community supervision.
The population of Indigenous women increased 21% since 2015-2016. Indigenous women now represent 34% of all women under CSC jurisdiction. The over-representation was even more pronounced for the in-custody population, as Indigenous women made up 41% of the total population of women in custody at year-end 2019-2020.
In 2019-2020, Indigenous offenders represented 30% of the population in custody. This represents a 35% increase since 2009-2010. First Nations and Métis offenders were more likely to be incarcerated and supervised in the Prairie and Pacific Regions, compared to Inuit offenders, who were more likely to reside in the Ontario and Quebec Regions.
The First Nations offender population is the fastest-growing Indigenous group under CSC jurisdiction, having increased 17% (3,520 to 4,109) since 2015-2016. In comparison, the Métis offender population has increased 16% (1,473 to 1,721) since 2015-16. The Inuit offender population, however, has seen a decrease of 14% (229 to 197) during the same period.
Assessment and Admission
The assessment stage for Indigenous offenders is important because it presents opportunities for CSC to gather and consider individual and collective Indigenous Social History (ISH) factors, and encourages offenders to engage in the Indigenous Continuum of Care. At this stage, Indigenous offenders are provided Elder/Spiritual Advisor and Indigenous Liaison Officer (ILO) services, as well as information about cultural and spiritual programs, Healing Lodges, and sections 81 and 84 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA).
Within CSC, there is no formal application for Indigenous services. One of the benchmarks used is an offender’s response to the Intake question regarding interest in following a traditional healing path. In terms of federally-sentenced persons, at the end of 2019-2020, approximately 4,000 Indigenous offenders were interested in following a traditional healing path.
The security classification and placement of offenders in CSC institutions is based on measures that are consistent with the protection of society, staff, and offenders, as well as effective management of their sentence and assistance in their successful rehabilitation and reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens.
CSC policy requires consideration of ISH in case management decisions impacting Indigenous offenders, including initial security classification and penitentiary placement. ISH involves looking at the systemic and background factors that have affected the lives of Indigenous people. It provides an evidence-based rationale for considering alternative, culturally restorative options for Indigenous offenders in the correctional environment.
An understanding of ISH guides CSC in working more effectively, and in more culturally appropriate ways, with each Indigenous offender. This allows CSC to better address an offender’s needs, thus increasing their reintegration potential and enhancing opportunities for healing.
In 2019-2020, Indigenous offenders (n=1,265) represented 28% of all admissions on Warrant of Committal (WOC). Over the last five (5) years, there has been a gradual increase in the percentage of admissions Indigenous offenders represent, from 25% in 2015-2016. Indigenous women (n= 120) represented 34% of all women admitted on WOC in 2019-2020. This compares to 33% (n= 128) in 2015-2016.
Security classification reviews and initial placements are individualized decisions made by Institutional Heads following a thorough review of an offender’s file. Prominent factors feeding into these decisions include a qualified case management team’s clinical appraisal of institutional adjustment, escape risk and risk to public safety; an evidence-based Custody Rating Scale (CRS); and, when required, psychological risk assessments, Indigenous social history, or any other relevant case-specific information.
Overall, in 2019-2020, a higher rate of Indigenous offenders who obtained a CRS recommendation for a minimum-security classification experienced a change to a higher-security environment, compared to non-Indigenous offenders. As illustrated below, 47% (n=150) of Indigenous offenders who obtained a minimum-security CRS recommendation experienced a change to a higher security level, compared to 31% (n=418) of non-Indigenous offenders. The gap in correctional results in this area between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders remains high.
Given legislative requirements, CSC classifies and places offenders in institutions according to their level of risk, and offers interventions, programs, and services that will meet their needs.
In 2019-2020, 19% of Indigenous offenders in custody had a minimum offender security level (OSL), 70% had a medium OSL, and 12% had a maximum OSL. In comparison, 38% of non-Indigenous offenders in custody had a minimum OSL, 54% had a medium OSL, and 8% had a maximum OSL.
The percentage of Indigenous offenders in custody, who had a maximum OSL, has remained relatively constant over the past three (3) years. There has been a slight increase in the number of Indigenous offenders in custody with a medium OSL (from 64% in 2017-18 to 70% in 2019-20), and a decreasing number of Indigenous offenders in custody with a minimum OSL (from 25% in 2017-2018 to 19% in 2019-2020).
In 2018-2019, a higher rate of Indigenous offenders, for whom the CRS indicated a score consistent with a minimum-security classification, experienced a change to higher security, compared to non-Indigenous offenders.
Between 2015-16 and 2019-20 Indigenous offenders in higher security show a steady decrease from -12% to -16%. During that same time period, Indigenous offenders in higher security environments shifted from 11% to 13%.
Between 2015-16 and 2019-20 non-Indigenous offenders show a steady decrease from -12% to -16% in lower security environments. During that same time period, non-Indigenous offenders in higher security environments shifted from 15% to 13%.
Increasing the engagement of Indigenous communities in planning the release of Indigenous offenders is critical to the achievement of better correctional outcomes for Indigenous offenders. To address the disproportionate incarceration of Indigenous offenders, CSC encourages Indigenous communities to use the full legislative intent of the CCRA, specifically sections 81 and 84. Healing Lodges and section 84 releases continue to play a key role in providing Indigenous offenders with culturally responsive interventions and support that foster their successful reintegration.
Healing Lodges operate in two ways: those operated by CSC in close collaboration with Indigenous communities, and those managed by an Indigenous governing body or Indigenous organization under section 81 of the CCRA. There are currently four (4) CSC-operated Healing Lodges across the Pacific and Prairie Regions.
Section 81 of the CCRA allows for the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (or a person authorized by the Minister) to enter into an agreement with an Indigenous governing body or Indigenous organization for the provision of correctional services to Indigenous federally-sentenced persons. There are currently five (5) section 81 agreements in place with Indigenous governing bodies and organizations comprising six (6) section 81 Healing Lodges.
Of the 10 Healing Lodges housing federal offenders, seven (7) are minimum-security facilities for men, and three (3) are multi-level facilities accepting women at both the minimum-security level and, on a case by case basis, the medium-security level.
In 2019, CSC signed an agreement with the Indigenous Women’s Healing Centre’s Eagle Women’s Lodge, which became the sixth section 81 Healing Lodge for federally-sentenced persons.
The Eagle Women’s Lodge offers holistic programs that focus on self-identity, self-esteem, the intergenerational cycle of violence, grief and loss, as well as intergenerational trauma. Onsite opportunities to enhance education and employment skills also promote personal and spiritual growth. Residents are given the opportunity to heal, grow and reconnect with Indigenous culture through activities, support and ceremonies offered by Elders/Spiritual Advisors. With more access to family, community support and programs, Indigenous women offenders benefit from gradual and structured release in an Indigenous cultural environment, leading to anticipated improvements in long-term reintegration results. This multi-level facility accommodates up to 30 women.
CSC has reviewed and is currently updating a number of its policies to ensure timely assessment of applications by Indigenous governing bodies and Indigenous organizations for a section 81 agreement, while strengthening how CSC processes the transfer of Indigenous offenders to Healing Lodges as part of their reintegration plan to the community.
CSC is currently in discussions with a number of Indigenous governing bodies and Indigenous organizations interested in a section 81 agreement with the Minister for the care and custody of Indigenous offenders. CSC remains committed to ongoing partnerships with Indigenous communities through regular engagement sessions.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action #35: call upon the federal government to eliminate barriers to the creation of additional Aboriginal health lodges within the federal correctional system.
Overall, 1,106 Indigenous offenders admitted on WOC in 2019-2020 were informed of the legislative provisions of section 81 of the CCRA. Of those, 64% (n=713) expressed an interest in being transferred to the care and custody of an Indigenous organization or governing body, pursuant to an agreement under section 81 of the CCRA.
Section 84 Release Planning
Section 84 of the CCRA provides the legislative framework for CSC to work with Indigenous communities in the development of release plans for Indigenous offenders.
Section 84 release plans apply to offenders who want to serve their eventual conditional or statutory release in an Indigenous community, or in an urban area with the support and direction of an Indigenous organization. Section 84 of the CCRA also applies to offenders who are subject to long-term supervision orders (LTSOs). The offender is informed of the section 84 release process at the preliminary assessment stage of the Intake process. The purpose of starting the process earlier in the sentence is to allow inmates time and opportunity to get support from their community as soon as possible. Timely communication, with the offender’s permission, can help the case management team (CMT) formulate a gradual and structured release plan.
The EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections has identified section 84 release plans as one of eight areas of priority focus. For the next two years, the Sub-Committee will review the section 84 release planning process for opportunities to streamline it, and to enhance participation.
Elders and Spiritual Advisors provide spiritual, ceremonial and counselling support to Indigenous offenders wishing to engage in the Indigenous Continuum of Care. Services include assisting offenders to follow a healing path that supports their correctional plan and advising institutional staff on ceremonies, ceremonial objects, traditional practices and protocols.
To provide the necessary support, guidance and recommendations to CSC in the contracting of Elders/Spiritual Advisors, each region established an Elder Circle, Advisory Group or Elder Council. As part of CSC’s ongoing commitment to improving results for Indigenous offenders, Elder Orientation has been developed and implemented across the regions as Elders/Spiritual Advisors commence their contracts with CSC.
In 2019-2020, 78% of Indigenous offenders in custody received an Elder review during their sentence.
To enhance the provision of Elder services and to develop succession planning strategies to assist with Elder recruitment, CSC is developing a standardized Elder Helper contract. National Elder Helper Rates of Pay have been developed, consistent with the methodology used to define Elder Rates of Pay. In addition, CSC has commenced an internal audit of the management of Elder services.
Overview of Correctional Interventions
The intervention stage of the Indigenous Continuum of Care lays the foundation for Indigenous offenders’ reintegration into society. Interventions for Indigenous offenders must take into consideration the individual’s Indigenous culture and identity, as well as the systemic and background factors that may have contributed to their involvement in the criminal justice system. Consistent recognition of the historic trauma encountered by Indigenous people remains a key factor in the ongoing enhancement of CSC’s healing initiatives.
Correctional Programs are designed to address criminogenic needs and enhance opportunities for the successful reintegration of Indigenous offenders. Indigenous-specific programs were developed to respond to the spiritual and cultural needs of Indigenous offenders. When delivered with the guidance of Elders/Spiritual Advisors, they support and facilitate Indigenous offenders’ healing and foster their successful reintegration into the community.
Pathways Initiatives are designed to provide a healing environment for Indigenous offenders who are engaged in and committed to their personal healing path with more intensive healing interventions. They generate positive results for Indigenous offenders, including higher education upgrading, fewer serious institutional charges, a lower rate of involvement in security incidents, fewer positive random-sample urinalysis results, and a higher rate of discretionary release, compared to Indigenous offenders who do not participate in Pathways.
Education and Vocational Training
Indigenous offenders continue to show positive results in upgrading their education and obtaining vocational training and certificates while incarcerated. Since 2009-2010, the percentage of Indigenous offenders with an educational need referred for educational upgrading has improved considerably. In 2019-2020, Indigenous offenders successfully completed 96% of work releases overall.
Healing Lodges offer services and programs to Indigenous offenders in environments that honour and incorporate Indigenous Peoples’ traditions, beliefs, and practices. Interventions, including Elder/Spiritual Advisor services and ceremonies, are provided to Indigenous offenders with the goal of addressing the factors that led or contributed to their incarceration. One of the principal objectives of Healing Lodges is to prepare offenders for gradual transition and reintegration into the community, while providing a culturally responsive environment.
Indigenous Intervention Centres
As the foundation of the next phase of Indigenous Corrections, the National Indigenous Plan introduced the Indigenous Intervention Center (IIC) model, a conceptual construct designed to facilitate enhanced culturally appropriate interventions and reintegration support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders. The IIC model of interventions is described in greater detail in a subsequent section of this Report.
The Criminal Risk Index (CRI) is a research-based tool used to assess static risk and to guide decisions with respect to offender intervention levels. The CRI has been implemented for correctional program referrals for all offenders sentenced on or after January 8, 2018.
Since the implementation of the CRI, there have been measurable increases in program-intensity change rates for Indigenous offenders, posing a number of operational challenges. The EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections has identified the CRI as one of its areas of focus. Sub-Committee discussions have focused on the fact that, given that research has validated the CRI as accurately identifying programming need, overrides to lower-intensity programming may result in undertreating, unless combined with additive, restorative and culturally-responsive interventions to supplement correctional programming, which help reduce risk, when combined.
As such, the Sub-Committee decided that, for First Nations, Métis and Inuit clients, more holistic approaches would need to be considered, including the consideration of culturally-responsive restorative options, Pathways, community-based programs, Elder services, etc. as valid additive services which, when combined with programming, augment the rehabilitative effectiveness of interventions to address need and reduce risk.
This approach represents a significant shift from the current model of correctional planning, which is normed on a non-Indigenous population. A clear framework and policy guidance will be developed to ensure a consistent approach and application.
EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections
The EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections has identified the CRI’s impact on program referrals for Indigenous offenders as one of its thematic focus priorities. The Sub-Committee continues to address the need to provide effective interventions to respond to Indigenous offenders’ needs in a timely manner.
Median Days to Program Enrolment
In 2019-2020, Indigenous offenders waited a median of 22 days longer to start their first readiness correctional programs, compared to non-Indigenous offenders (108 days vs 86 days), a significant improvement from one (1) year earlier, when the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders was a median of 35 days (200 days vs 165 days). In 2019-2020, Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders encountered similar wait times to start their first main correctional programs.
Correctional program completion is a principal driver to maximizing the percentage of offenders acquiring discretionary release at the time of their first eligible release date.
CSC continues to implement measures to improve results for correctional program completion prior to full parole eligibility date (FPED) by promoting correctional program delivery at the earliest time in an offender’s sentence. In 2019-2020, the completion rate for Indigenous-specific programs remained high at 75%. However, the completion rate has decreased compared to previous years.
CSC has created the Program Planning and Reporting Advisory Group (PPRAG) to enhance communication on correctional program delivery and to identify best practices to improve performance results of correctional programming. This group includes regional representatives who serve to strengthen the delivery of correctional programming.
For more information, please refer to the 2019-2020 Year-end Review
Education Referral and Education Upgrade
The Offender Education Program contributes to correctional interventions with services designed to provide offenders with basic literacy, academic, and personal development skills, which, in turn, enhance their capacity to effectively participate in other correctional interventions. The Program also offers participants an opportunity to improve their education qualifications, thereby increasing their likelihood of obtaining community employment and successfully reintegrating into the community.
Since 2015-2016, the percentage of Indigenous offenders with an educational need referred for educational upgrading within 120 days of admission has remained high.
In addition, Indigenous offenders with an educational need are being referred for educational upgrading at a higher rate than non-Indigenous offenders. In 2019-2020, 86% of Indigenous offenders were referred for educational upgrading within 120 days of admission, compared to 71% of non-Indigenous offenders.
CSC developed “A Teacher’s Resource Guide: Working with Indigenous Students in the Classroom” to assist teachers in being responsive to and inclusive of Indigenous students. The overall purpose of this resource guide is to support teachers in their continued efforts to work effectively and collaboratively with Indigenous students, and in doing so, being mindful of students’ Indigenous social history. In fiscal year 2019-2020, the resource guide was completed and made available to all teachers who have undergone the training.
For more information, please refer to the 2019-2020 Year-end Review
Bill C-83, an Act to Amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act
While the overall number of admissions to segregation per 1,000 offenders had improved since 2015-2016, Indigenous offenders continued to be admitted to segregation more frequently than non-Indigenous offenders.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) raised legal challenges to the practice of administrative segregation. Both cases were appealed to provincial courts of appeal. Though deciding the cases on different grounds, both appellate courts ultimately ruled the administrative segregation practices stipulated in federal legislation unconstitutional.
On June 21, 2019, Bill C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act, received Royal Assent. The resulting amendments to the CCRA eliminated administrative and disciplinary segregation, and introduced a new correctional model, which includes the use of Structured Intervention Units (SIUs) for inmates who cannot be managed safely within a mainstream inmate population. SIUs were implemented and became operational on November 30, 2019.
SIUs are distinct from administrative segregation. Inmates in a SIU have the opportunity to be outside of their cell for at least four (4) hours a day, including at least two (2) hours a day of meaningful human contact associating with others. They also have access to continued programming, receive inmate pay, and have leisure time and visits, with the goal of facilitating their reintegration into a mainstream population as soon as possible.
The new SIU model is an transformational initiative, which has significant impacts on CSC’s operations and work with offenders. Structured interventions, programming and health care are available to inmates in a safe and secure environment to address their specific risks and needs.
Bill C-83 for Indigenous Offenders
Bill C-83 introduced amendments to the CCRA which promote Indigenous communities’ self-determination by ensuring sufficient community resources to support Indigenous offenders’ successful reintegration through enhanced application of sections 81 and 84 of the CCRA.
Bill C-83 also introduced amendments to change "Aboriginal community" in sections 81 and 84 to "Indigenous governing body or any Indigenous organization". The new language aims to ensure that Indigenous organizations deliver the appropriate services to Indigenous offenders.
In line with the government priority of renewing nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous Peoples, increasing the engagement of Indigenous communities in planning the release of Indigenous offenders is critical to the achievement of correctional results for Indigenous offenders.
Institutional Charges and Security Incidents
Indigenous offenders continue to be involved in higher numbers of institutional adjustment incidents per 1,000 offenders, compared to non-Indigenous offenders. The number of serious institutional charges per 1,000 offenders was 379 for non-Indigenous offenders, compared to 644 for Indigenous offenders.
The increase in the number of Indigenous offenders involved in security incidents may have a negative impact on key areas of reintegration, such as escorted and unescorted absences, positive recommendations for day and full parole, and reclassification to lower security level.
A virtual meeting of District Directors across all regions took place in 2020 to inform the EXCOM Sub-committee’s focus on gaps in suspension and revocation rates for Indigenous offenders.
District Directors highlighted the increasing prevalence of Security Threat Groups (STGs) and the impact thereof on program attendance and the increasing rate of serious security incidents.
In 2019-2020 there were a total of 429 departures from Pathways, of which 53% (n=229) were successful completions.
- 55% (n=125) were transferred to lower security or to a Healing Lodge
- 45% (n= 104) received day or full parole
- Elder-driven healing initiative based on the Medicine Wheel that promotes holistic healing and reinforces a traditional Indigenous way of life
- Healing-intensive, providing one-to-one counselling, ceremonial access, and programming
Individual Healing Plan
- Supportive of the individual’s Healing Plan and Correctional Plan. Pathways participants demonstrate a commitment to responsible behaviours, and engage more actively and intensively in counselling and traditional Indigenous ceremonies.
- A stepping stone to lower security reclassification
The EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections has identified Pathways initiatives as one of its thematic focus priorities. A meeting with Pathways Coordinators across all regions occurred in 2020 to discuss and identify best practices for Pathways initiatives, along with specific recommendations to improve the Pathways model.
Day and Full Parole Hearings
Addressing the over-incarceration of Indigenous federally-sentenced persons by ensuring the correctional process is focused on improving discretionary release results and successful supervision of Indigenous offenders in the community remains one of CSC’s enduring corporate priorities. Case management practices continue to be strengthened in order to improve timely access to earliest parole eligibility date for Indigenous offenders, to increase community supervision opportunities through the section 84 release process, and to improve successful reintegration into the community.
Parole supervision is an essential component of an offender’s successful reintegration into the community. The postponement or waiver of day and full parole hearings effectively reduces the length of time during which offenders stand to benefit from a structured, supervised release into the community.
Offenders may waive or postpone their consideration for parole for any of number of reasons, including non-completion of correctional programming and lack of confidence.
Over the past five (5) years, the percentage of withdrawn day parole hearings has decreased for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders. In 2019-2020, 10% (n=191) of Indigenous offenders withdrew their day parole hearings, compared to 13% (n=178) in 2015-2016.
A gap remains between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders for percentage of withdrawn day parole hearings. This gap could be explained by various factors, including higher security classifications, institutionalisation and language barriers, particularly for Inuit offenders. CSC is working to holistically transform Indigenous corrections in order to target the root causes of this endemic gap.
The percentage of waived full parole hearings has also improved for Indigenous offenders over the past five (5) years. In 2019-2020, 28% (n=947) of full parole hearings for Indigenous offenders were waived, compared to 19% (n=1,828) for non-Indigenous offenders. This represents an improvement from 2015-2016, when 45% (n=1,196) of full parole hearings for Indigenous offenders were waived, in comparison to 30% (n=2,705) for non-Indigenous offenders. Despite some improvement, Indigenous offenders continue to waive their full parole hearings at a higher rate than non-Indigenous offenders, though the gap is narrowing.
Elder-assisted hearings are available to offenders who are Indigenous and to those who have demonstrated a meaningful commitment to an Indigenous way of life. The objective of Elder- and community-assisted Parole Board of Canada (PBC) hearings is to create a responsive hearing process for Indigenous offenders. These hearings must adhere to the regular criteria for decision-making. If the offender requests it, an Elder may also conduct a ceremony—a smudge, a prayer or a song—before the hearing begins.
A community-assisted hearing is a hearing, which involves the application of section 84 of the CCRA. It includes participation of members of the Indigenous community where the offender may be released. The hearing follows an Elder-assisted format and may be held in the Indigenous community (reserve or urban community).
Discretionary first release, day parole or full parole, is the optimal release for any offender. The percentage of Indigenous offenders acquiring a discretionary release at the time of their first release has improved significantly since 2015-2016; however, a significant gap remains between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders. Correctional program completion is a principal driver of maximizing the percentage of offenders acquiring discretionary release at the time of their first eligible release date.
In 2019-2020, Indigenous offenders who participated in Pathways initiatives had a higher percentage of discretionary releases, compared to Indigenous offenders who did not participate in Pathways (56% vs. 44%).
Discretionary Release & Section 84
In 2019-2020, 73% of Indigenous offenders with a section 84 release plan acquired a discretionary release at the time of their first release. This compares to 33% of Indigenous offenders who did not have a section 84 release plan.
The benefits of a section 84 release plan are illustrated by these positive results. Culturally safe and relevant interventions improve correctional outcomes for Indigenous offenders. Using an evidence-based approach, CSC is focusing its efforts on maximizing the use of and improving access to these initiatives. Notably, participation rates suggest that section 84 release planning is underutilized, due, in part, to the complexity of the process and community capacity limitations.
In order to maximize the utilisation of the section 84 release process and to improve reintegration results for Indigenous offenders, CSC has created "Section 84 - the Path Home", an automated reminder system that sends emails to staff about offenders who have indicated an interest in or are pursuing a CCRA section 84 conditional release. The system is designed to make the CMT interaction with the section 84 application process easier.
The goal of the system is to achieve greater success in releasing Indigenous offenders to their home communities, which contributes to healthier and safer communities across the country.
Please refer to page 22 to learn more about the actions taken by the EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections to enhance the section 84 release process.
Discretionary Release & Section 81 Healing Lodge
In order to accurately compare results between Indigenous offenders released from a Healing Lodge (CSC-operated and/or section 81 Healing Lodge) and those released from other institutions, only the results for offenders with a minimum-security classification prior to release were included in the analysis on the graph below.
The profile of Indigenous offenders with a minimum OSL who reside in a Healing Lodge differs markedly from the profile of Indigenous offenders with a minimum OSL incarcerated in CSC institutions. In addition, the risk profile of Indigenous offenders released from a Healing Lodge differs from that of Indigenous offenders released from other CSC institutions.
Comparing all Indigenous offenders with a minimum OSL prior to their first release, Indigenous offenders at Healing Lodges have a higher risk level than Indigenous offenders incarcerated in other CSC institutions.
These noted differences in population profiles may explain, at least in part, the lower percentage of Indigenous offenders with a minimum OSL released from a Healing Lodge, who obtain day or full parole at the time of their first release, compared to Indigenous offenders with a minimum OSL released from other CSC institutions.
A Meaningful Life Post-Release
As described in the Offender Profile section of this Report, colonization has affected Indigenous communities and impacted socio-economic determinants of crime, which include lack of formal education and employment. According to academic research, these factors are directly linked to increased crime rates.
CSC has a legislated responsibility to provide rehabilitation services to offenders in its care to prevent recidivism and to keep communities safe.
The notion of rehabilitation has evolved over time and now extends beyond behavioural programming. To ensure a successful rehabilitation, CSC must release offenders with all the essential tools one needs to function and thrive in the community, including in terms of finding meaningful employment. This is particularly important when dealing with Indigenous offenders who are more likely to face disadvantages and barriers that impede employment.
CORCAN’s Indigenous Offender Employment Initiative
As part of the larger Government of Canada and Public Safety focus on enhancing services to and opportunities for Indigenous people, CSC commenced implementation of the Indigenous Offender Employment Initiative (IOEI). Specifically intended for Indigenous offenders, the IOEI enhances on-the-job and vocational training, apprenticeships related to employment in construction, and manufacturing-related employment. The IOEI also provides transitional employment and enhances support services to assist offenders with finding and maintaining a job in the community. In 2019-2020, two new Community Industries were implemented, one in Vancouver and one in Ottawa. New vocational and on-the-job training became available in women offender institutions, in conjunction with the Indigenous Intervention Centres in the Ontario and Pacific Regions.
For more information, please refer to the 2019-2020 Department Results Report.
Community Reintegration Fund
CSC will continue to review a range of opportunities to work with Indigenous communities and partners at the local, regional and national levels to respond to the needs of Indigenous offenders. As a result of Budget 2017, dedicated funding supports trauma, addictions and life skills counselling for Indigenous offenders at the IICs in CSC institutions and at the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge.
Supervision & Revocation Rates
EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections
The EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections has identified Suspension and Revocation Rates as one of its eight focus priorities. Meetings with District Directors occurred, and a series of opportunities were identified as quick wins, as well as areas requiring further analysis and/or resource investments. Regional input helped identify seven areas of focus requiring further analysis by a dedicated inter-sectoral tiger team.
Correctional results pertaining to the supervision of offenders continue to show a gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders. Indigenous offenders continue to experience a greater rate of revocations without offence despite continuous improvement over the years.
Convictions While on Supervision
Minor and moderate convictions on supervision include any offence listed in Schedule II of the CCRA, as well as any non-scheduled offences. While a gap remains in this area between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders, the number of minor and moderate convictions incurred by Indigenous offenders during supervision improved considerably, compared to 2014-2015.
Serious convictions on supervision include any offence listed in Schedule I of the CCRA. More Indigenous offenders continue to incur a serious conviction during supervision, compared to non-Indigenous offenders.
CSC research shows that offenders granted day or full parole have lower rates of reoffending before their sentences end than do those released at statutory release. Research also indicates that most offenders who are assessed as having a low risk of reoffending are more likely to be successfully supervised in the community, with a lower likelihood of reoffending before the end of their sentence.
CSC has made progress in the assessment and intervention phases of the Indigenous Continuum of Care; however, more must be done to support the successful reintegration of Indigenous offenders, primarily through enhanced access to discretionary release.
As the previous page shows, while the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders who complete their supervision successfully has narrowed over the past five (5) years, it remains significant. 45% of Indigenous offenders who reached SED in 2019-2020 successfully completed their supervision, compared to 65% of non-Indigenous offenders.
The percentage of offenders who were re-admitted to federal custody within five (5) years of reaching SED has improved for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders. Despite improvement in this area, a significant gap remains between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders who return to federal custody within five (5) years post-SED, and the gap shows little variation over the last five (5) years.
Supervision Results at Healing Lodges
With their focus on restorative justice and culturally enhanced rehabilitation, Healing Lodges warrant specific consideration as operations, which are distinct from the mainstream institutions. Their work is devoted to high-value engagements, including cultural preservation and restoration, which have vital implications for Indigenous Peoples. Healing Lodges help address gaps in services to Indigenous offenders and improve community reintegration results.
73% of Indigenous offenders with a minimum OSL released from a Healing Lodge in 2019-2020 acquired a discretionary release at the time of their first release.
90% of Indigenous offenders with minimum OSL who reached SED by year-end 2019-2020 and were released from a Healing Lodge completed their supervision successfully.
Indigenous offenders with a minimum OSL released from a Healing Lodge have a lower percentage of successful supervision, compared to those released from other CSC institutions. Despite this trend, and despite representing a lower percentage of discretionary releases at the time of their first release, Indigenous offenders with a minimum OSL released from a Healing Lodge have a lower percentage of return to federal custody five (5) years post-SED than those released from other CSC institutions.
Offenders present various risks and needs throughout their sentence, and CSC must be able to provide the right type of accommodation, at the right location, and at the right time, in order to better respond to the changing and increasing demand for offender community accommodation.
Correctional outcomes reflect the importance of Healing Lodges in the reintegration of Indigenous offenders. Favorable results are also associated with participation in initiatives involving direct contact with the community, with a higher percentage of Indigenous offenders with a section 84 release plan completing their supervision successfully, compared to Indigenous offenders who did not have a section 84 release plan, thereby placing greater focus on enhancing the involvement of the community in the reintegration of offenders.
IID is collaborating with the Research Branch on a research project to examine the effect of Healing Lodges on the reintegration of Indigenous offenders, and to explore the overall Healing Lodge experience. The study will follow a mixed-method design where both quantitative and qualitative data will be examined.
The National Indigenous Plan
The National Indigenous Plan is the foundation for CSC to respond to the majority of the recommendations from the Office of the Auditor General’s (OAG's) 2016 Fall Report—Preparing Indigenous Offenders for Release. The Plan provides a national framework to transform Indigenous case management and corrections. The Plan includes streamlining existing Indigenous resources and services to ensure that those offenders choosing to access the Indigenous Continuum of Care interventions are prioritized for placement at specific maximum-, medium- and minimum-security sites.
As part of the National Indigenous Plan, Elder and Indigenous liaison services continue to be available at all institutions. As well, section 84 release planning begins two (2) years prior to an offender’s day parole eligibility date, to ensure that Indigenous communities can actively engage in release planning of their members.
CSC’s National Indigenous Plan transforms Indigenous case management and corrections by enhancing various policies, operations and practices to better meet the needs of Indigenous offenders. Key components include:
- the IIC model of interventions, established across the country, covering all institutions for women and select institutions for men;
- amendments of policies to allow for the automatic review of Indigenous offenders following the completion of a correctional program, Pathways initiative or any significant event;
- enhancement of case management practices to ensure proper documentation of the contributions of culturally responsive interventions to reintegration results.
The National Indigenous Plan is part of CSC’s commitment to focusing collective attention on Indigenous Corrections, with a particular focus on proactive, informed and engaged case management, to improve reintegration results for Indigenous offenders.
The IICs are one of the components of the National Indigenous Plan. IICs ensure expedited access to Indigenous programs, to release planning pursuant to section 84 of the CCRA, and to reintegration options earlier in an offender’s sentence, with the support of community resources.
Who qualifies? Indigenous offenders who:
- are willing to participate in the Indigenous Continuum of Care
- are willing to work with an Elder
- have a short sentence (less than six years)
- are committed to begin moderate-intensity Indigenous programming (or require none).
EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections
The EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections has identified IICs as one of its thematic focus priorities. Given the lower than expected participation rates of Indigenous offenders in IICs across all regions, CSC has removed the restriction on sex offences from the eligibility criteria for participation in the IIC model.
Enrollments in Culturally Responsive Programs
The National Indigenous Plan introduced an enhanced Performance Monitoring Strategy to reinforce the integrated approach of shared accountability for enhanced correctional outcomes for Indigenous offenders across CSC operations, from frontline staff to senior executives. This approach, which marked the cornerstone of the ICAF, was designed to foster demonstrable, sustained results.
The Indigenous Initiatives Directorate continues to work in collaboration with the Performance Measurement and Management Reports (PMMR) Division towards improving the collection of data related to the IIC model of interventions and their impact on correctional outcomes for both the IIC participant cohort and the larger Indigenous sub-population.
The first round of results specific to disaggregated performance indicators introduced in the National Indigenous Plan Performance Monitoring Strategy will be presented throughout this section of the ICAF.
The IIC model was designed to accelerate access to programming with the introduction of moderate-intensity hybrid programming, allowing offenders to commence programming at Intake. This early start to programming positions Indigenous offenders who are engaged to have increased access to additional opportunities, including work releases, conditional releases, transfers to Healing Lodges, and comprehensive section 84 release planning, in a more expeditious manner.
In 2019-2020, 85% of Indigenous offenders with an identified need for a Nationally Recognized Correctional Program (NRCP) enrolled prior to first release. To note, 94% of Indigenous offenders at an IIC with an identified need for a NRCP enrolled prior to first release.
At year-end 2019-2020, 74% of Indigenous offenders enrolled in cultural-specific Indigenous correctional programs, instead of mainstream correctional programs, prior to first release. This represents a 8% increase, compared to 2015-2016.
Completions of Culturally Responsive Programs
As previously noted, correctional program completion is a principal driver of discretionary release at time of first eligible release. CSC continues to implement measures to improve results for correctional program completions.
It is expected that results pertaining to Indigenous offenders’ participation in and completion of correctional programs will improve as Correctional Program Officers (CPO) / Indigenous Correctional Program Officers (ICPO) become increasingly better equipped to be responsive to the unique needs of Indigenous offenders, through training on how to integrate and consider ISH in decision-making, and through enhanced partnerships between Elders and CPOs / ICPOs.
Successful Transitions & Transfers
CSC thoroughly assesses an offender's risk to public safety before a decision is made regarding a potential transfer to a Healing Lodge. The safety of staff and inmates and the security of the facility are paramount when making decisions about inmate accommodation and transfers.
All transfers are made in accordance with the CCRA, and CSC performs risk assessments before transferring an offender. Transfers play an important role in CSC's ability to manage the inmate population, while allowing inmates to have access to programs that may not be available at their current institution. This also allows for inmates to be housed in an environment that is consistent with their cultural and linguistic needs.
Since involvement in security incidents can have a negative impact on key areas of reintegration, improvement in this area is particularly meaningful.
As illustrated below, IIC participants incur considerably lower rates of serious security charges while in custody than their non-Indigenous and non-participant Indigenous counterparts. This finding suggests that IIC participants are likely to have increased access to reintegration supports, and are therefore more likely to have a safe and successful reintegration.
These early results indicate that an innovative strategy, such as the National Indigenous Plan, promises to reduce gaps in results between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders, thereby signaling a change in course to counter the endemic over-representation of Indigenous people in the federal correctional system.
At year-end 2019-2020, IIC participants had a rate of 310 serious charges per 1,000 offenders in federal custody, compared to 403 serious charges for non-Indigenous offenders and 645 for non-participant Indigenous offenders.
This result suggests that increased access to culturally-appropriate services, interventions and supports seeking to address the specific needs of Indigenous offenders may have a positive impact on correctional outcomes.
While preliminary successes of the National Indigenous Plan can be attributed to the streamlining of existing Indigenous resources to enhance access for offenders choosing the Indigenous Continuum of Care, they may also be attributable, at least in part, to the level of engagement of the offenders who are willing to participate in the Continuum and to work with an Elder. CSC should continue to explore ways to increase offender engagement in order to improve correctional results for all.
Section 84 Release Process
At year-end 2019-2020, IIC participants were more likely to have an established section 84 release plan, and were more likely to be released in accordance with the section 84 release process. Section 84 releases are important, because they allow Indigenous communities and governing bodies to be involved in welcoming individuals back to the community, thereby promoting safe and meaningfully engaged communities, while supporting reintegration success.
Release & Supervision
At year-end 2019-2020, IIC participants were more than twice as likely to be granted a discretionary release, the optimal type of release, when compared to non-participant Indigenous offenders. Increasing rates of discretionary release for Indigenous offenders is a strategic priority for CSC.
Further, rates of supervision suspension for IIC participants at year-end 2019-2020 were well below the rates for other Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders, showing a significant difference, as illustrated in the graph below. Lower rates of supervision suspensions can be an indication of the success of interventions, services and supports received by IIC participants.
Offenders on conditional release successfully reaching sentence expiry without re-admission is a key marker of a safe and successful reintegration.
As illustrated on this page, a gap remains between the results of Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders for this performance indicator. Initial results for IIC participants appear to support the effectiveness of culturally-appropriate interventions and services for Indigenous offenders in addressing this long-standing gap in results.
Overall, the initial release and supervision results for IIC participants indicate the National Indigenous Plan is contributing to improved outcomes for Indigenous offenders and to closing endemic gaps between results for Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders.
CSC will continue to double down on its efforts to support the successful reintegration of Indigenous offenders, to promote safe communities and to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous people in the federal correctional system.
Population of Indigenous Women Serving Federal Sentences
In 1989, the federal government commissioned a task force to review the circumstances of federally-sentenced women and to chart a new direction. The task force released its report, Creating Choices, in April 1990.
For 30 years, the five principles of Creating Choices – empowerment, meaningful and responsible choices, respect and dignity, supportive environments, and shared responsibility – have guided CSC in the development of policies, programs and interventions that address the needs and risks of CSC’s diverse women offender population. The principles of Creating Choices are the driving force behind a number of advances, including institutional design, correctional interventions, operations, mental health interventions and human resources.
CSC’s approach to working with Indigenous women is holistic, woman-centred, and founded on the principles identified in Creating Choices, the National Strategy on Aboriginal Corrections, and the Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections. Addressing the needs of Indigenous women offenders through a gender- and culturally-specific approach contributes to improved public safety and a better quality of life for women.
The CSC population of Indigenous women has increased 21% since 2015-2016. Indigenous women now represent 34% of all women under CSC jurisdiction. While some regions reduced the number of Indigenous women incarcerated in their facilities, others experienced near-exponential growth. The Atlantic Region sustained the most growth, with a 41% percentage increase over a course of five (5) years.
The total number of Indigenous women under CSC jurisdiction has remained stagnant in recent years. At the end of fiscal year 2019-2020, CSC was responsible for the care of 487 Indigenous women. Of these, 284 were incarcerated, while 203 were under community supervision. While Indigenous women account for approximately 4% of the Canadian population, they represented 34% of the overall population of women under CSC jurisdiction at the end of 2019-2020. As seen from the graph below, Indigenous women represented 41% of the women offender population in custody, a 28% increase since 2009-2010.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) noted this growing over-representation of Indigenous women in corrections. CSC understands that the over-representation of Indigenous women in the criminal justice system, as both victims and offenders, is rooted in endemic societal, economic, cultural and legal discrimination.
CSC is committed to addressing the disproportionate incarceration of Indigenous persons, and ensuring that Indigenous stakeholders are meaningfully engaged in the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of Indigenous offenders, through community-based programming, interventions and support services, as part of its efforts to contribute to the government’s focus on building a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.
EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections
Addressing the over-representation of Indigenous women in federal corrections is one of eight strategic priorities clearly identified as an area of focus of the Sub-committee’s work. Specifically with respect to Indigenous women, the Sub-committee is examining factors related to program participation and completion, recidivism and community reintegration, as well as the training of front-line staff, with the view to supporting women in re-establishing healthy and productive lives.
Assessment & Admission
Indigenous women represent 34% of all women admitted on WOC in 2019-2020. This compares to 33% in 2015-2016.
Indigenous women continue to be over-represented at Medium Security, compared to non-Indigenous women (69% and 40%). Correspondently, Indigenous women are under-represented at Minimum Security, compared to non-Indigenous women (22% vs 60%).
CSC implemented a comprehensive model of women offender correctional programming in 2010. This model includes the Indigenous Women Offender Correctional Programs (IWOCP), also known as the Circle of Care. The IWOCP responds to Indigenous women's unique, culturally-specific needs. This model is designed to strike a balance between a healing- and a skills-based approach. All of the programs in the IWOCP are Elder-assisted, trauma-informed, and include content on problematic substance use, violence and victimization. With the assistance of Elders, participants develop healing plans that include strategies to cope with everyday life. Indigenous Peer Educator support programs are also in place.
Indigenous women continue to wait longer than their non-Indigenous counterparts to start their first institutional Nationally Recognized Correctional Program (NRCP). In 2019-2020, Indigenous women waited 125 days, compared to 101 days for non-Indigenous women. As seen below, 86% of Indigenous women with an identified need for a NRCP completed such prior to first release. This compared to 94% of non-Indigenous women. Notably, the percentage of Indigenous women who complete such has decreased considerably since 2015-2016.
Reintegration: Day & Full Parole Hearings
The percentage of withdrawn day parole and waived full parole hearings has improved for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women continue to withdraw their day parole hearings at a higher percentage than non-Indigenous, and the gap is widening. Notably, there was a 27% decrease in withdrawn day parole hearings for Indigenous women between 2015-2016 to 2019-2020.
As previously mentioned, discretionary first release is the optimal release for any offender. The percentage of Indigenous women acquiring a discretionary release at the time of their first release has improved significantly since 2015-2016. However, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women remains significant.
Reintegration: Employment & Vocational Training
Correctional results pertaining to the supervision of offenders continue to show gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women continue to experience a greater rate of revocations without offence. Despite an improvement in results from 2015-2016 to 2018-2019, this fiscal year shows a considerable increase in the number of Indigenous women who experienced a revocation without offence. Further, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women widened over the past five (5) years.
Additionally, in 2019-2020, Indigenous women were less likely to successfully reach SED without experiencing a revocation, new charge or conviction during supervision than non-Indigenous women.
As part of the Sub-Committee’s efforts to analyze the reasons for gaps in suspension and revocation rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, the Women Offender Sector undertook a qualitative file review of sample revocation cases, and identified that a high percentage of women whose release was revoked had breached their condition to abstain and/or were unemployed at the time of suspension.
The review noted that Indigenous women offenders who were revoked were more likely to have their release maintained at least once prior to being revoked, suggesting efforts on the part of CSC to maintain the release.
As CSC continues to implement reintegration initiatives, doubling down on efforts to strengthen reintegration support for Indigenous women offenders as they transition from the institution to a life in the community, reintegration results are expected to improve.
Inuit Offender Population Overview
Inuit offenders have unique linguistic, cultural, spiritual, and geographic considerations. While Indigenous people within Canada may share similarities in worldviews, each group has unique spiritual and cultural values, languages, dialects, and customs.
Inuit speak Inuktitut, and there are numerous dialects that vary from region to region. Inuit also have unique spiritual beliefs which are distinct from those of First Nations and Métis cultures, and have different ceremonies and cultural practices.
In addition to these distinctions, many Inuit under federal jurisdiction come from geographically isolated regions of Canada’s Arctic (the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Quebec, and Labrador), and when incarcerated in the south, can experience a significant culture shock.
- The average age for an Inuk is 27.7 years
- Inuit make up approximately 85% of the population in Nunavut
Living Arrangements Basic Needs
- 26.2% of Inuit housing is in need of major repairs, with 51.7% of Inuit living in crowded conditions
- Food insecurity remains a significant risk for Inuit today due to the high cost of food and living in the North
- Access to potable water is a significant health issue in Nunangat
Health & Well-Being
- Currently, the suicide rate of Inuit is among the highest in the world. It is 11 times the national average
Education & Employment
- 47.1% of Inuit have at least a high school diploma, compared with 89.2% for the non-Indigenous population
- The unemployment rate is at 23.3% for Inuit, compared with 6.1% for non-Indigenous people
- The median income in Nunavut is $30,699, compared with $106,590 for non-Inuit in Nunavut
The data above is taken from Canada’s 2016 Census. It is important to note that not all Indigenous people participate in the Canadian Census. Some Indigenous people choose not to because they do not view Canada as their country. Some live in isolated communities and have limited access to internet and other means of communication. These factors have an impact on the accuracy of the data.
For more information, refer to the Canadian School of Public Service training titled Inuit in Canada (K103)
In 2019-2020, Inuit offenders represented:
- 3.41% (n=141) of Indigenous offenders in custody
- 2.96% (n=56) of Indigenous offenders supervised in the community
49% of Inuit offenders are serving a sentence of less than four (4) years
48% of Inuit offenders are serving a sentence for a sex offence
75% of Inuit offenders are assessed as high risk
The total Inuit offender population has decreased 14% (n=-32) since 2015-2016. This compares to an increase of 15% (n=800) for Indigenous offenders.
Compared to First Nations and Métis offenders in custody, there are:
- More incarcerated Inuit offenders serving a sentence for a Schedule I offence (72% vs 62%)
- More incarcerated Inuit offenders serving a sentence for a sex offence (56% vs 85%)
- More incarcerated Inuit offenders interested in section 84 releases (74% vs 43%)
- Less incarcerated Inuit offenders who have an Elder Review (63% vs 74%)
In 1941, the Government of Canada registered each Inuk with a numeric identifier, as settlers struggled with Inuit naming traditions. Inuit were required to wear these “Eskimo disk numbers” at all times. Many Inuit would sew the disks in their clothing, hang them from their necks, or tattoo the number onto their forearms. Disk numbers where discontinued in the early 1970s.
The Anijaarniq Strategy
The Inuit offender population continues to be over-represented in the federal correctional system. Therefore, CSC develops programs and services that specifically foster the healing and reintegration of Inuit offenders. The Anijaarniq Inuit Strategy makes it easier for Inuit offenders to have a gradual return to the community, instead of being released on statutory release or at sentence expiry.
The Anijaarniq Inuit Strategy helps Inuit offenders build the resources they need to return to their communities and to remain there as contributing members.
Guiding Principles of the Anijaarniq Inuit Strategy:
- Inuit offenders should be housed and supervised in their home communities, if they wish;
- Meaningful partnerships with Northern communities to shape the Inuit strategy;
- The Inuit Continuum of Care must address offender risks and needs to ensure successful reintegration.
Core elements of the Anijaarniq Inuit Strategy:
- Establishing four (4) Inuit Centres of Excellence;
- Moving Inuit offenders to these Centres; and
- Making sure culturally appropriate interventions and services are available to Inuit offenders.
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) is the term used to describe Inuit epistemology or the Indigenous Knowledge of the Inuit.
The term translates directly as “that which Inuit have always known to be true”. Like other Indigenous knowledge systems, IQ is recognized to be a unified system of beliefs and knowledge characteristic of Inuit culture.
The Anijaarniq Strategy is informed by IQ.
|Inuktitut (Nunavik & Nunavut) Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit||Inuttitut (North Coast Labrador) Inuit Kaujimajatukagit||Description|
|Inuuqatigiitsiarniq||InoKatigetsianik||Respecting others, relationships, and caring for people|
|Tunnganarniq||Tunganatsianik||Fostering good spirit by being open, welcoming, and inclusive|
|Pijitsirniq||kiKatunnik pitaKatitsigiamut||Serving and providing for family and/or community|
|Aajiiqatigiinniq||AngiKatigennik||Decision-making through discussion and consensus|
|Pilimmaksarniq/ Pijariuqsarniq||Pivalliatitsinik ilisimajaugialinnik||Development of skills through observation, mentoring, practice, and effort|
|Piliriqatigiinniq/ Ikajuqatigiinniq||IkajuKatigennik InoKatigetsianikkut||Working together for a common cause|
|Qanuqtuurniq||Pilluangnugiamut sakKititsinik||Being innovative and resourceful|
|Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq||Avatittinik kamatsianik||Respect and care of the land, animals, and the environment|
“In fact, IQ is a living technology. It is a means of rationalizing through and action, a means of organizing tasks and resources, a means of organizing family and society into coherent wholes”
Jaypeetee Arnakuk (2000)
The Inuit Integrated Correctional Program (IICP) is a comprehensive correctional program model for Inuit men that spans an offender's entire sentence. It addresses multiple risk factors in a comprehensive and integrated manner through readiness, main, and maintenance programs.
The program is culturally based in order to respond to the needs of Inuit offenders. In keeping with cultural appropriateness, the program acknowledges the uniqueness of the Inuit population and includes ceremonial activities. Elders play an important role in providing cultural teachings and support.
Additionally, contemporary best practices are interwoven throughout the program. These include such theoretical influences as cognitive behavioural therapy, social learning theory, harm reduction, stages of change, motivational interviewing, and relapse prevention.
IICP was implemented in 2017-2018. During the first year, there were 31 enrolments. During fiscal year 2019-2020, there were 69 enrolments:
- 18 in IICP Primer
- 25 in IICP multi-target moderate
- 13 in IICP sex offender moderate/high
- 13 in IICP community maintenance
In 2019-2020, there were 136 program enrolments for Inuit men offenders overall.
Of those, 57% (n=77) were at the Inuit-clustered sites:
- 5 at Dorchester Institution
- 48 at the Federal Training Centre
- 14 at the Beaver Creek Institution
- 10 at the Bowden Institution
Section 84 Release and Inuit Offenders
In 2019-2020, 20% of Inuit offenders utilized the section 84 release process during their first release. This represents a 52% decrease of results for 2018-2019, when the section 84 release rate was 42%.
The number of revocations without offence per 1,000 offenders has improved for Inuit offenders. However, Inuit offenders incur a higher rate of technical revocations, compared to First Nations and Métis offenders.
Overall, 79% of Inuit offenders who reached SED in 2014-2015 were not re-admitted to federal custody within five (5) years. Notably, the percentage of Inuit offenders not re-admitted to federal custody has been decreasing over the last five (5) years.
EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections
The EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections has identified the necessity to continue to monitor progress on Inuit-specific outcomes as one of its overarching areas for consideration.
In the upcoming fiscal year, a virtual gathering for Inuit staff across the organization will take place to share experiences, challenges and needs. Further, an analysis of the Inuit offender population in each region will be prepared to examine opportunities to optimize regional resources.
The Indigenous Corrections Accountability Framework (ICAF) provides Indigenous Initiatives a chance to reflect on the work that has been done over the last fiscal year and the successes and challenges faced when working to improve correctional results for Indigenous offenders. It is through this reflection that IID can plan ahead and re-focus its efforts in pursuit of ever more meaningful supports for Indigenous people who have become involved with the criminal justice system.
The ICAF provides useful information to the EXCOM Sub-Committee on Indigenous Corrections, and allows for an evidence-based approach to enhancing Indigenous corrections. The renewal of the Sub-Committee in 2019 to address gaps in correctional results between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders illustrates CSC’s continued emphasis on comprehensively transforming Indigenous corrections.
This year, the ICAF includes new indicators from the National Indigenous Plan (NIP). Overall, the NIP has been successful in improving release and supervision results for Indigenous people in custody. This shows innovative strategies are imperative as we work towards reducing the gaps in results between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in custody. A crucial aspect of these strategies is strengthening nation-to-nation relationships by involving Indigenous communities and governing bodies in Indigenous corrections and ensuring that Indigenous people serving a federal sentence have access to culturally-appropriate services while in custody and while being supervised in the community.
As we begin the next chapter, IID will continue to strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities and stakeholders by exploring opportunities to increase the use of section 81 Healing Lodges, enhancing the section 84 release planning process and exploring alternative funding options for Indigenous service providers.
This past year has brought unique challenges and extraordinary experiences. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of CSC’s operations were modified or temporarily suspended. Some Indigenous people in custody may not have received the same access to Elder services, programs, or other supports. The next iteration of the ICAF will endeavour to capture the significant impacts the COVID-19 pandemic and the related measures have had on correctional interventions and services for Indigenous people serving a federal sentence. The ongoing and, sometimes competing, considerations of public health and safety, access to Indigenous programming and Elders and more, have made this year particularly challenging for Indigenous Initiatives.
This has also been an opportunity, however, to review and optimize internal processes and continue to work towards optimizing Indigenous corrections. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated, often in painful ways, the chronic inequities that remain. CSC plays a significant role in understanding and unraveling the ways systemic racism weaves into Canadian corrections, particularly for Indigenous and Black people. The time for action is immediate and essential. Changes in policy, procedure, and culture are crucial to hold CSC and staff accountable for the safety and security of people in custody.
This past year CSC has continued to prioritize Indigenous Corrections, and initiatives that support Indigenous people in custody. As positive trends in correctional results for Indigenous offenders are on the rise, CSC is hopeful the work undertaken to reintegrate federally sentenced Indigenous people will continue to contribute to healthier and safer communities for all.
Commissioner’s Directives and Guidelines
- Commissioner’s Directive 702: Indigenous Offenders
- Guidelines 702-1: Establishment and Operation of Pathways Initiatives
Indigenous Learning Series—Canada School of Public Service
Under the themes of Recognition, Respect, Relationships and Reconciliation, the Indigenous Learning Series provides access to resources, courses, workshops and events on the history, heritage, cultures, rights and perspectives of Canada's Indigenous Peoples, as well as on their varied and long-standing relationships with the Crown.
The Sitting by the Fire podcast series offers topics that will expand your knowledge of First Nations, the Inuit and Métis.
The Reconciliation: A Starting Point learning app serves as a reference tool to learn about First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, including key historical events and examples of reconciliation initiatives.
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