Call for Action: Indigenous Decarceration and Self-Determination

WHEREAS the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada determined that Canada’s residential school system was an act of genocide against Indigenous peoples;

WHEREAS Indigenous peoples are over-represented in prison, in higher prison security levels, in uses of force by correctional officers, in suicide attempts, in self-harm, in homicides and in solitary confinement, and are less likely to receive conditional release;

WHEREAS the mass incarceration of Indigenous peoples in Canadian prisons is increasing at an alarming rate, and represents a continuation of genocide against them;

WHEREAS Indigenous communities are systemically denied funding to provide healing services to their members to prevent involvement in the criminal system and to offer alternatives to imprisonment;

WHEREAS the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) confirms Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and to maintain distinct institutions, and Canada’s UNDRIP Act requires the federal government to ensure that its laws are consistent with UNDRIP;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Canadian Bar Association urge federal, territorial and provincial governments to:

  1. negotiate an action plan with Indigenous groups within two years to provide:
    1. well-resourced preventative community-based services; and
    2. alternatives to incarceration of Indigenous peoples, 
    with a goal of significantly reducing incarceration rates;
  2. implement the action plan immediately, and monitor its progress annually, and amend it as necessary; and
  3. shift funding from the Correctional Service of Canada and from provincial and territorial correctional services to Indigenous communities to implement the action plan.

Moved by Committee on Imprisonment and Release and Aboriginal Law Section.

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