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Government of Canada takes steps to address overrepresentation of Indigenous, Black, and racialized people in the criminal justice system

March 23, 2023 | Vision Newspaper |

The Government of Canada is strongly committed to addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous, Black, and racialized people in Canada’s criminal justice system. The government has advanced an array of innovative and progressive initiatives that make our system fairer and our communities safer. A central element of this work involves advancing alternatives to custody, helping former offenders move on with their lives, and supporting their safe reintegration into our communities.

The Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, today announced the launch of two initiatives to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous, Black, and racialized people in Canada’s criminal justice system.

The Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative (ICCI) supports grassroots efforts that expand alternatives to custody and support reintegration among Indigenous offenders. A total of $5.21 million will be available in 2023/2024 and $12M ongoing thereafter to support organizations that rehabilitate or reintegrate Indigenous offenders through project development, training, communications, and direct interventions. The Call for Applications is open now until June 12, 2023.

Additionally, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) from Black and racialized community groups, experts or organizations to address overrepresentation by assisting with safe and successful reintegration.

The first step in this process is building a comprehensive national inventory of organizations who, based on their specific strengths, could work with CSC or Public Safety Canada. Interested parties are invited to submit an EOI to CSC no later than May 15, 2023.

These efforts build on the Government of Canada’s ongoing efforts to address overrepresentation of Indigenous, Black, and racialized people in the criminal justice system. This work involves a wide range of steps, from passing legislation that addresses harmful mandatory minimum sentences to significantly cutting the fee for a record suspension (pardon.) These initiatives also support the Federal Framework to Reduce Recidivism by providing access to more community networks and culturally appropriate support, both during and after incarceration.


“Systemic racism is a harsh reality across Canada’s criminal justice system. The overrepresentation of Indigenous, Black, and racialized people is a symptom of this broader illness. That’s why our government is redoubling efforts to address it, advancing progressive initiatives that address systemic barriers, give people a second shot and break the cycle of reoffending.”

– The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety

“CSC has been working with community partners for many years. With this EOI, we are providing an opportunity for new groups and experts to come forward, especially in light of our increased efforts to better support Black, ethnocultural, and racialized offenders. As we work to positively change lives and keep Canadians safe, it is a priority for us to increase access to culturally-sensitive, diverse and inclusive interventions, programs and services.”

– Anne Kelly, Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

“Reducing recidivism is a key component in ensuring public safety, and addressing and removing systemic barriers for Indigenous, Black and racialized people is an important step in significantly lowering the rate of reoffending.  The over representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system is a serious and complex issue rooted in systemic racism.  Focusing on reintegration through culturally relevant services can help reverse that trend, particularly among women and the 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities.”

– Pam Damoff, Member of Parliament, Oakville North-Burlington

Quick facts

  • The Federal Framework to Reduce Recidivism, launched in June 2022, is the Government of Canada’s first step in putting together a plan that identifies crucial factors that impact why people reoffend and how to support safe and successful reintegration into the community.
  • The Government of Canada committed $56 million in grants and contributions over five years, starting in 2022-23, and $15.2 million ongoing, to renew and expand the ICCI to increase the range of services offered and the volume of projects funded, with additional supports for women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
  • There are approximately 12,400 inmates in CSC custody – 32% are Indigenous; 9% are Black; 5% are Asian; 1% are Hispanic; 7% are multi-racial/ethnic and other.
  • The overrepresentation of Indigenous people, Black, and racialized Canadians in federal correctional institutions is a top concern for the Government of Canada. It requires a whole of society effort to work on this important criminal justice system issue.
  • Public Safety Canada and its portfolio organizations continue to support whole-of-government efforts to align legislation, programs, policies, and initiatives with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
  • Through the ICCI, Public Safety Canada is supporting Indigenous-led community corrections programming in keeping with UN Declaration principles concerning the protection and revitalization of spiritual traditions, dignity of culture, and improvement of socio-economic conditions.

SOURCE Government of Canada

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