The Aboriginal Justice Strategy (AJS) is part of the federal response to the recommendations of the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, and to other inquiries across the country that identified a deep alienation from the justice system, and disproportionate rates of crime, victimization and incarceration, among Aboriginal peoples.

The AJS was established in 1996 with a five-year mandate to:

  • help Aboriginal people assume greater responsibility for the administration of justice in their communities;
  • promote the inclusion of Aboriginal values within the Canadian justice system; and
  • contribute to a reduction in rates of crime, victimization and incarceration among Aboriginal people.

The AJS is managed by the Department of Justice Canada’s (DOJ) Aboriginal Justice Directorate (AJD). In collaboration with provincial and territorial counterparts, the AJD pursues the goals of the AJS through policy development and support, community-based justice program funding, training and development funding, self-government negotiations and capacity-building support, and outreach and partnership (through the Aboriginal Justice Learning Network: AJLN).

After a promising beginning, the AJS was renewed in August 2001 for a second five-year term (2002-03 to 2006-07). This report highlights key activities undertaken in the first three fiscal years of the AJS’s second mandate to meet its objectives.

The DOJ is committed to being transparent and responsive to the needs of Canadians. It is hoped that this document helps explain the role, purpose and activities of the AJS as it relates to Aboriginal peoples’ involvement in Canada’s justice system.

Aboriginal Justice Directorate
Department of Justice Canada
100 Metcalfe Street, 7th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8

Fax: (613) 957-4697
Telephone: (613) 941-9298
E-mail: ajs-sja@justice.gc.ca
Web site: The Aboriginal Justice Strategy

1. Background: Aboriginal Justice Strategy

Origin and Rationale

The relationship between Canada’s Aboriginal people and the Canadian justice system has been an enduring and comprehensively documented problem, the complex product of disadvantaged socio-economic conditions, culturally insensitive approaches to justice, and systemic racism.[1] Over the years, numerous public inquiries, task forces and commissions have concluded that Canada’s justice system has failed Aboriginal people at every stage.[2] Aboriginal people have expressed a deep alienation from a system of justice that appears to them foreign and inaccessible. The results are reflected in a growing body of statistics indicating that Aboriginal people experience disproportionately high rates of arrest, conviction and incarceration.[3] The human and economic costs to aboriginal communities and to Canada are immeasurable.

To address the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the Canadian justice system, the federal government has responded with a continuum of policies, programs and initiatives. Examples include the Aboriginal Justice Strategy (AJS), the First Nations Policing Policy, the Youth Justice Renewal Fund[4] and the Aboriginal Community Corrections Initiative. Although each program operates separately, with a distinct mandate and authorities, they all have a common purpose: to contribute to improving the circumstances of Aboriginal people within Canadian society.

In its place on the continuum, the AJS focuses on increasing opportunities for, and building the capacity of, Aboriginal communities to participate meaningfully in the administration of justice. It is expected that increased involvement and strengthened capacity will contribute to the development of more appropriate responses to justice issues faced by Aboriginal people and, over time, will help reduce the percentage of Aboriginal people coming in contact with the justice system. Moreover, as more Aboriginal people engage in the administration of justice, a better understanding of Aboriginal values, needs and aspirations will evolve, contributing to the conditions necessary for sustainable change within the mainstream justice system.

Original Mandate: 1996-2000

In April 1996, the Minister of Justice announced the AJS as part of the federal government’s response to the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples,[5] and to other Aboriginal justice inquiries across the country. The AJS was to build partnerships within the Canadian justice system to support the development of sustainable justice policies and programs that better met the needs of Aboriginal people and that addressed their over-representation in the justice system. The Strategy was developed in cooperation with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), the Privy Council Office, and the former Office of the Solicitor General (now Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada) including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The AJS is managed by the Aboriginal Justice Directorate (AJD) within the Department of Justice (DOJ).


The objectives of the AJS are:

  • to assist Aboriginal people to assume greater responsibility for the administration of justice in their communities;

  • to reflect and include Aboriginal values within the Canadian justice system; and

  • over the long term, along with other justice programs, to contribute to a decrease in rates of victimization, crime and incarceration among Aboriginal people in communities operating AJS programs.

Design and Delivery

During the first five-year term, the AJD pursued the goals of the AJS through three component activities:

  • policy development and support;
  • community-based justice program funding; and
  • the Aboriginal Justice Learning Network (AJLN).

Policy Development and Support promotes and supports Aboriginal community justice as a key policy issue in Canada through strategic partnerships at the departmental, interdepartmental and intergovernmental levels; provides multi-disciplinary advice on Aboriginal justice issues to the DOJ and to other federal departments; and provides advice and input to self-government negotiators on the “administration of justice” component of self-government negotiations and agreements.

Community-based Justice Program Funding supports the development and delivery by Aboriginal communities of culturally relevant community-based justice programs through cost-sharing agreements with provincial and territorial governments. Programs that offer diversion/alternative measures, community sentencing, mediation in non-criminal disputes, and other alternative justice initiatives aimed at building closer relationships between community justice and the mainstream system are eligible for funding. Community-based justice programs give Aboriginal people a significant role in resolving civil and criminal matters in their own communities.

The Aboriginal Justice Learning Network (AJLN) provides a forum for Aboriginal communities to exchange best practices and creative solutions to Aboriginal justice issues, and supports training and information-sharing on alternative justice processes consistent with Aboriginal values and traditions. The AJLN also supports the participation of Aboriginal women as full partners in the development and implementation of the community-based programs.

Achievements and Shortfalls

During its initial mandate, the AJD worked to develop relationships with key community and provincial/territorial stakeholders, establishing strong information and cost-sharing partnerships in a relatively short period of time. By the end of its first mandate, the AJS:

  • was funding more than 60 community-based justice programs serving in excess of 260 aboriginal communities across Canada;
  • had produced self-evaluation material for the community-based programs, and had supported related training of provincial/territorial partners, and community justice workers; and
  • had funded information-sharing conferences, workshops and seminars, had developed videos and educational material, and had launched a web site.

In addition, the AJD had participated at 27 self-government negotiation tables, offering advice on the “administration of justice” component of self-government agreements.

Despite its early accomplishments, much work remained to enhance and sustain the contributions of the AJS to Aboriginal justice initiatives:

  • late receipt of funding was a problem for community-based justice programs across the country;
  • there were common gaps and problems in reporting of information by funded programs, particularly with respect to performance reporting and evaluation;
  • the AJLN, which had experienced high staff turn-over and budget reductions and uncertainties, had not been as successful in achieving its objectives as had been anticipated.


In 2000, the DOJ formally evaluated the AJS in contemplation of seeking its renewal. The evaluation recommended the following actions within a renewed mandate:

  • develop a process to ensure more effective intra- and interdepartmental coordination of Aboriginal justice issues within the federal government;

  • adopt a comprehensive national approach to evaluation for community-based justice programs to facilitate performance reporting;

  • assign one federal Regional Coordinator for community-based justice programs, together with sufficient administrative support, to each of the Territories and Western provinces, to Ontario, to Quebec, and to the Atlantic Region;

  • implement an administrative process to ensure that program funds get to communities in a timely manner;

  • resource the AJLN at levels originally established so it can better carry out its mandate, addressing in particular the critical need for community justice training and enhanced information collection and distribution.

Renewed & Expanded Mandate: 2002-2007

In August 2001, the federal government renewed the AJS for five fiscal years (2002-03 to 2006-07) so that it could continue its work to address the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the Canadian justice system.[6] Under the new mandate, existing activities (policy development and support, community-based justice program funding, and the AJLN) were to continue, and two new components were to be taken on: a Training and Development (T&D) Fund, and a Self-Government Capacity Building Fund.

Training and Development

The 2000 AJS evaluation identified training and development of community members who deliver, or who aspire to deliver, community-based justice programs as critical to the success and sustainability of the programs. Training was identified as important not only during program development and implementation phases but also later as programs matured and as staff turned over. As a result, when the AJS was renewed for a second term, its mandate included a new Training and Development Fund, under which up to 100% of eligible expenses may be covered by grants and contributions.

With the goals of capacity building and encouraging new programs, the T&D Fund is intended to support training of Aboriginal communities that do not have AJS-funded community-based justice programs. It is also available to supplement the evolving training and development needs of existing AJS-funded programs where cost-shared funds are not sufficient to cover requirements.

Self-Government Capacity Building

Community-based justice programs funded by the AJS do not directly address the challenges that Aboriginal communities in self-government negotiations will face in the development, administration and enforcement of their own laws. To help address those challenges, the Self-Government Capacity Building Fund was added to the AJS mandate when it was renewed in 2001.

The Self-Government Capacity Building Fund is administered by the AJD in consultation with INAC. With up to 100% of eligible expenses covered by contributions, the fund supports the development of pilot projects and resource material designed to build self-government capacity within Aboriginal communities.

In sum, the 2000 evaluation concluded that, although there was still much work to be done, the AJS had made an impressive start on a promising approach to the problem of Aboriginal over-representation in and alienation from the Canadian justice system. In renewal and expansion of the Strategy for a second five-year term there was recognition that substantially reducing the percentage of Aboriginal people entering the justice system is a goal requiring sustained effort and long-term commitment.

2. AJS Resources and Activities: April 2002 –
March 2005



The AJD has an organizational structure that reflects the wide variety of activities in which it engages. Led by a Director General, the AJD is comprised of policy advisors, program analysts, communications/liaison officers, legal counsel, Regional Coordinators and support staff. Most staff members are centralized at DOJ offices in Ottawa; some Regional Coordinators and their support staff are in other locations throughout the country, closer to the Aboriginal communities and community-based justice programs they support.

The AJD has service agreements with the Evaluation Division of DOJ to conduct formal evaluations of the AJS; and it shares salary and operating expenses with Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC) to deliver both the AJS and the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Alberta.


Over its second five-year mandate (2002-03 to 2006-07), the AJD was to receive a total of $57.26 million to pursue the goals of the AJS, representing a modest increase in funding over previous years. The increase was intended to support the expanded mandate of the AJS; it was also to be devoted, in part, to developing community-based justice programs in regions without them, and to encouraging mediation programs in family and civil matters, an under-used community justice program model.

Government-wide budget re-allocations in 2003-04, and Departmental adjustments in 2004-05, reduced the AJD budget by $1 M. and $400,000 respectively, requiring a restructuring of the scope and delivery of some AJS activities.[7] The most significant impacts were on the new Training and Development Fund, and on the AJLN. The nature of those impacts is identified in the summary of activities that follows.

Table 1-1: AJD Budget by Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Budget Requested Budget Approved Budget After Reductions
2002-03 18,840,000.00 10,894,757.00 10,894,757.00
2003-04 23,340,000.00 10,894,757.00 9,882,719.00
2004-05 27,840,000.00 10,894,757.00 10,481,006.00

Source: AJD Files


Policy Development and Support

The Policy Development and Support component of the AJS:

  • monitors, analyzes and provides advice on policies, programs and practices that have or may have implications for Aboriginal justice;
  • evaluates, on an on-going basis, the effectiveness of the AJS in delivering its component programs, and in achieving its objectives;
  • contributes to the development of a growing body of knowledge about best practices in, policies and programs directed at, and resources available to Aboriginal justice initiatives.

The policy activities of the AJD are intended to foster a more integrated approach to addressing justice issues faced by Aboriginal people. Efforts are directed at ensuring that, in design and delivery, government initiatives – primarily federal but also provincial and territorial – support and sustain Aboriginal justice as a policy priority in Canadian society, and are coherent, complementary and, as much as possible, collaborative.

Coordination and Collaboration

The success of the Policy Development and Support component of the AJS depends on the strength of its internal and external partnerships. The work of the AJD must be known and credible to other policy-makers so that its advice will be sought where appropriate and influential when given. Thus, the development of strategic partnerships at departmental, interdepartmental and intergovernmental levels is a key activity.

The 2000 AJS evaluation identified a need for improved coordination of Aboriginal justice policy and program delivery among federal departments, and between the federal government and the provincial and territorial governments. It also called for more federal presence in and better linkages with local Aboriginal communities. Through strategic partnerships, and participation on working groups and committees, the AJD has worked during the last three fiscal years to improve coordination and collaboration, and to create sustainable linkages—among government policies and programs that impact on aboriginal justice, and with communities.

Strategic Partnerships

The AJD has explored and implemented innovative approaches to delivering the AJS in some of its regions. The AJD negotiated and entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with PSEPC to share salary and operating dollars to deliver both the AJS and the NCPS in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Alberta. It also structured and entered into an MOU with the British Columbia Regional Office to regionalize and cost-share some AJD functions.

Working Groups and Committees

The AJD is committed to improving the coordination of Aboriginal justice issues among federal departments, and between the federal government and its provincial and territorial counterparts. To those ends, the AJD has become an active member of a number of working groups and committees. By bringing key jurisdictional stakeholders together on a regular basis, meetings of committees and working groups have offered an excellent opportunity for the AJD to share information and expertise, identify and discuss emerging trends, issues and priorities, discover gaps and overlap in policy and program delivery, promote collaboration and coordination, and strengthen inter-jurisdictional relations and linkages.

The AJD participates as a member of departmental committees and working groups including the:

  • Working Group on Youth Justice
  • Working Group on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  • Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Peoples

The AJD is represented on interdepartmental committees, including the:

  • Aboriginal Community Stability and Wellness Working Group
  • Urban Aboriginal Strategy Committee
  • TBS Horizontal Review Committee

In addition to federal government working groups and committees, the AJD participates in a number of Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) Working Groups:

  • FPT Working Group on Aboriginal Justice Issues: Youth Justice Sub-committee; Family and Interpersonal Violence Sub-committee
  • FPT Working Group on Restorative Justice
  • FPT Working Group on Victims of Crime: Aboriginal Sub-committee

The AJD operates by leading and collaborating with an FPT Working Group on the AJS. That Working Group was the vehicle for one of the most important collaborative efforts between federal, provincial and territorial governments during the reporting period. The question to be decided was how to distribute AJS funds to community-based justice programs during the Strategy’s second mandate.

In 2002, a sub-committee of the FPT Working Group on the AJS was established and tasked to prepare, for the consideration of the Working Group, an Options Paper related to the distribution of AJS community-based justice program funding. AJD represented the federal government on the sub-committee; the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the Yukon were also represented. The collaboratively produced Options Paper proposed funding distribution alternatives, and identified the most appropriate variables to be included in any new distribution formula.

With the Options Paper a starting point, funding-related deliberations culminated in a facilitated meeting of the FPT Working Group in April of 2003 at which agreement in principle was reached on how to allocate AJS program funds for the remainder of the mandate. All jurisdictions expressed the need for stability and predictability in funding to enable planning over the next 3 to 5 years. After a full discussion, it was agreed that current base funding levels would be maintained to 2007 and that new funds would be allocated:

  • to address the special circumstances of the North;
  • to ensure that the AJS is a national program by establishing programs in the Atlantic provinces; and
  • to begin addressing inequities based on the distribution of the Aboriginal population.

The considerable effort and thoughtful input of FPT members produced consensus around many difficult funding issues, and ensured that the meeting’s outcome would facilitate funding decisions for the duration of the AJS’s second mandate.

In a recent survey conducted as part of an upcoming mid-term evaluation of the AJS, 63% of federal government respondents expressed the opinion that the AJS had had “a lot” or “some” positive impact on cooperation and collaboration on aboriginal justice issues within DOJ; and 80% of provincial and territorial officials expressed similar sentiments with respect to their relations with the AJD. Community justice coordinators acknowledged in their responses the cooperative relationships that have developed between federal and provincial/territorial officials, especially in relation to community-based justice program agreements.[8]

Review and Advice

In fulfilling its responsibility to foster an integrated and sustainable approach to Aboriginal justice issues, the Policy Development and Support component of the AJS monitors, reviews and provides advice on policies and programs that have or may have implications for Aboriginal justice. In 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05, the AJD provided policy advice, and leadership, on a variety of proposals and initiatives, including those summarized below.

Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Working Group on Aboriginal Justice Issues

Despite concerns about the number of FPT committees and working groups focused on justice issues, jurisdictions agreed that the need for consistent and sustained attention to Aboriginal justice issues was not being met within existing FPT structures. In June of 2004, Deputy Ministers decided that the time was right to create a new FPT working group focused on Aboriginal justice issues.

The creation of a new FPT Working Group on Aboriginal Justice Issues consumed a considerable amount of the AJD’s policy resources in 2003-04 and 2004-05. Up and running, it will continue to be a major component of the policy workload for the AJD in 2005-06.

With a fixed mandate to January 2006, reviewable by the Deputy Ministers thereafter, the working group has been tasked to:

  • promote coordinated work on a variety of inter-twined issues;
  • undertake specific projects at the direction of Deputy Ministers responsible for justice; and
  • promote the discussion of Aboriginal justice issues across other FPT working groups and committees dealing with justice issues.

The FPT Working Group is to prepare a discussion paper identifying strategic options for making meaningful progress in five areas of Aboriginal justice: community justice, youth issues, policing, interpersonal and family violence, and corrections. Each jurisdiction will produce an issues paper on every theme. Those papers will be reviewed by the Working Group and will be the foundation for a “Strategic Directions” document to be presented to Deputy Ministers in 2006.

The AJD participated on the advisory committee charged with reviewing the proposal to create a new working group. In that preparatory work, and later when the group was confirmed to proceed, the AJD worked to ensure that the mandate and work plan were in accord with federal priorities related to Aboriginal issues, including the Minister’s priority of reducing rates of victimization and incarceration among Aboriginal people. The AJD will continue to be very involved in the Working Group in 2005-06, coordinating production of the federal issues papers, co-chairing meetings and providing other input and advice.

Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable

One of the outcomes of Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable[9] was a government commitment to conduct a series of sector-specific policy roundtables in partnership with Aboriginal leaders and in cooperation with provincial and territorial governments. The Sectoral Tables are: Health, Life Long Learning, Housing, Economic Opportunities, Negotiations, and Accountability for Results. The Roundtable process considers Justice to be a component of each of the Sectoral Tables.

The AJD kept up-to-date with respect to the Roundtable process, and provided input both in support of the Minister’s position that Justice should be its own Sectoral Table, and to ensure that Aboriginal justice issues were linked into and part of the Roundtable process.

Report of the Saskatchewan Commission on First Nations and Métis Peoples and Justice Reform

The Commission on First Nations and Métis Peoples and Justice Reform was established by the Saskatchewan government in 2001. It was charged with proposing practical reforms to the justice system that would reduce crime and victimization among First Nations and Métis people, and that would lead to safer communities and a reduction in the number of Aboriginal people coming in contact with the criminal justice system. The Commission was to consider all components of the justice system including police, courts, prosecution, legal aid, corrections, community justice, youth justice and victim services. The Commission’s final report, containing 122 recommendations, was released in June of 2004.[10]

The DOJ was tasked to coordinate the federal review of the Commission’s report and to make recommendations regarding a Government response. An active contributor to those efforts, the AJD:

  • initiated and led the work of both the national steering committee and the provincial working group that, together, conducted the review and developed an action-oriented, community-focused response;
  • chaired (and continues to chair) an interdepartmental national working group, brought together to share information and to identify opportunities to work collaboratively on initiatives that address the Commission’s recommendations;
  • represented the federal government at a number of report-related meetings with provincial Deputy Ministers, First Nations representatives and Métis organizations;
  • developed an action plan relating to the justice-specific recommendations of the report;
  • kept the Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council and others apprised of progress via briefing notes and other material; and
  • provided AJS funds to support Aboriginal participation on the Implementation Steering Committee.

Action on the recommendations, which implicate a number of federal departments and all levels of government, will continue into the foreseeable future. The AJD will continue to be an active participant in that process.

Other Policy-Related Initiatives

By way of watching briefs, review, analysis, comment, co-ordination or representation, the Policy Development and Support component of the AJS has also contributed its expertise to these significant initiatives during the reporting period:

  • Health Canada’s Major Policy Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder;
  • Policy Centre for Victim Issues’ Intra-Departmental Consultation on Issues, Needs and Services for Victims of Crime in the Northern Territories;
  • Policy Centre for Victim Issues’ Literature Review on Restorative Justice & Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault;
  • “Sisters in Spirit”, a request and proposal from the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) for $5 M. in federal funding over five years to support the NWAC’s work in addressing the high rates of racialized and sexualized violence against Aboriginal women in Canada;
  • Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, Urban Aboriginal Youth: An Action Plan for Change (2003); and
  • Government of Canada’s Urban Aboriginal Strategy.
Research and Evaluation

It is part of the work of the Policy Development and Support component of the AJS to evaluate the effectiveness of the Strategy in delivering on its mandate, and to provide information and advice to AJD management intended to enhance the Directorate’s ability to achieve AJS goals. Policy analysts and advisors fulfill those responsibilities by identifying information needs, conducting or commissioning research projects, encouraging and facilitating evaluations of the AJS (or its components) by stakeholders, analyzing results, and making recommendations. More generally, the policy function is expected to contribute to a growing body of knowledge about best practices in, policies and programs directed at, and resources available to Aboriginal justice initiatives.

During the three-year period that is the focus of this report, policy-related research and evaluation activities of the AJD included:

  • the creation of a Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF), a document that sets out the objectives of the AJS, the expected outcomes, and a framework for monitoring, reviewing and reporting on progress and activities during the 2002-2007 mandate;
  • the production of an annotated bibliography on recent Canadian and international restorative justice literature, identifying developments in the field, best practices and evaluations;
  • substantial completion of a literature review directed at determining whether the AJS continues to be relevant, and whether there are more cost-effective or efficient program design and delivery approaches (the final literature review, to be delivered in 2005-06, will inform an upcoming summative evaluation of the AJS);
  • coordination of and participation in the formal mid-term evaluation of the AJS conducted by DOJ’s Evaluation Division (the final report will be delivered in 2005-06; more details are provided in the Evaluation section of this report);
  • a review of the AJS in British Columbia based on the perceptions and experiences of community-based justice program providers in that province, intended to identify potential improvements to AJS management and delivery;
  • an assessment of the AJS-funded Community Justice Program in Nunavut to determine whether it was achieving its mandate and objectives, whether its mandate and structure suited current and future needs, and whether it offered effective alternatives to the formal justice system; and
  • an evaluation of the AJLN, including restructuring recommendations intended to improve the ability of the AJD to deliver the AJLN mandate.
Conferences and Workshops

The AJD is committed to supporting the generation and dissemination of information through a wide variety of vehicles. Like research and evaluation activities, conferences and workshops contribute in important ways to the creation and distribution of knowledge about Aboriginal justice initiatives. The AJD attends and participates at conferences and workshops to promote the AJS and to share and receive information about Aboriginal justice initiatives. It also provides funding to conferences and workshops to support the exchange of ideas and the generation of new knowledge and skills. Some of the conferences and workshops attended by the AJD during 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05 are listed in Appendix 2. Conferences and workshops funded by the AJS are discussed under the AJLN section of this report.

Participation on conference planning committees has enhanced the profile of the AJS, and has provided the opportunity to influence conference agendas. The AJD is a member of the planning committees for the 2005 International Conference on Special Needs Offenders (September 2005), and for the Aboriginal Policy Research Conference (March 2006). The International Conference will offer a number of workshops on aboriginal offenders and their special needs in the criminal justice system. The Policy Research Conference will bring together influential Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers, policy-makers, leaders and academics from around the world to share recent research, and to discuss ideas in pursuit of better research, evidence-based policy and policy outcome assessment.

Community-based Justice Programs

Community-based justice program funding supports Aboriginal communities in developing and operating culturally relevant programs that give communities significant responsibility for working with offenders, and for resolving civil and criminal disputes, at the local level. Successful programs increase the community’s understanding of and participation in the justice system, build community capacity to address justice issues in culturally appropriate ways, and strengthen relations with mainstream justice stakeholders by creating mutual trust.

Programs that are eligible for AJS funding capture a wide range of activities at the community level:

  • diversion/alternative measures programs divert offenders from the formal court system into alternative community processes. Diversion is usually an informal process; alternative measures programs are typically authorized by and established under provisions of the Criminal Code[11] or Youth Criminal Justice Act.[12] Properly designed, diversion/alternative measures programs are less intrusive, more culturally appropriate, and more expeditious than a formal court-based response;
  • community sentencing programs provide for the participation of the community in the preparation and provision of advice to sentencing judges about the appropriate sanction to impose on a person found guilty of an offence, and about the community resources that could be made available to the offender as part of a restorative response. Vehicles through which the advice is developed and delivered include Elders’ advisory panels and circle sentencing initiatives (with or without the participation of the judge);
  • mediation provides for the participation in non-criminal disputes (such as family or civil matters) of a neutral third party who assists the parties in conflict to come to a resolution. The role of the mediator is to facilitate discussion and resolution between the parties; he or she has no decision-making authority or power to impose an outcome;[13]
  • other justice activities aimed at strengthening relations between community justice workers/projects and the mainstream system are also eligible for AJS funding.[14]

Once a community-based justice program proposal has been approved, the community program provider works with its provincial/territorial ministry and with the AJD to develop and operate the program in close consultation with mainstream justice providers including crown prosecutors, police and courts. The program provider has responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the program. The federal and provincial/territorial governments provide funds and expert advice, and facilitate linkages with mainstream justice and social service providers.

The AJD identified the following objectives as the 2002-2007 priorities of the Community-based Justice Program component of the AJS:

  • increase the number of community programs operating and communities served;
  • encourage and invest in program development in every province and territory;
  • encourage the development and delivery of mediation programs for family and civil matters;
  • expand services to Métis, to urban and to off-reserve Aboriginal populations;
  • support the participation of women and victims’ groups in program design and delivery.

As Table 2-1 indicates, the AJD has been successful year over year in increasing the number of programs operating and communities served. The number of community-based justice program agreements entered into by the AJD increased by 13% over the three fiscal years; the number of programs delivered under those agreements increased by 24%; and the number of communities served increased by 9%. AJS investment in programs increased by 8.3% over the three fiscal years.

Table 2-1: Overview of AJS-Funded Community-based Justice Programs
by Fiscal Year
2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
Number of AJS Agreements 79 83 89
Number of Programs Operated 88 105 109
Number of Communities Served 415 457 453
Total AJS Program Funding Committed $6,112,092 $6,506,336 $6,622,639

Source: AJD Files

By the end of 2003-04, the AJS had established a national presence, funding community-based justice programs in every province and territory in Canada. That national presence continued in 2004-05. Table 2-2 identifies the number of programs by jurisdiction by fiscal year. Table 2-3 reports AJS funding by jurisdiction by fiscal year.

Table 2-2: Number of Programs by Jurisdiction
by Fiscal Year
Jurisdiction 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
Saskatchewan 24 24 24
British Columbia 18 20 19
Nunavut 1 13 14
Quebec 7 9 12
Ontario 10 10 10
Yukon 8 8 9
Manitoba 7 7 6
Alberta 5 5 5
Northwest Territories 5 5 5
New Brunswick 1 1 2
Nova Scotia 1 1 1
P.E.I. 1 1 1
Newfoundland 0 1 1
Total Programs 88 105 109

Source: AJD Files

Table 2-3: Total Committed AJS Funding of Community-based Justice Programs by Jurisdiction by Fiscal Year
Jurisdiction 2002-03 ($) 2003-04 ($) 2004-05 ($) Cumulative COMMITTED Funding
Saskatchewan 1,611,545 1,616,418 1,630,545 4,858,508
British Columbia 980,668 1,070,600 1,068,548 3,119,816
Manitoba 756,713 896,962 832,136 2,485,811
Ontario 709,590 710,932 740,813 2,161,335
Alberta 632,717 563,672 674,900 1,871,289
Quebec 559,679 489,767 465,557 1,515,003
Yukon 404,440 403,792 416,940 1,225,172
Nunavut 25,000 255,400 262,400 542,800
NWT 145,000 145,000 145,000 435,000
Nova Scotia 142,300 142,300 142,300 426,900
New Brunswick 94,440 96,500 118,500 309,440
Newfoundland 0 75,000 75,000 150,000
P.E.I. 50,000 39,993 50,000 139,993
Total Funding 6,112,092 6,506,336 6,622,639 19,241,067

Source: AJD Files

Despite a notable increase in the total number of programs delivered, the number of programs for off-reserve Aboriginal populations – rural and urban – has remained stable. There are rural programs in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and P.E.I.; urban programs are offered in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Table 2-4 identifies that the growth in number of programs has occurred in the North most significantly (87%), and on-reserve (20%).

Table 2-4: Number of Programs by Location Type by Fiscal Year
Program Location 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
North (Yukon,* NWT, Nunavut) 15 26 28
On-Reserve 45 52 54
Off-Reserve - Rural 3 3 3
Off-Reserve - Urban 17 15 15
Mix of On-Reserve & Off (Rural & Urban) 8 9 9
Total Programs 88 105 109

Source: AJD Files

* In each fiscal year, two Yukon programs are identified as serving an urban population.

A program may serve one community or more. Table 2-5 reports the number of communities served by AJS-funded programs. The number of communities in the North that are served by AJS-funded programs has almost doubled over the three fiscal years, from 15 to 29. The number of programs exclusively serving on-reserve communities has increased by 15%, from 172 to 197. Overall, the number of programs serving on- and off-reserve communities (urban, rural and both) has remained stable.

Table 2-5: Number of Communities Served by Location Type
by Fiscal Year
Program Location Number of Communities Served
2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
North (Yukon*, NWT, Nunavut) 15 27 29
On-Reserve 172 203 197
Off-Reserve - Rural 11 11 11
Off-Reserve - Urban 37 30 30
Mix of On-Reserve & Off (Rural & Urban) 180 186 186
Total Number of Communities Served 415 457 453

Source: AJD Files

The increase in the number of communities served is directly related to the increase in the number of programs offered. The North, for example, has experienced the largest increase in number of programs operating and, correspondingly, in the number of communities served. The average number of communities served per program has remained stable over the years.

Table 2-6: Average Number of Communities Served per Program by Location Type by Fiscal Year
Program Location Average Number of Communities Served per Program
2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
North (Yukon*, NWT, Nunavut) 1.0 1.04 1.08
On-Reserve 3.8 3.9 3.6
Off-Reserve - Rural 3.7 3.7 3.7
Off-Reserve - Urban 2.2 2.0 2.0
Mix of On-Reserve & Off (Rural & Urban) 22.5 21.7 21.7

Source: AJD Files

Diversion/alternative measures has consistently been the program model most often delivered, representing from 78% to 80% of total programs offered in a given fiscal year. Ten percent of funded programs deliver both diversion and community sentencing. Non-criminal mediation continues to be an under-used program model.

Table 2-7: Number of Programs by Program Model by Fiscal Year
Program Model 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
Diversion/Alternative Measures 65 81 83
Community Sentencing 3 3 4
Non-Criminal Mediation 3 3 4
Other Activities * 5 4 5
Mix of Models 9 11 10
Total Programs ** 85 102 106

Source: AJD Files

With respect to the goals of expanding services to Métis, and encouraging the participation of women and victims in program delivery and design, existing reporting mechanisms do not capture that kind of information. However, all urban programs are status-blind, and offer services to Métis individuals. In relation to most programs, the involvement of the victim is both encouraged and very important. Many of the programs are developed and delivered by women.


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