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Chapter Eight

Aboriginal Employment and Participation in the Justice System

The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry placed a heavy emphasis on the need to employ more Aboriginal people in every part of the existing justice system. The AJI argued that:

because of their almost complete absence other than as accused, the system is now considered to be a foreign and uncaring one by Aboriginal people…We are satisfied that if there were Aboriginal people working in the legal system, there would be a greater understanding of the problems faced by Aboriginal accused, victims, witnesses and their families, and higher levels of assistance and advice. Aboriginal communities would benefit economically and socially from having people within their community who hold positions of importance within the justice system. (AJI, Volume I, page 663)

The AJI suggested that job descriptions for positions that required, or that will inevitably result in, high contact with Aboriginal people should place greater emphasis on the applicant's knowledge and skills in the area of Aboriginal skills and languages. It suggested that such positions should be designated as "Aboriginal Bilingual Positions" within government, much as the government now designates some positions as "Bilingual" for purposes of its French language policy.

The AJI indicated it was not impressed with the results achieved under voluntary affirmative action programs, noting that there were few consequences for managers who failed to achieve progress in hiring members of target groups under these programs. For this reason the AJI stated that the government needed to

formally adopt legally enforceable, target driven, equity employment programs. We include all levels of the system in that conclusion, from police officers and prison guards to members of the judiciary and bureaucracy. We believe that the progress of those programs should be reported annually to an appropriate entity with powers to enforce compliance. Such an entity should have access to specific and appropriate powers. (AJI, Volume I, page 664)

The AJI recommended the creation of an Employment Equity Commission (EEC) to serve as an enforcement agency. While it placed no limit on the authority of the EEC, it recommended that its initial efforts be directed towards increasing Aboriginal employment in the justice system.

The AJI also addressed the issues of targets. It concluded that the minimum target in the justice system ought to be the percentage of Aboriginal people in the Manitoba population, while the optimum target would be the percentage of Aboriginal people served by the justice system. Since the AJI estimated that Aboriginal people constituted 12 percent of the Manitoba population, it recommended a minimum of 12 percent and an optimum that would vary with the number of Aboriginal people being served by a specific branch of government.

The AJI made the following specific recommendations dealing with employment equity.

  • The Province of Manitoba legislate the establishment of an Employment Equity Commission with appropriate Aboriginal representation on its governing body.

  • The Employment Equity Commission have two arms: an investigative arm responsible for examining any matter covered by the legislation, and an adjudicative arm responsible for hearing any complaint made under the legislation. Those on the adjudicative side who sit as hearing panels to determine a complaint should include an Aboriginal person if the complaint involves an Aboriginal issue or complainant.

  • The mandate of the commission be:

    • To develop employment equity targets for employers within the legislative jurisdiction of the Province of Manitoba, including any department of the government of Manitoba and any municipality, town or city within the province.

    • To ensure that employers set policies and programs for the advancement and promotion of Aboriginal people.

    • To monitor compliance with established employment equity targets.

    • To require employers in receipt of government grants or contracts to establish an acceptable employment equity plan with appropriate time frames, within which Aboriginal people will be hired.

    • To hear and determine complaints against any person or employer who fails to comply with an established employment equity plan.

  • Hearing panels called upon to determine complaints be entitled to make orders requiring compliance with an employment equity plan acceptable to the commission, or make such other order as may appear appropriate to it, such as financial compensation either to an individual or to a group of individuals.

In addition, the AJI made the following recommendations that address the issue of Aboriginal employment in various branches of the justice system.


Manitoba Justice Department

  • The provincial Justice department establish minimum and optimum targets for the employment of Aboriginal people at all levels. The minimum target must be no less than the percentage of Aboriginal people in Manitoba; the optimum target is to be equal to the percentage of Aboriginal people served by the department and its agencies.

Legal Aid

  • Legal Aid Manitoba establish minimum and optimum targets for the employment of Aboriginal people at all levels. The minimum target must be no less than the percentage of Aboriginal people in Manitoba; the optimum target is to be equal to the percentage of Aboriginal people served by Legal Aid Manitoba.

Correctional Facilities

  • The number of Aboriginal people employed in correctional facilities and correctional programs be at least proportionate to the population of Aboriginal people in the province of Manitoba.

  • At least one-half of the Aboriginal staff of each institution be able to speak an Aboriginal language.


  • Cross-cultural education components of all police training courses be reviewed and strengthened, and this process actively involve members of the Aboriginal community, resource persons and recognized experts.

  • The RCMP employ Aboriginal police and civilian staff in their detachments in proportion to at least the Aboriginal population of the province and preferably in proportion to the Aboriginal population being served.

  • The Winnipeg Police Department prepare and table with the city council and the Minister of Justice, no later than December 31, 1991, an employment equity plan which has clear targets, target dates and remedies should targets not be achieved.

  • The City of Winnipeg Police Department set an initial target of 133 Aboriginal police officers. The first step in reaching that goal should be to designate the next recruiting class as entirely Aboriginal. Thereafter, 50% of each recruit class be dedicated to Aboriginal recruits until the target has been met.

  • The Winnipeg Police Department be required to report publicly the progress of its employment equity program to the Minister of Justice.

  • A portion of the funding provided by the Province to the City of Winnipeg for police salaries be conditional on the Winnipeg Police Department's using that funding only for the hiring of Aboriginal police officers.

  • The Brandon Police Department set an initial target of nine Aboriginal police officers and that the City of Brandon Police Department dedicate that number of positions for Aboriginal recruits in its next recruit class.

  • The City of Brandon Police Department, in co-operation with the Brandon Friendship Centre, develop a program to reach out to and inform Aboriginal people living in Brandon about policing issues.

Legal training

  • The University of Manitoba Faculty of Law establish a recruitment program whereby Aboriginal students (including those in high schools) throughout Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario are encouraged to attend law school.

  • The Faculty of Law and the Aboriginal Justice College establish a pre-law program for Aboriginal students wishing to enter law school.

Aboriginal Employment in the Justice System

Government of Manitoba

In 1983 the Manitoba government adopted an employment equity policy. This policy identified four target groups that, in the opinion of the government of the day, had been the victims of systemic discrimination in employment and were, therefore, underrepresented in the Manitoba government workforce. The target groups were women, Aboriginal people, visible minorities, and persons with disabilities. Under this policy the government committed to continuing to hire the most capable job applicants, but when applicants were of equal capability, the government would hire the applicant from the target group. The policy's goal was to create a civil service more reflective of the broader society; that goal would be achieved when the percentage of women, Aboriginal people, members of visible minorities, and persons with disabilities employed by the government was equal to their presence in the Manitoba population. When the program was established in 1983, its goal for the year 2003 was 50 percent for women, 10 percent for Aboriginal people, 7 percent for persons with disabilities, and 6 percent for visible minorities.

This policy has remained in place since 1983. The AJI's proposed employment equity legislation was never adopted, and the Employment Equity Commission was not created. Progress towards the government's goals has been different for different target groups. In 1987 women accounted for 45.6 percent of the civil service; in 2000, they accounted for 49.58 percent. In 1987 Aboriginal people accounted for 2.01 percent of the civil service, in 2000, they accounted for 7.3 percent of the civil service. However, when one subtracts seasonal and part-time Aboriginal employees of the Conservation Department, this figure drops to 6 percent. Persons with disabilities accounted for 2.01 percent of the civil service in 1987 and 2.5 percent in 2000. Visible minorities accounted for 2.26 percent of the civil service in 1987 and 2.84 percent in 2000.

While there has been an increase of over 100 percent of Aboriginal people within the Manitoba civil service over the past 13 years, it is apparent that the government will not reach its 10 percent goal in 2003. Furthermore, the rapid growth in the Aboriginal population over the past decade suggests that a 10 percent target may be too low in light of the government's original goals for the program.

The hiring of Aboriginal people has progressed at different rates in different departments. For example, 30 percent of Northern Affairs employees were Aboriginal in 2000, while 4.7 percent of the Civil Service Commission (the body ultimately charged with overseeing the employment equity policy) was Aboriginal. In 2000 Aboriginal people accounted for 8.53 percent of the people working for Justice, 8.8 percent of the people working for Health, and 8 percent of the people working for Family Services. Information provided by the Manitoba government in February 2001 indicated that Aboriginal people accounted for 10.4 percent of the employees in the Department of Justice. From this it would appear that Justice has achieved the employment equity targets established in 1983 and is close to achieving the AJI's minimum goal.

There are a number of potential explanations for the failure of the program to reach its overall goals. One of these is the fact that during the past decade, there has been no growth in the size of the civil service. A period of protracted restraint and devolution has created a situation where the Manitoba civil service is smaller than it was in 1987.

The continued social issues that Aboriginal communities face have also played an unfortunate role in reducing the number of potential job applicants from the Aboriginal community. Poor housing, poor infant health, and diminished educational opportunities all combine to limit the number of Aboriginal people who possess the qualifications required to compete for certain government positions. This issue is discussed at length elsewhere in this report, but it worth emphasizing that policies that focus on supporting families, young people, and communities are the needed foundation for success in meeting other goals, such as an increase in Aboriginal employment. Increase in the availability of childcare is also needed to allow Aboriginal people to participate in the labour force in greater numbers.

Once these comments have been taken into account, the fact remains that the minimum goal set by the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry ten years ago has not been attained in the Department of Justice, nor has it been attained across the civil service. Finally, it must be noted that the major AJI initiative that had been recommended for this area has not been implemented. One is drawn back to the AJI observation on the lack of consequences for failing to meet employment equity goals, and how this reflected a lack of government commitment.



Manitoba police forces have experienced more success than the Manitoba government in increasing the number of Aboriginal people it has recruited and retained.

For example:

  • The RCMP has 108 Aboriginal members in the province (about 11 percent of the total number of officers and nearly 20 percent of those assigned to contract policing).

  • Twenty-one of the RCMP's detachment clerks are Aboriginal (about 20 percent of the total).

  • The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) has 100 Aboriginal officers (compared with the 18 it had in 1990). As a result, approximately 8.5 percent of the WPS officers are Aboriginal.

  • Of the Winnipeg Police Services civilian staff, 2.3 percent are Aboriginal

The progress made by police departments, during a time when they were experiencing the same economic pressures as the Manitoba government, suggests that political will, manifested by aggressive recruiting, training, and retention programs, can lead to improved results when it comes to Aboriginal employment.


The Approach of the Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission

The Commission is in agreement with the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry's emphasis on the need for greater Aboriginal employment in the justice system. Increased numbers of Aboriginal people employed in a system that deals with large numbers of Aboriginal people will improve the system's credibility and legitimacy among Aboriginal people. Secondly, an increase in Aboriginal people working in the justice system is the best way to ensure that justice services are being provided in a manner that is culturally appropriate. This will improve communication and understanding between those who are administering justice and those Aboriginal people who find their lives being administered by the justice system. This will render the system more efficient and more effective. It would also create role models for young Aboriginal people and, more immediately, create economic opportunities for Aboriginal persons.

The Commission recognizes that while there has been an improvement in Aboriginal employment in the justice system, the minimal goals set by the Manitoba government in 1983 and the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry in 1991 have not been met.

The question that remains is how to achieve those goals. The AJIC has reviewed literature on efforts to increase Aboriginal employment and has commissioned its own research on the topic. It is clear that a process that simply posts job notices in the traditional fashion and waits for Aboriginal candidates to apply will not make considerable progress on this issue.


Trends in Public-Sector Employment

The last decade has been a period of public-sector contraction. The Commission notes that the downsizing of the Manitoba civil service over the past decade has had a number of detrimental effects on Aboriginal people that go beyond the government's difficulties in meeting employment goals. The impacts of downsizing and restraint policies have fallen heavily on services and programs that address the needs of Aboriginal people, whether or not they are involved in the justice system. Child and family service workers, Legal Aid lawyers, public school teachers, and probation officers--to name only a few of the workers who provide crucial services to Aboriginal people--carry larger caseloads than they did a decade ago and often find themselves working with fewer resources. To the degree that they have placed more young Aboriginal people at risk of coming into conflict with the law, reduced the system's ability to aid Aboriginal people who are in trouble, and limited employment opportunities, such policies of public-sector contraction have frustrated the spirit and intent of the AJI report.

For a variety of reasons, it appears that the opportunity exists to reverse these trends. Demographics are creating the opportunity for a renewal of the public sector. It is anticipated that over the next five years, approximately 2000 positions will become available with the Manitoba government as the result of retirements (Anokiiwin Employment Solutions, page 20). Coupled with the types of investments in prevention that are described elsewhere in this report, there will be significant opportunities to hire Aboriginal people in the public sector. There is also a growing number of Aboriginal people entering the labour market each year; currently, Aboriginal persons account for one in four new members of the labour force.



The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Committee endorses the goals of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry for increased hiring of Aboriginal persons. The AJIC applauds those agencies that have achieved significant increases in employment. It would appear that those improvements are the result of management's commitment to improve recruiting, enhance training opportunities, remove barriers to employment, and enhance retention. The AJIC believes these measures offer the most effective tools to increase Aboriginal employment. While there may well be merit to an enforcement mechanism, such as an employment equity commission, the AJIC is mindful of the need to invest resources in as effective a manner as possible. For that reason, the AJIC is not recommending that such a commission be established at this time.

Therefore, the Commission is not prepared to recommend a legislated employment equity act or employment equity commission. However, it does endorse the employment goals set out by the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry. These goals should guide the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of an Aboriginal Employment Strategy. The Commission also notes that Manitoba Conservation has recently adopted an Aboriginal Employment Strategy. This strategy stresses the importance of:

  • creating an Aboriginal Employment Coordinator

  • providing managers with training about the strategy

  • using targetted programs to ensure that Aboriginal people are hired into management positions

  • recruiting proactively

  • setting clear targets, timelines, and accountability

  • emphasizing the need for adequate resources and clear communication

Anokiiwin Employment Solutions prepared a paper for the Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission, entitled Aboriginal Employment Strategy (which is available on the AJIC website), that makes many of these points, as well. The rationale for implementing such a strategy in the Justice department are as clear as they were in 1991:

  • The government has committed itself to employment equity across the civil service.

  • Increasing the number of Aboriginal persons employed in the Justice department (and the justice system in general) will increase the justice system's legitimacy, credibility, and efficiency.

There are, as noted above, two additional reasons why the government should act on this measure immediately:

  • The pending wave of retirements in the civil service creates the opportunity to increase Aboriginal representation.

  • The growing presence of Aboriginal persons in the labour market increases the opportunity to recruit and train Aboriginal employees.



The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission recommends that:


The Government of Manitoba adopt, in consultation with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Metis Federation, a five-year Aboriginal employment strategy. The government must make annual reports to the public on its progress in implementing this program.

The Commission believes the employment strategy should incorporate the following elements:

  • A commitment from both the political and administrative leadership to increasing the number of Aboriginal employees in accordance with the recommendations of the AJI. This commitment must spell out political and administrative accountability, and identify and detail the appropriate financial resources. There must be goals, a timeline, and responsibility for meeting the goals within the designated time frame.

  • A review of current employment systems to identify barriers.

  • An increase in Aboriginal human resource capacity within government departments. This should include the hiring of Aboriginal Human Resource Officers.

  • Formal initiatives to improve Aboriginal recruitment, retention, and advancement. This would include, but not be limited to, outreach and preparatory training; restating occupational qualifications to provide recognition of those positions for which knowledge of Aboriginal languages and culture is a qualification; culturally sensitive marketing mechanisms to recruit applicants; and monitoring of program effectiveness.

  • A review, improvement, and expansion of the Aboriginal Management Development program.

  • Development mechanisms to ensure Aboriginal access to career-advancement and employee-support services.

  • Establishment of a union-management partnership to identify, address, and eliminate employment barriers within government.


Officers of the Court

Several important roles in the Manitoba justice system are filled by individuals who are appointees with varying degrees of independence, and are appointed through various processes. These include Provincial Court judges, magistrates, hearing officers, masters, and referees. For the same arguments advanced in the above section on the need for an Aboriginal hiring strategy, there are good public policy reasons for ensuring that a significant number of these positions are held by Aboriginal people.

The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission recommends that:


The Government of Manitoba make a public commitment to appoint forthwith a significant number of Aboriginal people to the positions of Provincial Court judge, magistrate, hearing officer, referee, and master.


Board and Commissions

The lives of Aboriginal people are affected by a wide range of provincial government boards and commissions. The AJIC recommends that the same hiring goals endorsed by the AJI--namely no less than the percentage of Aboriginal people in Manitoba and, optimally, a number equal to the percentage of Aboriginal people served by a department and its agencies--be applied to appointments to government boards and commissions.

The board that has the most significance in the administration of justice is the Board of Directors of Legal Aid Manitoba. The fact that a significant percentage of the Legal Aid Manitoba clientele are Aboriginal led the AJIC to write to the Minister of Justice in January 2001, recommending that "there be a significant number of Aboriginal directors."

The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission recommends that:


The Government of Manitoba appoint forthwith a significant number of Aboriginal people to the Board of Directors of Legal Aid Manitoba.


The Government of Manitoba adopt a policy requiring appropriate representation of Aboriginal people on all provincial boards, commissions, agencies, and other institutions.


An Aboriginal Justice College

The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry recommendations called for a significant increase in the number of Aboriginal people working in the Manitoba justice system. The Inquiry recognized that dedicated efforts would be needed to ensure a trained workforce prepared to take on these positions. For this reason, the AJI made the following recommendations:

  • The Aboriginal Justice Commission establish an Aboriginal Justice College with its own Aboriginal board of directors, and staffed by Aboriginal people, to provide training and continuing education for Aboriginal people who wish to assume positions of employment within both the existing justice system and Aboriginal justice systems.

  • Training provided by the Aboriginal Justice College include preparation for such positions as judges, attorneys, police officers, correctional officers, court clerks, administrators, interpreters, court workers, peacemakers, youth justice committee directors, social workers, probation and parole officers, and others, as exist within the present justice system and as are needed to establish and maintain Aboriginal justice systems.

  • The Aboriginal Justice College organize courses in cross-cultural understanding for non-Aboriginal personnel.

The AJIC is also recommending a significant increase in the number of Aboriginal people employed in the justice system, and recognizes the need for specific training opportunities for Aboriginal people. Manitoba Education and Training prepared a discussion paper for the AJIC on this topic. The paper, which is available on the AJIC website, lists four options.

1. A College established by provincial legislation

An Aboriginal Justice College established under the provincial Council on Post-Secondary Education Act could:

  • parallel the experience of existing institutions

  • involve a free-standing physical structure

  • be Aboriginally governed with a Board of Directors

  • be mandated to manage, develop, and deliver accredited education and training programs

  • receive base funding from the Government of Manitoba

2. An affiliated college/technical training institute

A free-standing Aboriginal Justice College could have a formal affiliation relationship with an existing college or university. The college would be:

  • Aboriginally owned and operated.

  • responsible for managing, developing, and delivering accredited education and training programs

Formal affiliation would address issues such as broad program accreditation, and joint development and delivery partnerships. Examples of this kind of approach in a Canadian context include the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, which is affiliated with the University of Regina.

3. An Institute within an existing educational institution

An Aboriginal Justice Institute could operate within an existing college. Such an approach could be:

  • funded as a new or base budget initiative within an existing college or university's annual budget allocation

  • supported by investment from Aboriginal and other sectors of the province

This model would provide less independence in governance and autonomy.

4. A virtual Aboriginal Justice College

Under this proposal there would be no physical college. Instead, an Aboriginal Justice College or Authority could be established, with the following features:

  • Aboriginal governance

  • mandate to establish short- and long-term education and training objectives

  • authority to broker and/or contract the services of institutional and community-based providers

  • provincial funding

This type of model would involve no formal academic/educational standing. As a result, the opportunity for independent action and autonomy would arguably be somewhat reduced.


The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission recommends that:


The Government of Manitoba, through the Manitoba Department of Education and the Manitoba Department of Justice, work with the Manitoba Metis Federation and the Association of Manitoba Chiefs to establish an Aboriginal Justice Institute with an appropriate tripartite governance structure. The institute would use existing courses and would develop new culturally appropriate training programs to assist Aboriginal people to work in the current justice system and in evolving approaches such as community and restorative justice.


Law School

According to the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry in 1991, only ten Aboriginal lawyers were practising law in Manitoba. To address this issue, the AJI made the following recommendations:

  • The University of Manitoba Faculty of Law establish a recruitment program whereby Aboriginal students (including those in high schools) throughout Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario are encouraged to attend law school.

  • The Faculty of Law review the manner in which it makes use of the Law School Admission Test scores and grade point averages of law school applicants to ensure that Aboriginal students capable of successfully completing law school are not thereby unfairly eliminated.

  • The Faculty of Law increase the number of Aboriginal law students it accepts into first-year law. The minimum number of students it should be accepting would be 12% of each class, the same proportion as the proportion of Aboriginal people in the general population. Entrance levels should also include an additional number to overcome historical imbalances

  • The Faculty of Law engage an Aboriginal person as a member of its faculty with the primary responsibility of providing support services to Aboriginal students and with the secondary role of developing materials on, and teaching, Aboriginal law.

  • The Faculty of Law undertake the development of a full credit course or courses in Aboriginal legal issues, and ensure that Aboriginal issues are included as part of the core courses taught to each law student.

  • The Faculty of Law organize and sponsor a conference of law schools from across Canada, to be held for the purpose of addressing the issue of increasing the numbers of Aboriginal law graduates in Canada so as to accomplish two objectives:

    • To overcome historical imbalances in Aboriginal under-representation in the legal profession.

    • To establish entry levels of Aboriginal law students that will ensure that the Aboriginal presence in the legal profession reflects the Aboriginal presence in the population generally.

  • The Faculty of Law and the Aboriginal Justice College establish a pre-law program for Aboriginal students wishing to enter law school.

The Dean of the University of Manitoba Law School, prior to the report's being issued, had determined that a more strategic initiative was required to increase the numbers of Aboriginal students in the law school. With this view, the faculty established a program for the recruitment and support of Aboriginal students. The Academic Support Program is in its eleventh year and has witnessed a significant increase in the number of students entering law school and graduating annually. A continuing challenge for the program is to increase the number of Aboriginal students applying to enter law school. It has only met its minimum target of 10 percent annually once in the past ten years. However, the law school has not limited the target and has accepted as many students as were qualified in any given year. A factor for the law school is that it must compete with all Canadian law schools for a limited number of students, and some students have gone to other institutions.

With regard to admissions to the law school, there has been an overall attempt to not be limited to the traditional indicators for admission. However, the Law School Admissions Test still plays a significant role in the file review of all Aboriginal students' applications. The entire admissions process continues to be a matter of discussion for many law school institutions, and is not a matter that is easily resolved.

The Academic Support Program did engage an Aboriginal person to manage the provision of support services to Aboriginal and other non-mainstream students. Recruitment of Aboriginal students is a continuing obligation of the program. However, the program has been dependent upon grants for recruiting, and various initiatives at different times have been utilized to encourage university and high-school students to attend law school. At this time, the university is attempting a new program of recruitment where all Access programs, including the Faculty of Law, have pooled resources to achieve a more sustained approach to Aboriginal student recruitment.

The Faculty of Law did have a "Native People and the Law" course for a number of years previous and subsequent to the AJI's report. A new course, entitled "Aboriginal People and the Law - Land Claims," has been added in the past three years. Both courses are taught by the director of the Academic Support Program at this time. As well, a number of professors have and continue to include major components dealing with Aboriginal people and the law in their courses.

A conference of all law schools, for the discussion of increasing the numbers of Aboriginal students, was held in 1991. The meeting did initiate an annual meeting of all law schools for a number of years to discuss diversity and recruitment of indigenous and non-mainstream students.


Culturally Appropriate Services

The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry made two recommendations related to the provision of culturally appropriate spiritual services in Manitoba correctional facilities. Specifically, the report recommended that:

  • Correctional institutions develop a policy whereby elders recognized by provincial Aboriginal organizations as capable of providing traditional assistance or spiritual advice and counseling to Aboriginal inmates in a culturally appropriate manner, be granted status equivalent to chaplains under the Chaplaincy program of the Corrections Branch.

  • The Correctional Services of Canada and the Corrections Branch of the Manitoba Department of Justice institute a policy on Aboriginal spirituality which:

    1. Guarantees the right of Aboriginal people to spiritual services appropriate to their culture.

    2. Recognizes appropriate Aboriginal organizations to provide Aboriginal spiritual services.

    3. Provides training for correctional staff on Aboriginal spirituality, on the relative importance of such services to Aboriginal people, on the different practices and beliefs likely to be encountered, on how those practices and beliefs can and should be accommodated by correctional staff and on how to handle traditional items of spiritual significance to Aboriginal people.

    4. Provides for the hiring of knowledgeable personnel within each institution who can advise corrections staff on how to deal with cultural issues arising within the institution's Aboriginal population.

    5. Provides for the attendance of Aboriginal inmates at spiritual ceremonies outside jail.

The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission has been informed that these recommendations have been acted upon. However, the Manitoba Metis Federation has communicated to the AJIC that the MMF has not been involved in any culturally appropriate programming in correctional institutions, and that the Elders and cultural workers in provincial institutions are largely First Nations people.

The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission recommends that:


The Government of Manitoba solicit the views of the Manitoba Metis Federation and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to ensure the appropriateness of spiritual and cultural programming in correctional institutions.


Cross-Cultural Training

The Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry stated that:

Most people in the justice system have little understanding of Aboriginal people, their history, culture, or way of life. Our study has convinced us that there are widespread misconceptions about Aboriginal people and about their perception of the law and the legal system. (AJI, Volume I, page 660)

In response to this situation, the AJI recommended that cross-cultural training be provided to give non-Aboriginal people a better understanding of Aboriginal communities and cultural values. Specifically, the AJI recommended that:

  • Cross-cultural training programs be mandatory for all non-Aboriginal probation staff, and that there be an ongoing series of refresher courses.

  • Cross-cultural training programs and ongoing refresher courses be mandatory for all corrections staff.

  • Cross-cultural education components of all police training courses be reviewed and strengthened, and this process actively involve members of the Aboriginal community, resource persons and recognized experts.

  • All police officers be rotated through cross-cultural education programs, and periodic refresher programs be provided as part of the regular professional development programs of all police departments.

  • Federal, provincial and municipal governments, individually or in concert, with the assistance and involvement of Aboriginal people, establish formal cross-cultural educational programs for all those working in any part of the justice system who have even occasional contact with Aboriginal people.

  • Cross-cultural education components of all police training courses be reviewed and strengthened, and this process actively involve members of the Aboriginal community, resource persons and recognized experts.

The AJIC has been informed by the Manitoba government that there has been a significant increase in cross-cultural training. Manitoba Justice, the Winnipeg and Brandon police services, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police all provide cross-cultural training. In addition, the Manitoba Civil Service Commission has developed a number of cross-cultural courses available to all government employees. They include "Walk a Mile in my Moccasins", "Communicating with Aboriginal People", and "Cultural Diversity". All these programs are geared to non-Aboriginal personnel to assist them to gain a better understanding of Aboriginal peoples.

These measures play an important role in ensuring that Aboriginal people who come into contact with the Manitoba justice system are treated in an appropriate manner. Secondly, they are crucial elements in any Aboriginal employment strategy, since the retention of Aboriginal employees depends in large measure on the workplace climate.

The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission recommends that:


The Government of Manitoba continue at all levels of government to employ cross-cultural training programs and to conduct regular evaluations of the effectiveness of such training.


The Government of Manitoba adopt a policy that prefers Aboriginal people to deliver cross-cultural training programs.


Table of Contents
Executive Summary
Section 1 - The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry: background and key issues
Section 2 - Aboriginal Rights and Aboriginal Relations
Section 3 - Community and Restorative Justice
Section 4 - Crime Prevention through Community Development
Section 5 - Concluding Thoughts

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