The Host Agency
The Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC (NCCABC) acts as the delegated host agency for the work of the BCAJC, providing project management, coordination and facilitation. Founded in 1970 as the Native Courtworker pilot project in BC and later expanded in 1973 to add counselling as a service, the NCCABC seeks to connect Indigenous people and communities to relevant programming related to justice. These services include providing Indigenous individuals and families with access to native courtworkers, family and youth services, and support for at-risk youth.
In 2007, the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC), which consists of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the BC Assembly of First Nations, and the First Nations Summit (FNS) held a BC First Nations Justice Forum to provide an opportunity for collaboration on issues related to First Nations justice. The Justice Forum resulted in a draft BC First Nations Action Plan, which was distributed for approval to all BC First Nations. Resolutions for its implementation were subsequently passed in support of a BC First Nations Justice Council.
In 2013, NCCABC initiated work on the Justice Council with the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) by developing the framework entitled ‘Social Justice Policy Platform and Strategic Plan’.
Following this, the NCCABC board approved a strategic direction outlined in ‘Better Outcomes for Aboriginal People and the Justice System: An NCCABC Strategy Framework to Reduce the Overrepresentation of Aboriginal Children, Youth and Adults in the Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems in BC’. In 2014, work was reinitiated by the NCCABC with the FNLC through the passing of additional resolutions, with NCCABC acting as host agency.
As the host agency, NCCABC is responsible for securing and administering the required resources needed for the Justice Council in addition to establishing work plans to support ongoing operations. In terms of structure, the NCCABC has one (1) representative on the seven (7) Council members.
The NCCABC contributes to coordinate the appointment of three (3) additional representatives along with the three (3) representatives appointed by the First Nations Summit, Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the BC Assembly of First Nations.
Indigenous overrepresentation in the criminal justice system
In Canada, research and statistics identify that Indigenous people are overrepresented in the justice system as both victims and offenders.
Indigenous people represent 24.4% of the federal custody population while making up 4.3% of Canada’s total population. Since 2005, the Indigenous population in Canada has increased by 10%, yet the total federal Indigenous inmate population has increased by more than 50%. For Indigenous women, the inmate population has doubled over the last 10 years. Today, incarcerated Indigenous women account for 35.5% of the federally sentenced population.
In the 2014-2015 Annual Report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator, intergenerational trauma, involvement in child welfare, dislocation and dispossession have all been highlighted as contributing factors to this overrepresentation. As recently as 2018, British Columbia has been ranked amongst the lowest in the country in terms of adequately addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples who are incarcerated.
There are equally alarming statistics relating to the overrepresentation of Indigenous people as crime victims and as accused. For example, according to a 2017 report done by Canada’s Department of Justice, Indigenous females have an overall rate of violent victimization that is double that of Indigenous males and close to triple that of non-Indigenous females. That same report noted that in 2015, Indigenous people accounted for 33% of people accused of homicide (10 times that of non-Indigenous people) and that the rate of Indigenous females accused of homicides was about 31 times that of non- Indigenous females.
Indigenous Children and Youth in Care
In 2016, the BC Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) reported that 60.1% (4,445) of children and youth in provincial care are Indigenous. MCFD also reported that Indigenous children and youth make up 10% of BC’s child population. This overrepresentation has contributed to a continued loss of culture, language and connection to community.
Throughout Canada, 48% of the 30,000 children and youth in care are Indigenous.
The Justice Council is composed of seven (7) individuals:
One (1) representative appointed by each of the respective political organizations of the First Nations Summit (FNS), Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), and British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN), according to their own protocol and accord of appointments, for a total of three (3) representatives;
One (1) representative appointed from the Board of Directors of the Native Courtworkers and Counselling Association of British Columbia (NCCABC); and
Three (3) representatives with expertise in Aboriginal Justice in BC, on or off reserve, to be jointly appointed by the respective organizations of the NCCABC, BCAFN, FNS, and UBCIC.
PROCESS AND PRIORITIES
The Justice Council will elect a chairperson by consensus to be responsible for chairing meetings and work with NCCABC staff to arrange meetings, prepare agendas, and report on progress.
To build upon resolutions of the BCAFN, UBCIC, FNS and NCCABC, the goals and priorities of the BCAJC including identifying the policy and program changes and resource realignments required to address the magnitude of issues contributing to the disproportionate patterns of children and youth in care and the overrepresentation of Aboriginal men and women who are incarcerated.