In an effort to address the over-representation of Indigenous Canadians in the corrections system and put a greater emphasis on restorative justice, a five-year agreement has been struck to fund the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I.’s Indigenous justice program.
The tripartite agreement between the federal government, the province of P.E.I. and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island (MCPEI) will total $600,000 and will support community-based justice programming and projects. The agreement helps provide MCPEI with stability for long-term planning to serve Indigenous communities.
Mi’kmaq chiefs Brian Francis and Mattilda Ramjattan welcome this agreement as a way to offer more support to all Indigenous people involved in the criminal justice system in P.E.I.
“As leaders, we want to make our communities as safe as possible and that can only be achieved if the program has the capacity to provide a comprehensive range of culturally appropriate services to all Indigenous people,” the chiefs said in a joint statement.
“This funding is an important step toward the MCPEI Indigenous justice program being able to continue to deliver fair, equitable and culturally sensitive programming for all Indigenous people across P.E.I.”
The MCPEI Indigenous justice program strives to develop sustainable justice support systems for Mi’kmaq and other Indigenous persons in the P.E.I. justice system. The program holds justice circles, including for the accused, victims, families and the community. It also provides ongoing education to justice system personnel and partners in order to increase their understanding of Indigenous justice issues. As well, where appropriate, the program supports Indigenous persons caught in the criminal justice system with accessing culturally-relevant, community based justice alternatives.
“That Indigenous Canadians are at a disproportionately higher risk of being involved in the criminal justice system, both as offenders and as victims, is an intolerable situation that our government is working very hard to address,” said federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.
“Today’s announcement reflects our government’s commitment to implement all the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action, including through addressing gaps in services to Indigenous peoples, and increasing the use of restorative justice processes and other initiatives within our criminal justice system.”
The MCPEI is a not-for-profit tribal council and a provincial/territorial organization that works to advance Indigenous and treaty rights on Prince Edward Island. In addition to the Indigenous justice program, it delivers a wide range of programs and services, including event management services, the Aboriginal skills employment training strategy, child and family services, education, health and economic development.