December 03, 2023

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Ontario Working Towards Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

Ontario Working Towards Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

Ontario has established a new Elders Council that will provide advice to the Attorney General to make the justice system more responsive to the needs of Indigenous people and support the reclamation of Indigenous legal systems.

The new council reflects a commitment made by the province in The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and will incorporate the advice of Elders into government decision-making on matters related to Indigenous peoples in the justice system.

The council includes 13 respected Indigenous Elders from diverse communities across the province:

  • Barney Batise – A Nishnawbe Aski Nation Elder and former Chief of Matachewan First Nation
  • Katsi Cook – Mohawk, of the Wolf Clan, Mohawks of Akwesasne
  • Helen Cromarty – Of Cree ancestry, a member of Sachigo Lake First Nation and a residential school survivor
  • Donna Debassige – Anishinaabe kwe, of the Fish Clan from Mnidoo Mnising (Manitoulin Island), and a member of the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve
  • Albert Dumont – Born and raised in traditional Algonquin territory (Kitigan Zibi)
  • Alex Jacobs – Born at Lake Penage on the Whitefish Lake First Nation Community
  • Janice Longboat – Mohawk, Turtle Clan of Six Nations of the Grand River
  • Marlene Pierre – An Ojibwe of the Fort William First Nation, born and raised in the city of Thunder Bay
  • Verna Porter-Burnelle – Citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario
  • David Serkoak – Born in the northern tip of Nueltin Lake, Nunavut
  • Pauline Shirt – Born and raised in Saddle Lake Reserve, Alberta, residing in Toronto
  • Gilbert Smith – Naicatchewenin First Nation near Fort Frances, Ontario
  • Sally Webster – Born on the land near Baker Lake, Nunavut, now living in Ottawa

Creating a culturally relevant and responsive justice system is one of many steps on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Quick Facts

  • The application of Gladue principles in all Ontario Courts is important in addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. Gladue principles require that systemic and background circumstances of Indigenous accused be considered at bail hearings and sentencing, along with all available sanctions other than imprisonment.
  • Ontario is hosting a three-day Gladue summit in Thunder Bay from November 28 – 30. The summit is another commitment in The Journey Together and is designed to gather input from Indigenous leaders, organizations and communities, along with justice sector representatives, to help address the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.
  • In partnership with Legal Aid Ontario and the federal government, Ontario currently funds Gladue report writers who serve 18 areas across the province.. Ontario also funds 10 Gladue aftercare workers in various parts of the province.
  • As part of the province’s commitment to reconciliation, Ontario has committed an additional $13.3 million over three years to expand the Gladue program.
  • The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, outlines the province’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Background Information

Additional Resources

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About The Author

MUSKRAT Magazine

MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.

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