Resources for Indigenous Victims (4:XI)
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on June 30, 2021.|
Indigenous peoples are overrepresented in Canada’s criminal justice system as victims of crime. In 2014, 28% of Indigenous people (aged 15+) reported being victimized in the previous 12 months, compared to 18% of non-Indigenous Canadians . The rate of violent victimization among Indigenous people was more than double that of non-Indigenous people (163 incidents per 1,000 people vs. 74 incidents per 1,000 people).
The higher rates of victimization observed among Indigenous people appear to be related to the increased presence of other risk factors—such as experiencing childhood maltreatment, perceiving social disorder in one’s neighbourhood, having been homeless, using drugs, or having fair or poor mental health . We know these risk factors are the direct result of the deep-rooted history of colonization and resulting intergenerational trauma that has victimized indigenous peoples in Canada for over a century.
a) The Native Courtworker Program
The native courtworker program is administered by the native courtworker and counselling association of British Columbia (NCCABC) and assists indigenous victims with access to justice when involved in the criminal justice system. They work to ensure victims obtain fair, just, equitable and culturally sensitive treatment. This program is jointly funded by the provincial Ministry of Justice and the federal department of justice.
Here is a list of the ways they can assist victims:
- Provide Indigenous accused with appropriate referral to legal resources (as available and where practical).
- Refer Indigenous accused to appropriate social, education, employment, medical and other resources to enable them to address the underlying problems which contribute to their charges and where appropriate, follow-up on these referrals.
- Liaise between Indigenous accused and criminal justice personnel to help overcome communication barriers and reduce Indigenous alienation from the criminal justice system. This may include being available to provide appropriate information to the court and/or speaking on behalf of the accused.
- Inform justice officials about the cultural traditions, values, languages, socio-economic conditions and other concerns of the Indigenous community and the perspective of Indigenous accused. Initiate further understanding when required.
- Promote understanding within the Indigenous community, of the existing criminal justice system and alternative justice processes.
- Promote and facilitate community-based justice initiatives and help build community capacity to identify and address problems, which could end up in the courts or community justice system.
b) WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre
WAVAW’s Indigenous Counselling Program provides one-to-one counselling for Indigenous people of marginalized genders, including trans and cis women, as well as trans, non-binary, and Two Spirit people seeking health, wellness, and safety.
Counselling incorporates Aboriginal healing approaches and traditions based on the Medicine Wheel, which focus on spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical balance.
Additionally, WAVAW provides support to the family members of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People through various counselling services. These services are designed to address the impacts of loss, trauma, and systemic injustice experienced within the family.
- 24hr Crisis and Information Line: 604-255-6344
- National Toll-Free: 1-877-392-7583
c) Aboriginal Legal Aid BC
This organization aims to help Aboriginal peoples in BC understand their legal rights by providing free legal information and connecting communities to legal support. They follow the lead of their Indigenous Services division, who work to meet the legal needs of Aboriginal peoples in BC through innovative and culturally informed legal aid services.
- 604-408-2172 (Greater Vancouver)
- 1-866-577-2525 (elsewhere in BC)
d) Indigenous Community Legal Clinic
The Indigenous Community Legal Clinic (ICLC) is an educational legal clinic of the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia that provides legal services to the Indigenous community.
The ICLC may be able to provide advice, assistance and representation to eligible clients who cannot afford a lawyer and who self-identify as Indigenous persons.
- Telephone: 604-822-1311
- Toll Free: 1-888-684-7874
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