A Year of Rapid Growth and Improvement: Reviewing the Progress of BC's Indigenous-led Gladue Services

Since the BC First Nations Justice Council assumed responsibility for Gladue Services in 2021, tremendous strides have been made to improve the quality, awareness, and accessibility of Gladue Reports for Indigenous people.

Okanagan Syilx Territory, Westbank BC, March 27, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Three years ago, a monumental shift in the Indigenous justice landscape occurred when the BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC) assumed responsibility for the administration of Gladue Reports from Legal Aid BC.

“Having an Indigenous-led organization administer and develop Gladue Report Services in BC is groundbreaking. Transitioning from a colonial framework is never easy. Like any transformative work it is rife with challenges and growing pains, including the lack of sustainable funding and demands that frequently outpace capacity,” stated Dr. Judith Sayers, BCFNJC Council Member. “While we are actively addressing and overcoming these challenges, BCFNJC’s Gladue Services Department has upheld the commitment to provide Indigenous people with high-quality, trauma informed Gladue Reports, and has consistently improved and strengthened processes and policies to achieve this.”

The Gladue Services Department expanded its team in June 2023 from two full-time writers to a team of thirteen and is currently transitioning from a roster of Gladue Report Writers to a staff model of permanent, full-time writers. The expanded staff model also includes roles for Support Workers who can enhance cultural competency and trauma-informed care and collaborate with staff writers and Indigenous communities to implement restorative justice plans, gather resources, and develop comprehensive healing plans and aftercare reports for people served.

In addition to providing trauma-informed and person-centered care, the Gladue Services Department has introduced new protocols and tools to improve the oversight and quality of Gladue Reports, including in-house Gladue writer training, a formalized internal legal review process, and a new Gladue Report template and style guide.

The Gladue Services Department has also enhanced report quality through research and community resources, offering judges and justice partners a clearer understanding of the link between the impacts of colonization and an Indigenous person’s current circumstances. The standards BCFNJC holds for Gladue Reports is high, and the team is committed to ensuring these standards remain exceptional. As well as enhancing quality, BCFNJC has increased productivity to work toward meeting demand. For comparison, over an 11-year period, Legal Aid BC produced an average of 120 Gladue reports per year. Over the three years of operations, BCFNJC has produced an average of 383 reports per year.

“This year the Gladue Services Department has truly risen to the challenge of navigating and finding the balance between consistently fulfilling initiatives, addressing the pressing need for Gladue reports, and ensuring that our future approach will better serve Indigenous people across the province,” continued Dr. Judith Sayers, BCFNJC Council Member. “BCFNJC holds a mandate from 200+ First Nations in BC to transform the justice system for the better. Our focus for the year ahead will be engagement and relationship-building with these Nations so that our Gladue Reports can better support their traditional laws and legal traditions and our Support Workers can better connect clients to resources and healing pathways through their Nations and communities.”

The Gladue Services Department still faces challenges in terms of capacity and a lack of sustainable funding. Having an Indigenous-led organization administer Gladue Report writing and after care has increased the demand for services and in turn challenged the capacity of the team. Recently, the shortfall of supply versus demand has forced BCFNJC to adopt a prioritization process to ensure that requests from those whose liberty is most at risk are met but rejects the requests of others. The team now provides Gladue letters for matters with a sentencing range of 6 to 24 months in jail and Gladue reports for matters facing jailtime of over 24 months. Additionally. Gladue reports will be provided for Dangerous Offender and Parole Hearings on a case-by-case basis. More sustainable funding and resources are needed if BCFNJC is to bridge this gap, expand its operations, and provide Gladue Services to all Indigenous Peoples in BC who request them.




About the BCFNJC

The BC First Nations Justice Council has been entrusted with the mandate to transform the justice system and create better outcomes for Indigenous people through implementation of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy.

The strategy, signed March 06, 2020, was jointly developed by the BC First Nations Justice Council, BC First Nations communities and the Province of British Columbia. It includes 43 actions along two paths which involve the reformation of the current system as well as the restoration of First Nations’ legal traditions and structures. More information available at www.bcfnjc.com 


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