In response to the Supreme Court's direction to reduce the population of aboriginal inmates, the province has issued grants of about $400,000 to staff in Treaty 3 territory. Two of them -- Bev Williamson and Cheryl Becker -- are charged with preparing what's called Gladue reports. Williamson explains how they work.
"That's to try and get them into a non-custodial type of sentence," she said. "It might give them some time in custody, but overall we're looking wanting to reduce that. So, they have some options to rectify their options, and hopefully that promotes healing."
For many years, the court has been adopting ways to avoid detention, such as domestic dispute or non-violent first offences, such as youth accused of mischief
Williamson adds the process can be quite challenging, at times.
"We're working with the dynamics of the Anishinabe person, who has these charges against them. We're also working with the families that are involved with them. It's not always going to be a happy interaction," she said.
Cheryl Becker says a good Gladue report will also suggest ways to help offenders heal and reduce the chances they'll re-offend. She says some of the common factors that may lead to alcoholism and criminal activity are legacies from history.
"There are systemic factors to account for the large number of aboriginal people in the court system," she says.
Becker notes the patterns can include the legacies of residential schools, the 60s scoops and the large number of aboriginal children taken into foster care.
Williamson adds they also reach out to area First Nations when preparing their reports, in order to make sure there's support, when the offender's released.
"We're finding out what their history is. What kind of supports they have. What kind of healing. Who's going to help them. How can they get help," she says.
Treaty 3 Grand Chief Warren White supports the Gladue report pilot project. He says there's a lack of Anishinabe people in the court system, and the grants can only help.
Over the next two years, the province will invest $200,000 on Gladue reports in the Treaty 3 area. Another $200,000 will help with alternate dispute resolution methods.
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