Module 2: Aboriginal Sentencing Considerations

Now that you have successfully completed module one, you have an understanding of the general criminal sentencing principles in Canada.  In this module we consider how those principals have been interpreted / and emphasized, by the Supreme Court in regard to Aboriginal offenders.

Remember, decisions issued by the Supreme Court are not merely guidance for all other courts in Canada, they are ‘binding guidance.’ 

In other words, all Courts in every province and territory in Canada must follow the direction as set out by the Supreme Court.

Aboriginals make up 23% of inmates in Canada, yet are only 4% of the Canadian Population. 

This is an increase of 40% in the number of aboriginals detained in Canada’s federal prisons over the previous ten years . 

Clearly not a positive indicator of restorative justice in action.

In this module we will discuss Canadian Aboriginal sentencing principals set out in three appeal cases decided by the Supreme Court of Canada.  Remember, the tasks of Aboriginal Justice Workers, is to assist the court in sentencing matters. 

Principally, it is not to tell the Court what the sentence should be, rather to give the Court some realistic options that fit the offender before the Court, and which will achieve restorative justice.

The first case is from 1999 is R v Gladue and the other an appeal in 2012 called R v Ipeelee.

In addition, we will discuss recent lower court decisions, which seek to apply the direction given by the Supreme Court of Canada and also the place of historical trauma in the context of the Gladue principles.

In the final module, we will focus on how these sentencing directions now known collectively as the  "Gladue Principles" work together to achieve restorative justice.