Ottawa has committed $1.16 million to the Nunatsiavut Government to combat the overrepresentation of Inuit in the justice system.
Nunatsiavut is the Inuit region of Labrador.
Johannes Lampe, president of Nunatsiavut, said at a news conference last week that they are ready to work with the federal government, the provincial government and the RCMP to end systemic injustices.
“I feel that Labrador Inuit are targeted, especially those that are incarcerated,” he said.
“These people are provided with legal aid but the lawyers who are trying to help them really don’t understand the issues. There really is no community-based help.”
According to Statistics Canada, Indigenous people made up 32 per cent of the federal prison population in 2020-2021, while making up five per cent of the population in Canada.
A statement by Justice Canada said culturally appropriate, Indigenous-led justice services are required for advancing reconciliation.
The 1.16 million will go to helping the Nunatsiavut Government implement new measures and continue creating cultural and community-based services, as follows:
- $193,378 over four years for an Inuit cultural awareness educator
- $28,500 for the Nunatsiavut Government’s family violence prevention program to ensure trained resources for prevention and intervention are adequate.
- $400,000 for engagement on Indigenous justice strategies to support Inuit-led development of strategies.
- $547,609 over six years to work with the Nunatsiavut Government to increase access to community-based justice services.
Justice Minister David Lametti said during the announcement that the federal government is focused on transforming the justice system to make it just, equitable and accessible.
“The point here and the point of a number of our different programs with Indigenous leadership and Indigenous expertise and Indigenous communities is to bring their experience, their expertise to the table and allow them to lead,” he said.
Lampe said he has invited the ministers to come to the communities and see the situation for themselves.
“It is not just about the RCMP, it’s about how Labrador as a whole needs solutions to better help Labrador Inuit,” he said.