Are bail hearings different if I’m Indigenous?

1. Get legal help

Gladue applies to all Indigenous people. It doesn’t matter if they live on a reserve or off reserve. And it doesn’t matter if they are a youth or adult.

The test for whether Gladue applies is based on self-identification. Self-identification means that, based on you and your family’s lived experience or history, you identify as Indigenous, Métis, First Nations, or Inuit.

You don’t have to have a status card or prove that you’re connected to an Indigenous community for Gladue to apply.

Indigenous court workers

Ask your lawyer or if there is an Indigenous court worker at the courthouse where you’re appearing. If there is an Indigenous court worker, ask your lawyer or duty counsel for a referral.

Indigenous court workers often work out of Indigenous Friendship Centres. Most courthouses have an Indigenous court worker who can:

  • offer you support
  • give you legal information
  • help you apply for a Legal Aid certificate
  • refer you to community services for help with issues like mental health, trauma, addictions, or homelessness
  • help you with your release plan for your
  • help you with Indigenous , if appropriate

Other organizations

If there is no Indigenous court worker, ask your lawyer or duty counsel if there is an Indigenous organization that helps individuals either in or upon release.

In some places, there are Indigenous Bail Verification and Supervision Programs (BVSP). BVSPs offer support to people who need a to be released on but don’t have one.

There are also non-Indigenous organizations like the John Howard Society and Elizabeth Fry Society who offer similar supports.

Release plan

The Indigenous court worker can help you to make a release plan. Someone from an Indigenous organization or Bail Program might also be able meet with you in custody to help you make a release plan.

The purpose of the release plan is to outline the community resources that are available to you while you’re on bail waiting for your , and to give details about where you will be living. For example, the plan might suggest Indigenous supports for mental health, trauma, addictions, or homelessness. It might also include suggestions for participation in cultural activities.

Your lawyer or duty counsel can use your release plan to negotiate with the Crown. With a good release plan, the Crown might agree to release you without a bail .

If the Crown won’t agree to your release, you will have a bail hearing instead. Your lawyer or duty counsel can present your release plan at your bail hearing to try to convince the court to release you.

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