Is sentencing different if I’m Indigenous?

2. Show how the Gladue principles apply to you

At your sentencing , your lawyer or will need to address the Gladue principles. This includes information about your background and experience as an Indigenous person. Your background information is sometimes called Gladue factors.

Examples of Gladue factors include:

  • Is the accused person or someone in their family a residential schools survivor?
  • Is the accused person or someone in their family a survivor of the “Sixties Scoop“, where the government removed Indigenous children from their homes?
  • Was the accused person put in a foster home or involved in the child protection system?
  • Has the accused person experienced poverty?
  • Has the accused person or someone in their family experienced racism, trauma, childhood abuse, violence, or addictions?

Your lawyer must also make arguments to show how the Gladue principles apply to you. This is called making “Gladue submissions”. Examples of Gladue submissions include:

  • Has the accused person experienced systemic discrimination in their or ? For example, were they removed from their community so they could be brought to court?
  • Will a jail have an unreasonable or unfair effect on the accused person?

Even if your sentencing hearing does not involve a or Gladue Report, your lawyer must make Gladue arguments on your behalf.

It’s important to tell your lawyer or duty counsel if you self-identify as Indigenous. Everything you tell a lawyer is confidential and can’t be shared in court without your permission. With your permission, your lawyer will tell the court about your Indigenous identity. You can choose both what you want to share with your lawyer and what your lawyer shares with the court.

Sharing information about your personal background might make you feel uncomfortable. But sharing this information can help the sentencing judge to better understand your circumstances and the challenges you have faced.

Telling the court about the Gladue factors you have experienced can help to get you a sentence that is reasonable in your circumstances.

The Gladue principles allow the judge to use “restorative justice principles” to decide on an appropriate sentence for an Indigenous accused. Restorative justice focuses on personal and community accountability and healing, rather than punishment.

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