Good afternoon, honourable committee members.
I will begin my remarks by acknowledging that we are gathered on unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin nation, my homeland.
NWAC takes two key positions on Bill C-28.
First, Parliament must address the systemic factors that contribute to indigenous women's substance misuse and indigenous women's overincarceration rates.
Second, indigenous victims of violence must have easy access to gender-specific recovery services that align with indigenous approaches to healing.
As you know, honourable committee members, on May 13, 2022, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the Criminal Code's limitation on the defence of self-induced intoxication.
As a national indigenous organization representing indigenous women, girls, two-spirit, transgender and gender-diverse people, NWAC's criminal reform advocacy seeks to eliminate indigenous overincarceration and prevent systemic factors contributing to violence.
As Bill C-28 engages in the areas of concern, NWAC offers this brief statement to clarify its position.
According to the last report tabled in Parliament from the Correctional Investigator of Canada, Dr. Zinger, indigenous women represent about 50% of federally incarcerated women, despite representing only 4.9% of the adult population. This crisis demonstrates the links between colonization, systemic discrimination and intergenerational trauma. The genocide findings in the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls final report unpacks and explains these systemic factors.
NWAC is invested in ensuring that victims can access indigenous justice and healing supports and services. These supports must align with the community's indigenous legal order. It is important to ensure that community-driven, gender-specific healing and support services are sustainably funded and available to violence victims.
In addition to addressing victims' healing, NWAC emphasizes a harm reduction and prevention framework. Canada's criminal justice system is largely inattentive to the role that substance misuse plays in bringing indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people into contact with the criminal law system as offenders, victims or both. This failure perpetuates substance misuse cycles and overincarceration.
Honourable committee, please also recognize that according to Bill C-28, when the self-induced intoxication defence is successfully applied, no one is held responsible for the harm, but the victim continues to suffer. Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit, transgender and gender-diverse people face a disproportionate likelihood of being victims of violence. In some cases, this violence will be perpetuated by someone acting under the influence of extreme intoxication.
Redressing systemic harms built into the criminal justice system requires understanding the differences between indigenous justice and healing and Canada's criminal law framework. Indigenous legal frameworks engage principles favouring healing, rehabilitation, elder mediation and restorative justice. Indigenous justice and healing models require women, girls, two-spirit, transgender and gender-diverse people who become violence victims to undergo healing and receive support predicated on indigenous understandings of these concepts.
Reconciliation principles require creating legal space for indigenous healing and justice.
Thank you. Meegwetch. Merci.