One—eliminating legal provisions that discriminate against indigenous women—has been mentioned. Next is compulsory training for all law enforcement, judges, and Correctional Service of Canada staff regarding indigenous peoples, particularly on the specific circumstances of indigenous women.
I've been trying to do culturally sensitive training with the police for 13 years. I'm happy to report that I met with a body of police officers at Deerhurst two weeks ago, and that was a breakthrough. Change is happening, but it really needs to happen on a larger scale.
Next, ensure enforcement and application of Gladue principles. I can't stress that enough. People are checking off the box, but there are no Gladue principles being articulated by lawyers who are representing indigenous clients.
Next is facilitation and implementation of sections 81 and 84 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act for the benefit of criminalized indigenous women prisoners.
I'm hearing about the Buffalo Sage facility and other instances in which beds are given away to non-indigenous women. We have such high rates of incarceration for indigenous women, but because of their high classification, they're not making it into those healing lodges. I agree with looking at classification and at transferring, where there are medical needs, because there is an extreme amount of mental health difficulty and PTSD for these women.
Make sure that they have access to culturally based programs and spiritual services while in prison, and take all necessary measures to address the issue of separation of indigenous children from their parents.
Provide adequate supports and counselling with respect to mental health and well-being while inside and ensure healing and coping strategies to deal with matters on the outside.
Here is a huge issue: supporting indigenous women in their pursuit of education, as has been said. Indigenous women have low completion rates while incarcerated. This would include providing life skills and other training that will help with their successful integration.
We now know statistically that in Canada indigenous women have higher education than indigenous men, but it's not translating into income. We need to shift that. We need support programs that will help indigenous women to be able to participate in the workforce and to access employment upon release. In particular, trades is a great avenue for our women to follow, so that their first job will bring a sustainable income with which they can support themselves and their children.
Another need is helping indigenous women to secure safe and affordable housing for themselves and their children upon release. We have stories of women who are given four bus tickets. They get on a bus, they take it as far as it will go, and they go and commit a crime so that they'll get back and have a place to live. There's no plan in place.
We need to have those plans for women, as well as safety plans for women and children who are escaping violent situations, with proper transitional supports and programs that support their physical and psychological well-being upon release.
Thank you for that opportunity.