For too long aboriginal and First Nations offenders have been over-represented in the Canadian prison system. That is changing with the institution of a special court in London to deal with the issues that affect Aboriginal Canadians.
Section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code directs the Courts to consider all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders. In R. v. Gladue 133 C.C.C. (3d) 385, the Supreme Court of Canada held that this section of the Criminal Code directed the Courts to sentence aboriginal offenders differently, because the circumstances of aboriginal people are unique. The judge must consider the unique systemic or background factors that may have played a part in bringing the offender before the court and the types of sentencing procedures that may be appropriate in the circumstances because of the offender’s heritage or connection to his culture.
James Zegers has represented aboriginal clients for over twenty years and is familiar to the cultural and systemic factors addressed by the Supreme Court of Canada.