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Indigenous Courts are criminal sentencing courts that use restorative justice and traditional ways to reach balance and healing. BC's Indigenous Courts are often called Gladue courts. Indigenous Courts focus on balancing rehabilitation, accountability, and healing. With the advice of Elders and your community, the judge creates a healing plan to help restore your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health.


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Indigenous Court focuses on community and healing. Indigenous Court takes a restorative justice approach to sentencing.

Restorative justice means:

  • The judge works with you and your community to come up with a sentence other than jail when possible.

  • Your sentence is meant to restore balance to you, make amends to the victim(s), and heal your community.

  • You and your lawyer work with others to come up with a healing plan.

Before deciding on your sentence or bail conditions, the judge thinks about:

  • your background

  • your current needs

  • where you can get help for the challenges that brought you to court

The judge might order the following information to guide their decision:

  • Gladue submissions (oral or written statements about you as an Aboriginal person)

  • Forensic psychiatric assessments (assessment and report by a doctor)

  • Pre-sentence report, written by a probation officer

  • Gladue report, written by a Gladue report write



You work with a team of people to come up with a healing plan. You can bring family, friends, community members, and other support people to Indigenous Court with you. They don't have to speak out in court. But everyone has a chance to be heard, including

  • Elders

  • you

  • your lawyer

  • duty counsel, if you don't have a lawyer

  • your family

  • your friends or a support person

  • members of your community, or the community in which the harm occurred

  • the victim

  • the victim's family

  • other affected community members

Other people with a role in the court might also speak, including:

  • social workers

  • Native courtworkers

  • counsellors

  • probation officers

  • victim services workers

  • police officers

After everyone who wants to speak has had the opportunity, the judge talks with everyone to come up with a healing plan.


A healing plan:

  • helps you, your community, and the victims of your crime to heal and move on

  • helps you work on the challenges that got you into trouble with the law in the first place (for example, you might have to go to sweats or a healing circle, or do community service)

  • requires you to take responsibility for your actions

In most Indigenous Courts, you return to the court several times, so the judge and Elders can see your progress with your healing plan.

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