Nearly $2 million to counter the prison overrepresentation of the Red River Métis

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Nearly $2 million to counter the prison overrepresentation of the Métis of the Red River

Major investments to address overrepresentation of Red River Métis in Manitoba justice system (archives).

The federal government is providing $1.6 million to the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) for programs to address the overrepresentation of Métis in prisons.

According to the Office of the Correctional Investigator in 2015, Métis make up 6.9% of the prison population. That same year, they represented only 1.7% of the Canadian population, according to Statistics Canada.

Funding, over a period of five years, is part of the Aboriginal Justice Program.

Nearly $1 million will be shared between the Métis Community Justice Program and the Thompson Community Justice Program.

An additional $500,000 will fund the program Métis Identity in the Justice System and the Red River Métis Justice Strategy. These programs aim to combat systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the Canadian justice system.

Finally, an envelope of $230,000 is allocated over three years to support the new program called Métis Mediation Services.

These investments aim to strengthen Métis families and the community. of the Red River and must allow justice measures to be culturally appropriate, according to a release announcing the funding.

MMF Minister of Justice Julyda Lagimodiere stresses the importance of integrating the values, traditions and culture of the Red River Métis in the actions to be taken.

Culturally appropriate programs and services for the Red River Métis can play a vital role in reducing the overrepresentation of members of our community in the justice system and in addressing systemic racism, he says -she in the release.

There is a whole circle of issues causing this increase in crime, we need programs that give us hope and opportunity, says Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand.

For his part, the federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti, specifies that these investments will support both new and old programs.

The Minister reiterates that these investments will support his government's efforts to address systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples and bring systemic change to address this unacceptable reality.

According to the criminologist, Jean-Claude Bernhein, “if we stick to global approaches, we cannot solve [the overrepresentation of Métis in the prison environment].”

Criminology expert and former professor at the Université de Saint-Boniface, Jean-Claude Bernheim explains that the announcement is interesting, but that we must also tackle the causes of the overrepresentation of the Métis in the prison system. “If you really want to have a real impact on crime, you necessarily have to look at the causes and most of them are economic, social and political causes,” the expert points out.

“As long as we settle for half measures, we don't really attack the causes or we don't want to.

— Jean-Claude Bernheim, criminology expert

According to Jean-Claude Bernheim, “you have to be able to have the resources to ensure that people who find themselves in unhealthy environments or in deplorable living conditions can have access to a decent life and the social resources available in the communities. »

It advocates an approach adapted to each community and the needs of each neighborhood. For him, the only major solution that would have a positive effect everywhere is to set up a guaranteed minimum income. “This experiment was carried out in Manitoba and the results were very positive in terms of quality of life, health, and school perseverance […]. »

With information from Jérémie Bergeron.

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