menu icon

Common Questions

What does the judge consider in sentencing an Indigenous person?

Last reviewed in June 2022 by the Clicklaw Editors

Anybody who thinks of themselves (self-identifies) as Indigenous has what are called Gladue rights. These rights mean that when making sentencing decisions about an Indigenous person, a judge must consider the adverse or harmful social conditions that many Indigenous people face. This consideration may, in some cases, lead to a restorative justice remedy (a type of sentencing that tries to follow an Indigenous view of justice: the focus is on responsibility and healing instead of punishment). An example of this is circle sentencing, when the sentencing judge and appropriate community members meet outside the courtroom to discuss an appropriate sentence for the accused.

BC's First Nations Courts are Gladue courts. 

Good starting points include:

  • Your Rights: Gladue Rights, from the Legal Aid BC, gives an overview of Gladue rights and links to more fact sheets on preparing a Gladue report and what these rights mean for Indigenous people who have a bail hearing or are being sentenced for a crime.
  • Legal Information for Indigenous People, from the Bella Colla Legal Advocacy Program, has a section on Justice Systems that covers ciruit courts, legal supports, legal aid elligibility, what to do if you are charged with a crminal offence, restorative justice, Gladue Reports, Indigenous Court, and youth criminal justice.

Need more help?

  • First Nations/Indigenous Courts Duty Counsel, from Legal Aid BC, can help you apply to First Nations Court, and help you find a lawyer and someone to write your Gladue report.
  • Native Courtworkers, from NCCABC, assist Indigenous people involved in the criminal justice system to obtain fair, just, equitable and culturally sensitive treatment.
  • Indigenous Community Legal Clinic (ICLC), from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC, provides legal services to the Indigenous community in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, and throughout the Lower Mainland.
  • Indigenous Justice Centres provide culturally appropriate information, advice, support, and representation for Indigenous people. 
  • Find more help near you on Clicklaw HelpMap.

See our related common questions:

sentencing, Gladue, First Nations Court, criminal court, circle sentencing, restorative justice, Gladue report, Gladue rights, Aboriginal people