R c Esau, 2020 QCCQ 5044

The Court issued a suspended sentence and a three-year probation order for a 54-year-old Cree woman found guilty of trafficking in cocaine and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. The Court took judicial notice of the increasingly disproportionate numbers of Indigenous women in Canadian prisons. It found the circumstances of Ms. Esau’s life to be harrowing, including recurring experiences of domestic violence, forced marriage to a sexually, physically, and psychologically abusive husband in her Pentecostal community, and periods of homelessness. The Gladue report and the Pre-Sentence Report highlighted the need for participation in treatment and healing programs. 

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Marion Esau, a 54-year-old Indigenous woman from the Cree First Nation, pleaded guilty to charges of having trafficked in cocaine and having had cocaine in her possession for the purpose of trafficking. A Pre-Sentence Report and Gladue report were prepared. Ms. Esau was from a large family from the same biological parents. The family had problems with alcohol, and violence was common in the home. Suicide was rampant, indeed one of her brothers committed suicide at the age of 14. Furthermore, the family followed a traditional lifestyle, placing little emphasis on schooling. Her father and several members of her family attended Indian residential schools.

Because her parents are Pentecostal, Ms. Esau was forced into marriage at the age of 16. Her mother was the one who chose her husband, an uneducated man who lived primarily in the woods. During her marriage, she had four children, and was subject to extreme domestic violence. Isolated, friendless, and unable to see even her parents, she considered suicide. When she left her husband, she also had to leave her children behind. She went to social services for help, but did not receive any. After leaving her husband, she became involved with another man but also experienced severe violence in that relationship. Her current spousal relationship is not violent, but they were homeless.

Ms. Esau has a criminal record going back to 1999, when she was 34 years old. Her prior offences are related primarily with her periods of homelessness and substance abuse. The offences were mostly assault, threats, and theft, and they resulted in occasionally supervised probationary sentences, community work, and fines. She accepts full responsibility for her actions and has shown a good capacity for introspection and an acceptable degree of empathy, both for her community and individually. In the probation officer’s opinion, Ms. Esau must take part in various treatment and programs to heal the wounds caused by her past life. The author of the Gladue report emphasized that Ms. Esau is worried about her husband and daughter if she is sent to prison. Her daughter sometimes gives her some respite by helping her take care of her son, who is epileptic and an alcoholic.

The Court notes that Ms. Esau, as an Indigenous woman, had been victim of violence as it has been discussed in The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Without setting aside the other principles of sentencing, the Court notes the importance of the principle in section 718.2(e) Criminal Code. In cases involving Indigenous offenders, consideration should be given to all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances and consistent with the harm done to victims or to the community. The Court finds that a suspended sentence of 36 months with restorative justice measures to be an appropriate sentence.

R v Wentzell, 2020 NSPC 20

The Court sentenced an Indigenous offender who stabbed her significant other, to a global sentence of a suspended sentence with a period of probation for three years with conditions. This sentence provides the best mechanism for assuring that the offender continues on her path towards a pro-social lifestyle. Society’s protection is best assured by the continued supervision and encouragement of the offender’s efforts and progress in her rehabilitation.

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Ms. Jennifer Wentzell is a 38-year-old woman of Mi’kmaq ancestry and a member of the Gold River First Nation. One night, when intoxicated, she uttered a threat to kill and then subsequently stabbed her significant other. The use of a knife and a resulting penetrative wound to the victim coupled with Ms. Wentzell’s prior criminal record must have a sentenced imposed that is proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of Ms. Wentzell.

A Gladue Report was prepared in 2019, and a sentencing circle was held in the Gold River community in 2020. At the sentencing circle, two videos were viewed regarding the events that led up to the altercation, including Ms. Wentzell being told her body was gross and some physical altercations between the couple. The victim in this matter declined to provide a Victim Impact Statement or participate in the sentencing circle.

Ms. Wentzell’s life has been marred with instability, poverty, homelessness, and a lack of education and employment opportunities. She has experienced domestic violence, sexual abuse, and the involvement of the child welfare system. She has suffered from addictions to alcohol and drugs, along with intergenerational trauma as result of the legacy of the residential school system, discrimination and colonization. She has three children from two long term relationships.

Ms. Wentzell has been attending programming at Holly House, which is run by the Elizabeth Fry Society. Ms. Wentzell has been engaging in individual addictions counselling. She has attended the Rising Sun Treatment Rehabilitation Centre on two occasions and has plans to attend again for the relapse prevention program. She has attempted to reduce her consumption of alcohol. Her plan going forward is to continue with counselling for addictions and healthy relationships. She also will be attending sweats on a regular basis and is working towards long term sober living. She would like to continue her education by attending the Nova Scotia Community College in a trades program and find part time employment.

Ms. Wentzell was involved in a volatile and abusive spousal relationship. The victim’s prior treatment, assaultive and degrading behaviour towards Ms. Wentzell along with her intoxication and impulsive reaction to the events must be taken into consideration. These events in addition, to Ms. Wentzell’s prior history of trauma and experiences of an Indigenous person, reduce her moral culpability in these offences.

The long-term protection of the community requires that Ms. Wentzell’s efforts be acknowledged and that she be allowed to continue on that path without interruption. It is hopeful that she will be able to show the community, by her example, that there is life beyond addiction and involvement in the Criminal Justice System. A suspended sentence with a significant period of probation was the reasonable alternative to incarceration in this case and is of significant consequence to Ms. Wentzell.

R v Brown, 2020 BCPC 137

The Court found the sentences in their aggregate to be unduly harsh and disproportionate. The sentences were adjusted to arrive at an appropriate global sentence that considered circumstances such as the defendant’s Indigenous heritage, hope of rehabilitation and his relatively young age.

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Mr. Brown, the defendant, is a 26-year old man who discharged a firearm in the hallways of a lodging house. He then went to a nearby house and struck a resident with the firearm. At the time of the incident, Mr. Brown was bound by a 10-year weapons prohibition, which prohibited him from possessing firearms. This prohibition was imposed after he had been sentenced for a drug offence three years prior. Mr. Brown pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm, unlawful possession of a restricted firearm, assault with a weapon and breach of a prohibition order. The Crown urged the Court to impose a global sentence of six and a half years, while counsel for Mr. Brown urged for a global sentence of five years.

The Court had the benefit of reading a Gladue report that was previously prepared for Mr. Brown for his earlier drug conviction. Findings in the report noted that many of the systemic background facts that impact Indigenous peoples in Canada have also impacted Mr. Brown, including substance abuse, criminal history, family breakdown, and racism. While the Court was able to recognize how these factors have contributed to Mr. Brown’s offences, these factors did not equate to an automatic reduction in sentence (R v Gladue, [1999] 1 SCR 688).

The case law clearly establishes that the risk posed by firearms demands a sentence that denounces and deters (R v Oud, 2016 BCCA 332; R v Guha, 2012 BCCA 423). The Court found that a fit sentence in this case must adequately meet the objectives of denunciation and deterrence, however, it must not lose sight of the importance of rehabilitation. Mr. Brown’s relatively young age and accessibility to Indigenous centered programs both within his community and through correctional institutions were taken into consideration. The Court found the sentences in their aggregate to be disproportionate and destructive to any hope of rehabilitation. As a result, the sentences were adjusted, and Mr. Brown received a sentence of 5 years 9 months.

R v GH, 2020 NUCJ 21

The Chief Justice of the Nunavut Court of Justice dismissed an application for a state-funded Gladue report. The Court cautioned that a Gladue report writer from outside the territory may not be adequately familiar with Nunavut’s unique circumstances and resources, and Inuit court workers can provide much of the necessary information, as can the predominately Inuit probation officers working in Nunavut. The Court left it to the Government of Nunavut to determine whether a program for full Gladue reports ought to be created. 

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The Applicant requests that the Court order the production of a Gladue report. He suggests that formal Gladue reports are necessary if this Court is to apply the remedial provisions of section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code in the manner and spirit directed by the Supreme Court of Canada (R v Gladue, [1999] 2 CNLR 252 [“Gladue”]; R v Ipeelee, [2012] 2 CNLR 218).

In Canada, judges are required to consider the circumstances of Indigenous offenders who are before them to be sentenced. Indigenous offenders have the right (unless it is expressly waived) to the presentation of Gladue information and application of Gladue principles at their sentencing hearing. However, they do not have the right to the production of a publicly funded Gladue report in advance of sentencing.

In many jurisdictions across Canada there are Gladue programs in which independent and knowledgeable writers interview offenders and other community members, producing Gladue reports that educate sentencing judges. Nunavut is not one of those jurisdictions. To date, the Government of Nunavut has not implemented a program to connect Indigenous offenders with knowledgeable Gladue writers. Nothing formally prevents an offender in Nunavut from funding the production of a Gladue report privately, but this almost never occurs due to the associated cost.

Because Nunavut lacks a publicly funded Gladue writing program, Gladue information about Indigenous offenders in Nunavut usually comes before the court via Defence submissions, pre-sentence reports, and occasionally comments directly from offenders. Counsel for the Applicant argues that these sources of information are insufficient and that a Gladue writer would provide a qualitatively superior overview of the systemic factors that have played a role in bringing the offender before the court. Gladue writers are typically either members of the Indigenous communities in which they serve or they have strong social and professional connections to those communities. Because there is no Gladue writing program in Nunavut, there are no Gladue writers here with those same community connections that are so key for southern Gladue writers. Pre-sentence reports, however, are prepared by probation officers, many of them Inuit living in communities in which they serve.

Non-Inuit legal professionals in Nunavut are not without access to knowledgeable cultural and community resources. The Court will leave this discussion to more knowledgeable players within the Legal Services Board of Nunavut and the Government of Nunavut. The Court cautions against the assumption that a Gladue writer experienced in serving First Nations and Métis communities will easily translate those skills to an Inuit context. A pan-Indigenous approach to government programming is ineffective and does not meet the specific needs of Inuit. Recommendation 16.28 of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report, notes that this failure to provide Inuit-specific services cripples Gladue principles.

When the Government of Nunavut implements a Gladue report writing program employing empathetic peers based in Nunavut communities as writers, the Court will be pleased to trust those report writers to fully enlighten the court. The colonial court system in Nunavut can only benefit from further and better cultural and historic information about the individuals who appear before it and will continue to rely on the expertise of Indigenous Court Workers, Inuit elders, resident counsel, and resident probation officers.

R v McCargar, 2020 ONSC 5464

The Court sentenced an Indigenous woman to a conditional sentence of 24 months followed by a 12 month period of probation for robbery, with conditions including culturally based programmes described in her Gladue report. While her co-accused was sentenced to 10.5 months in prison, the offender’s rehabilitation path, less concerning criminal record, and Gladue factors distinguished her circumstances. 

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The offender, Ms. McCargar, was found guilty after a trial on one count of robbery. She participated in a robbery of fentanyl patches from a 67-year old victim that had been prescribed this medication for pain. The victim was living alone in a rural area when Ms. McCargar and another offender came to the house in order to rob him.

Ms. McCargar is the mother of 4 children and a grandmother. She currently works full-time hours at a funeral home and volunteers 15 hours per week at a senior’s centre. The offender comes from a disadvantaged background. Her father was alcoholic and abusive who subjected his family to significant trauma. Ms. McCargar also suffered significant abuse and has endured a number of additional traumas as an adult. She has managed to rehabilitate herself from drug addiction and no longer uses alcohol. Currently Ms. McCargar is not in a relationship and lives with two of her children, including one that requires a great deal of assistance.

Ms. McCargar is Metis and did not have the benefit of growing up in her culture, but because of the colour of her skin, she has faced racism. For some time, the offender has been seeking the knowledge, insight and support her culture can bring. She has maintained contact with the Mohawk community in Tyendinaga. Her father taught her to hunt, trap and fish, and she has maintained these practices. Ms. McCargar has a criminal record which involves a number of property offences and includes convictions for assault. The Gladue report and PSR suggest, however, that some of these convictions occurred in the context of domestic relationships where the offender was physically abused by her partner.

According to this Court, the protection of the public is achieved with a conditional sentence, which is best suited to permit the offender to maintain the significant progress she has made towards her rehabilitation and strengthen her supports within her cultural community. Since the offences, Ms. McCargar has led a productive life. Most critically, there is a duty to give meaningful effect to the Gladue principles in this case, and the considerable evidence of the impacts of those factors on the offender. It is appropriate in this case to apply restraint in sentencing to reflect the circumstances that led to this offence and which reduce her moral blameworthiness.

Despite that her co-accused received a sentence of 10.5 months, there are important differences between the offenders in this case. Since Ms. McCargar’s sentence will be served as a conditional sentence with terms of house arrest, the range of sentence is appropriately higher than if a jail sentence were imposed (R v Sharma, 2020 ONCA 478). This means that if the offender is not compliant with the terms of the conditional sentence, she might serve an even longer period of time in jail should she breach the terms of the conditional sentence order. This serves to reinforce the principles of denunciation and deterrence.

Ultimately, in order to give effect to all of the principles of sentencing in this case, the term of the conditional sentence is fixed at 24 months. The first 12 months will be under house arrest, with exceptions for employment and certain other circumstances. During the conditional sentence, Ms. McCargar shall attend for all treatment and counselling that might be deemed appropriate for her by her supervisor, including those programmes described in the Gladue report. This will be followed by a period of probation for 12 months during which time Ms. McCargar is to continue with the culturally based programmes outlined in the Gladue report.

R v Kapolak, 2020 NWTTC 12

The NWT Territorial Court found a provision for sexual assault against a minor under the Criminal Code to breach s 12 of the Charter and therefore declined to apply it and ordered a conditional sentence for an Inuk offender with FASD.

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This decision bears in mind the cognitive challenges associated with FASD with the Indigenous accused. It had to balance between the protection of Indigenous victims and the need to implement the Gladue principles for Indigenous offenders. Like provincial courts, the territorial court cannot strike down any provisions but it may become a persuasive precedent for other courts in the territories and elsewhere.

This case involved a single incident, and the victim suffered no apparent injury. This was a bold act, committed on a residential street, in the daytime, as opposed to a surreptitious act committed behind closed doors, on a sleeping victim, or in a context where the victim is physically isolated and cannot get away from the perpetrator. The victim initially did not feel threatened by the accused, because she was familiar with him, and likely because of his diminutive size and almost child-like appearance. But the accused then touched the victim’s body many times and in many places, and he failed to disengage when prompted verbally by her. She had to resort to physical violence to make him stop. This was a crime of opportunity, committed on impulse. The victim was in foster care at the time of the incident. She did not file a Victim Impact Statement, but it is inferred that she is from Inuit ancestry from her name.

Because the mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for six months applies to all offenders having committed any form of sexual assault on a victim aged anywhere between 1 day and 16 years, it is vulnerable to Charter scrutiny. Imposing a sentence of six months in jail on this accused who is a first offender when there are many mitigating factors and when the circumstances of the offence, while being serious, are not too egregious, is fundamentally unfair and as a result, disproportionate. As a result, the accused’s right to be protected against cruel and unusual treatment or punishment is infringed by the mandatory minimum punishment found at section 271(b) of the Criminal Code. The provision is not saved by section 1 of the Charter, and accordingly the mandatory minimum punishment is declined.

The presence of an intellectual disability that affects the accused’s cognitive functions makes it difficult to assess the risk to reoffend. Although present, and in light of other circumstances, the risk is not viewed as high, or determinative. However, the offence of sexual assault is prevalent in Northern communities, 5.3 times the national ratio in 2017. The accused’s early guilty plea is highly mitigating, as it spared the victim from having to testify in court.

The personal circumstances of the accused, which include the diagnosis of Alcohol-Related Neuro-Developmental Disorder, suggest a reduced moral blameworthiness. For a first offender, sentencing usually focuses on rehabilitation. There is nothing to say that a community-based sentence would not work for this accused. The risk to reoffend that this accused presents because of the impulsivity associated with his condition, as well as his intellectual limitation, is compensated by the fact that he benefits from family support. He has a home in which supervision may occur, and he has shown that he is able to comply with conditions.

For an offender with challenges to his executive functions, repetition of instructions, structure, and professional follow-up, appear to be key. A carefully crafted conditional sentence order can bring the necessary restrictions to a person’s freedom while providing rehabilitative tools, and thus achieve deterrence.

The Supreme Court of Canada determined that the standard for finding that a sentence represents a cruel and unusual punishment is that it be grossly disproportionate. An option to preserve the constitutionality of offences that cast a wide net is to provide for residual judicial discretion to impose a fit and constitutional sentence in exceptional cases (R v Lloyd, 2016 1 RCS 13).

In this case, the offender presents with cognitive challenges, and is sentenced more than one year after the commission of the offence. The immediate link between consequence and cause may be lost and as a result a sentence of imprisonment may not achieve the necessary deterrence. Reducing the over-incarceration of Aboriginal offenders is as important an objective as that of protecting vulnerable victims, and must be given equal consideration. The accused is to serve a conditional sentence of imprisonment of 120 days, to be followed by a period of probation of 18 months.

R v Colligan, 2020 BCSC 1139

Rehabilitation can be critically important even for an offence where denunciation and deterrence warrant the most weight. Despite some aggravating circumstances, the Court decided that a conditional sentence was appropriate after considering Gladue factors.

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Mr. Colligan was charged with three counts of trafficking cocaine but did not appear in court for his trial. A warrant was issued and executed for his arrest. He entered guilty pleas and was then released on bail, by consent. Currently, Mr. Colligan has completely turned his life around. That is commendable but the fact that he did so while on the lam presents a challenge at the sentencing stage. As well, the illicit sale of cocaine, particularly by way of dial-a-dope operations, takes a terrible toll on individuals and the community.

This Court has the benefit of a detailed and thoughtfully prepared Gladue report. Mr. Colligan self-identifies as Métis. His childhood was marred by trauma and instability. His mother was apprehended for neglect, and became involved with his father when she was a teenager. Mr. Colligan’s father was a drug-addicted member of the Hell’s Angels. He was emotionally, physically and sexually abusive to his mother. Mr. Colligan’s mother became an alcoholic. Mr. Colligan witnessed his father’s abuse of his mother, which culminated in a horrifying attack when he was five years old. He jumped on his father during the attack and ended up being covered in his mother’s blood. His father was charged with attempted murder and fled.

Following her separation from a second partner, Mr. Colligan’s mother reached out to social services for help, hoping it would be temporary. Mr. Colligan was removed from his mother’s care and placed in a series of private foster homes and group homes until he aged out of foster care. Mr. Colligan grew up feeling abandoned by his mother. He himself has had children from different partners, whom he does not have a relationship with.

While on the lam, Mr. Colligan had accumulated an unenviable criminal record consisting of seven youth and 15 adult convictions. However, he broke away from all negative associations when he developed a healthy relationship with his current partner, who now have two young children. Mr. Colligan began attending NA and AA meetings. He found employment in the oil industry and has been steadily employed since that time. As of the date of the sentencing hearing, he was working as a well site supervisor with a production testing company and had an annual income of $180,000. He is the sole income earner for his family. He works in a drug-free environment and is subject to mandatory drug testing. After some initial set-backs, with the support of his family, NA, AA and some counselling funded by his employee assistance program, Mr. Colligan has been clean and sober for a number of years.Mr. Colligan’s self-reports of his changed lifestyle are supported by a number of letters of support from his partner, friends and co-workers.

Mr. Colligan is disconnected from his Métis heritage. That was the goal of Canada’s historic assimilationist policies. Looking forward, Mr. Colligan hopes to connect with his Métis heritage. He has applied for a Métis citizenship card. He hopes that understanding more about his heritage and culture will help him to build his self-esteem, re-instate his value system and continue to lead a pro-social life.

In this case there are a number of aggravating factors. Mr. Colligan has a significant prior record, including convictions for possession for the purpose of trafficking. Mr. Colligan committed the offences at issue shortly after completing his 14-month custodial sentence for his prior trafficking convictions. He was a principal participant in an active and ongoing dial-a-dope operation, that demonstrates a level of sophistication in the operation. As well, Mr. Colligan evaded justice for almost six years.

The case law clearly establishes that denunciation and deterrence are the primary sentencing principles in a case such as this. A fit sentence must recognize the particularly harmful effects of trafficking cocaine by way of dial-a-dope operations and discourage flight from justice. At the same time, the Court must not lose sight of the importance of rehabilitation in providing for the long-term protection of the community. Canada’s assimilation policies have had a profoundly negative effect on Mr. Colligan and his family. As a result, Mr. Colligan developed a drug addiction that led directly to his past criminal lifestyle. He has overcome many hurdles and barriers to completely turn his life around and is now taking responsibility for his actions.

While Mr. Colligan must be punished for his offences and not rewarded for absconding, he is in the process of breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma and dysfunction that has so negatively affected so many Indigenous families, including his own. Sending Mr. Colligan to jail would leave his children without their father for a significant period of time and vulnerable to poverty and dislocation. A highly restrictive conditional sentence is ordered of two years less one day and will adequately address denunciation and deterrence, particularly in view of Mr. Colligan’s reduced level of moral blameworthiness.

R v McKay, 2020 MBQB 106

The Gladue analysis in this sentencing decision included attention to both the systemic and background factors of the Indigenous offender and his victim, which in this case were significant and central enough to make rehabilitation the key sentencing principle.

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Mr. McKay, a young Indigenous man from Berens River First Nation, a remote settlement 300 km by air north of Winnipeg, pled guilty to manslaughter. Upon returning home extremely intoxicated, he severely beat his mother who did not recover from her injuries and died months later. During the time she was comatose in a Winnipeg hospital, he was overheard at her bedside, sobbing and saying he was sorry. A stepbrother confronted him and Mr. McKay admitted he had hurt his mother. After her death, he was arrested a month later. He told police that he had hit her with a “glass thing”, and could not say why he attacked her.

This decision deals with setting a fit and appropriate sentence for Mr. McKay for this crime, in these circumstances. A Probation Services Pre-sentence Report [“PSR”] and an independent Gladue report was ordered, which in part connected Canada’s historical treatment of Indigenous peoples to Mr. McKay and the killing. It is well accepted that the Government’s role, since the early days of dealing with First Nations peoples, has had the effect of isolating, infantilizing, marginalizing, and traumatizing Indigenous societies like the Ojibwe (or Anishinaabe) of Berens River. These effects on Mr. McKay’s traditional community set the context for his life and experiences.

Mr. McKay’s upbringing was horrible. He has 12 brothers and sisters that were often raised in foster homes. Intermittently, he would be returned to the custody of his mother and father, but his relationship with his family was fractured. His parents struggled with alcohol and sniffing, which he ultimately started at age 13. He is not close to his brothers or sisters, some of whom have died. Family empathy and support is non-existent. Mr. McKay’s father died of alcohol abuse, and they were not close. Mr. McKay and his mother were very close, and supported and depended upon each other. He loved her and is deeply affected by having killed her.

Mr. McKay was formally diagnosed with partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (“pFAS”) at 24 months. He continues to suffer physical, cognitive and intellectual disabilities. Child and Family Services files indicate that Mr. McKay was neglected because of the family’s chronic alcohol addiction, solvent sniffing, domestic abuse and family violence. He would often be the target of teasing and beatings by his brothers, and even now has been threatened by some siblings, who say they would kill him if he returned to Berens River. For the most part, while Mr. McKay has been in custody since his arrest in October 2018, he has done well, including taking many programs. Importantly, he wants a good future but does not have a real idea or plan of how to get there.

A sentence imposed on an accused for a serious crime should be tailor-made in the sense that, mindful of principles of sentencing, it is appropriate to the circumstances of the offence and the particulars of the offender. The critical issue is to determine a sentence that would benefit and protect the community, as well as provide the best prospects of rehabilitation for Mr. McKay. Gladue factors loom large, which affect the assessment of moral culpability for this grievous offense. His moral blameworthiness is high, but not as high as it would otherwise have been but for Gladue factors, including his pFAS. In balancing all of the factors, rehabilitation must be an overarching concern. While denunciation and deterrence are important factors, they are moderated by the unusual circumstances here.

Mr. Kay is sentenced to 50 months of incarceration, from which 26 months’ time-in-custody credit shall be deducted for a go-forward custody sentence of 24 months less one day, as well as three years of supervised probation with conditions.

R v Grandinetti, 2020 ABQB 416

Experiences of racism is a Gladue factor, and there is relevance of credible employment opportunities for the Aboriginal accused that has informed the design of a fit and proper sentence in this matter.

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Mr. Grandinetti was closely involved in the process of creating fraudulent documentation which he used to effect registration of six stolen trailers in his own name in order to facilitate the transfer of the trailers to others, including at least one innocent purchaser. He also physically possessed each of the stolen travel trailers, and knew each was stolen. He was not charged with a “possession offence” in respect of two of the trailers. He trafficked two of the travel trailers he knew were stolen. As well, he possessed two of them for the purpose of trafficking them.

Mr. Grandinetti’s crimes are not accurately described as sophisticated or involving a high degree of planning, at least not on his part. He was not charged with the theft of any of the six travel trailers with which he was involved and the evidence presented did not suggest he was involved in any theft. The actual mechanism of the deception in which he participated was relatively simple. He did not invent or design it.

Even before the sentencing principle established by s 718.2(2)(e) of the Criminal Code and considering Gladue factors, the circumstances of Mr. Grandinetti’s offences do not require that priority be given to deterrence, denunciation and separation over the other purposes of sentencing, rehabilitation, reparation and promotion of a sense of responsibility.

Mr. Grandinetti is the child of an Italian father and a Cree mother. He has a younger brother and an older half brother. As a child Mr. Grandinetti witnessed his father being physically abusive to his mother. His parents divorced when he was 15. When Mr. Grandinetti was 17 years old and in high school, his mother was murdered by his cousin. Evidence at the murder trial indicated that the cousin had been paid by Mr. Grandinetti’s father to murder his mother. There was an ongoing child support arrears dispute between Mr. Grandinetti’s parents at the time.

The Gladue Report indicates that Mr. Grandinetti’s brothers reported that their grandmother attended residential school and that the experience caused her to be “a mean and angry person at times”. She struggled with alcohol. But Mr. Grandinetti’s younger brother credits the grandmother with keeping the family together.

Mr. Grandinetti’s father forbade him from participating in Cree cultural activities and tradition, and not even to reveal his Cree heritage to anyone. He learned to attach shame to that heritage. The Gladue report writer noted that Mr. Grandinetti has strong and positive support from his brother and his brother’s family. There are culturally relevant and mainstream healing resources available to him which he has never attempted to access, in part, due to the shame of his Cree heritage instilled in him by his father.

Mr. Grandinetti is sentenced to a global 18 months of that includes 4-6 months incarceration, with the rest to be served in the community pursuant to a conditional sentence order, followed by a three year probation order. Upon his employment, he is to pay restitution.


R c Charlish, 2020 QCCQ 2438

In keeping with the sentencing principles, including a focus on Gladue factors, the Aboriginal accused has been granted a last chance of a total sentence of 90 days to be served intermittently and supervised probation that includes an essential focus on therapy.

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The accused is an Aboriginal person who is a member of the Mashteuiatsh Innu Nation. Paragraph 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code provides that the court must take into consideration all available sanctions, other than imprisonment with particular attention to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders.

In 2018, the accused entered a guilty plea to a charge of trafficking cocaine. Presentence and Gladue reports (R v Gladue, [1999] 2 CNLR 252) were ordered. Despite the presence of aggravating factors, such as objective gravity and the scourge of drugs in the community, the court accepted the defence’s position and imposed an intermittent sentence of 60 days with two years’ probation, including 18 months with supervision, and 100 hours of community work.

The accused continued to use cannabis but reduced the quantity and for a time stayed away consumption. During submissions on sentencing in this matter, the Court granted the application of counsel to file the presentence and Gladue reports that were previously prepared because they remained relevant. The reports highlighted that since childhood, the accused has been exposed to instability, violence, and substance use. He is aware of the problem and has consulted an addiction counselor, but has not managed to remain abstinent. The accused has a spouse with substance abuse issues as well, with whom he lives with, along with their two young children in the Mashteuiatsh community.

The Court asked for information on the programs available in the community. There are no justice committees in Mashteuiatsh. The Court refers to the work of the “Viens Commission”, a Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec that focus on listening, reconciliation and progress. The Viens Commission describes the roles and responsibilities of justice committees as varying with each community’s needs and priorities. In general, it can be said that their goal is to offer an alternative to or complement the structures of the existing justice system. They take care of a number of things, including diversion, sentencing recommendations, supervised probation, suspended sentences, conditional release, authorized leave, crime prevention and community support such as healing circles, offender reintegration and citizen mediation.

However, there are other resources available in Mashteuiatsh to all types of clients. There is a housing resource that is a community organization that some members of the Mashteuiatsh community attend. It helps those suffering from issues related to substance abuse or addiction. With respect to Aboriginal clients, there is the Centre Kapatakan Gilles-Jourdain in Mani-Utenam, near Sept-Îles. It is an organization accredited by the Ministère de la Sécurité publique whose mission is to provide services adapted to Aboriginal values and traditions to Innu adults and other First Nations members, with the objective of healing and rehabilitation. There is also the Wapan rehabilitation centre in La Tuque. It provides treatment and follow-up services to First Nations adults. Mashteuiatsh social services can also provide support and direct a person to the appropriate resources, to the extent that they are willing and participate in the follow-up required.

In this case, the accused has been noted as open and cooperative. Before his relapse, he had made sincere efforts to change. The accused decided to testify and was transparent and described his drug addiction. He now realizes that he must get to the root of the problem and that long-term therapy is needed even if that causes him to be away from his family. He realizes that he is reproducing for his children the conditions that has led to his own substance use.

Cocaine trafficking is an objectively serious offence, for which the offender is liable to imprisonment for life. What is more, this case concerns a subsequent occurrence of the same offence for which the accused was convicted a few months earlier, along with a breach of probation. However, the Court cannot ignore the unique systemic and background factors that are mitigating in nature in that they have played a part in the Aboriginal offender’s conduct. The Supreme Court of Canada urges sentencing judges to address the sources of the problem rather than reproducing the “revolving door cycle in the courts” (R v Gladue; R v Ipeelee, [2012] 2 CNLR 218).

The accused is granted a last chance with a total sentence of 90 days to be served intermittently and supervised probation including the essential focus on therapy. To prioritize that initiative and taking into consideration the accused’s family obligations, the Court will not add community work.