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Aboriginal self-identification
Aboriginal self-identification


What does it mean for an Aboriginal person to self-identify?

If you are an Aboriginal person entering the justice system, you should identify yourself as a First Nations, Métis, or Inuit person so duty counsel or your lawyer can follow the areas of law that deal with Aboriginal rights. In other words, you should tell duty counsel or your lawyer that you are an Aboriginal person.

You should self-identify whether you live on or off-reserve, if you are status or non-status, or if you live in a rural or an urban area.

Why is it important that you self-identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit?

The Criminal Code, Youth Criminal Justice Act and Child and Family Services Act all have parts that consider the special legal status of Aboriginal people in Canada.

If you self-identify as Aboriginal, your lawyer can make sure that Gladue factors and principles are applied to your legal case. Gladue refers to a right that all Aboriginal people have under the Criminal Code.

Telling your lawyer you are Aboriginal means that you can also be referred to Aboriginal Community Justice Programs or other Aboriginal service providers if they are available in your area, and if you are interested in these programs.

Information on your background allows your lawyer to assess whether the Indian Act affects your legal matter. For example, if you live on-reserve your rights to property you owned in marriage may be different than non-Aboriginal people in Ontario.

Download Legal Aid Ontario’s “Why is it important to tell your lawyer you are Aboriginal?” brochure for more information.

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