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Indigenous rights: Diversion

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What is Indigenous diversion?

Indigenous diversion is a voluntary way for some Indigenous people accused of a crime to resolve minor criminal charges. It is not available in every courthouse.

If you're offered diversion and agree to participate, you don't plead guilty to the charges against you, or have a trial. You don't have to accept the police or court version of events, but you must take some responsibility for the actions that led to your arrest.

Your case is moved out of court and dealt with by an Indigenous organization or community. You don't get a criminal conviction.

Diversion often means that you agree to do a certain number of hours of community service. You may also agree to counselling or job training. The community work is supposed to help you deal with the issues that brought you before the court.

Your diversion program should focus on personal accountability, community accountability, and healing instead of punishment. And, it is supposed to be meaningful to your Indigenous identity.

Indigenous diversion is for anyone who self-identifies as Indigenous, Metis, First Nations, Aboriginal, or Inuit. It doesn't matter if you live on or off reserve, or if you have a status card.

Get legal advice

Talk to your lawyer or duty counsel to see if diversion is right for you. You can also speak directly to the Indigenous court worker if glathere is one at your courthouse.