The Gladue Rights Research Database provides lawyers, researchers and others with instant access to the insights and conclusions of more than 500 academic works related to the history of settler colonialism in Saskatchewan. It also includes a large and growing body of oral history resources and key archival documents.
The database, which was officially launched last May and was supported by the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan, is the product of a partnership between Legal Aid Saskatchewan, the Community-Engaged History Collaboratorium (U of S Department of History) and the U of S Humanities and Fine Arts Digital Research Centre. While originally offered on a subscription basis, open access to the database has been made possible through the generosity of the Law Society of Saskatchewan, Legal Aid Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections and Policing, and the Community-engaged History Collaboratorium, Department of History, at the University of Saskatchewan.
Gladue reports are pre-sentencing or bail hearing reports stemming from a landmark 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision, based on a section of the Criminal Code, advising lower courts to consider Indigenous offenders’ backgrounds during sentencing. The reports can contain recommendations to a court on an appropriate sentence and provide details about the impacts of settler colonialism on an Indigenous person’s background, such as residential school history, physical or sexual abuse, interactions with the child welfare system, addictions and other health issues.
The database will contribute to the goals articulated by Canada’s Supreme Court, including reducing the number of Indigenous people sentenced to serve time in correctional facilities. It will accomplish this in several ways, such as by making Gladue reports—which can cost between $6,000 and $8,000 each in British Columbia—easier to prepare and less expensive for Indigenous people and their legal counsel in Saskatchewan.
The database is a robust and growing resource that has been built by Indigenous and non-Indigenous students at the U of S, working under faculty mentorship. It builds capacity within the justice system toward meeting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action regarding education about the history of colonialism as it relates to Indigenous people in Canada.
The database is the first of its kind in Canada and other jurisdictions may replicate this innovative tool in the future. The stakeholders involved in the development and continued maintenance of the database are proud to support such a worthwhile and beneficial project.