This decision included an overview of relevant case law applicable to Aboriginal sentencing principles. Ultimately the Court determined that the offender should be placed on probation for twelve months for the offence of assault.

The offender in this case had very little connection to his Aboriginal heritage. Although defence counsel indicated the offender’s Aboriginal status, no Gladue report was requested or provided. It also was not suggested that Aboriginal heritage was a mitigating factor in determining an appropriate sentence.

Gorman P.C.J. did not agree with a recent statement from the Alberta Court of Appeal in R. v. Mattson, 2014 ABCA 178 that a Gladue report must be tendered in all sentencing hearings involving Aboriginal offenders. He stated that such an approach was “unrealistic and ignores the significant individualized differences which exist amongst Aboriginal offenders”.

An offender’s Aboriginal status is a factor which a sentencing judge must consider: R. v. Ipeelee. Gorman P.C.J., however, noted that in some cases Aboriginal status can solely provide background information, where there is no suggestion that Aboriginal status was indicative of systemic background factors that might bear on culpability. Furthermore, while Ipeelee confirms that Aboriginal heritage must be considered, its weight will vary from case to case. Gorman P.C.J. acknowledged his requirement to consider the offender’s Aboriginal status, but declined taking judicial notice of the broad and systemic factors affecting Aboriginal people because these factors were not applicable to this particular offender.

Other Author

Alexander C. Bjornson


Aboriginal Law