Those that are living with FASD can experience many challenges across their lifespan. Some of these challenges are a result of the disability itself (physical and cognitive) and others are a result of the ways in which the disability is framed and understood by others.These understandings have significant impacts on the lives of those who have FASD as well as their families and caregivers.
This section will highlight how research is being framed and applied to address the social justice disparities that can surround FASD. This work is informed by Dr. Stewart’s multi-year, multi-stage research project that includes results of a cross-Canada research trip and interviews with individuals living with FASD as well as families & workers discussing FASD across the lifespan. Data collection is ongoing and directly informed a National Symposium in 2017.
Final Report from FASD, Justice & Reconciliation: Tough Questions, New Collaborations will be released in June 2017.
FASD, Justice & Reconciliation: Tough Questions, New Collaborations
Regina SK – February 22-23, 2016
The symposium takes the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions’ (TRC) Calls to Action as an invitation to come together to think differently about FASD and Justice. While FASD is a global concern, the symposium will take a holistic look at how justice programs can include prevention and intervention with a focus on culturally-appropriate programs for Indigenous peoples. This will include discussions on how individuals and families can be best supported in the community and, when necessary, in the justice system (as victims, witness and offenders). The symposium will be an opportunity to come together and hear about specific programs that are being offered and the need for programs that are attentive to the broader contexts that impact Indigenous peoples who are living with FASD and have contact with the justice system. Although Indigenous voices and programs will be at the centre of the discussion, broader based justice programs that have solidly incorporated Indigenous perspectives will also be explored.
From smaller community-based projects to larger programs embedded in province-wide judicial initiatives, workshop speakers will discuss the innovative programs they are delivering. The goal is for participants to be exposed to programs from across Canada, to gain a broader understanding of the complexity of issues when discussing FASD in the justice system and to be introduced to new tools and networks from which to better undertake the collaborative work required to respond to the TRC Calls to Action.
The Symposium will be an exploration of how justice system programming supports people with FASD with a focus on the experiences of Indigenous individuals. This includes the experiences of individuals, families and communities in both the youth and adult systems. It is an opportunity for frontline workers, researchers and policy makers to learn about what is happening in jurisdictions across Canada, network, and collaborate on potential opportunities. The Symposium will be organized as a workshop with key presentations, roundtable discussions and working group sessions.
The TRC Calls to Action were released in 2015. Of the 94 Calls, two focused specifically on FASD and were located in the section on the justice sector. The Calls read as follows:
33 We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to recognize as a high priority the need to address and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and to develop, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, FASD preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.
34 We call upon the governments of Canada, the provinces, and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including:
i. Providing increased community resources and powers for courts to ensure that FASD is properly diagnosed, and that appropriate community supports are in place for those with FASD.
ii. Enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by FASD.
iii. Providing community, correctional, and parole resources to maximize the ability of people with FASD to live in the community.