Episode 14: Cultural Diversity and Bias in Risk Assessment

Indigenous Peoples – Mar 2021

This podcast is available on your favourite platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Subscribe, rate, and leave a comment! Please write us to info@ciaj-icaj.ca if you wish to receive an email when a new podcast is published.

Episode 14: Cultural Diversity: Bias in Risk Assessment
Broadcast Date: March 25, 2021


This podcast will discuss whether the current risk assessment tools are appropriate in assessing offenders from minority cultures and ethnicities. In Ewert v. Canada, 2018 SCC 30, the Court ruled that Correctional Service Canada’s (CSC) tools for assessing psychological risk were inadequate for Indigenous prisoners, which breached their statutory obligations but not their Charter rights. How has the use of psychiatry been critiqued in propagating cultural biases in diagnosis and treatment? In what ways must the CSC reassess its practices and policies?




The Honourable Gerald Morin was born and raised in Cumberland House, Saskatchewan and is a member of The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. He has worked and studied in the criminal justice field for over 45 years. Mr. Morin was appointed to the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan on January 24, 2001 and retired from the Court in 2019. He has developed and delivered The Cree Court. In 2007, Judge Morin was awarded The Willie Hodgson Award from the Law Society in regards to his work in Aboriginal Justice and Northern Issues. In 2008, he was appointed as Deputy Judge of the Territorial Court of the North West Territories. In 2016, he was appointed as a Deputy Judge for the Yukon Territorial Court. He has recently been selected in Univ of Sask alumni achievement awards for 2018.He has worked as a probation officer, social worker, defence lawyer and presently as a Saskatchewan Provincial Court Judge in the Cree Court. Mr. Morin received his early schooling at Charlebois School in Cumberland House. In 1969, At the age of 15 (Grade 10), he left home and completed his high school at the L.P. Miller High School in Nipawin as there was no high school in Cumberland House. He attained his social work program from Kelsey technical school in 1973 and started his career as a probation officer. Judge Morin attained his Certificate of School Work from the University of Regina in 1978 and Bachelor of Social Work in 1979. He has worked as a probation officer in northern Saskatchewan and a professor at the University of Manitoba, where he taught Community Development. Mr. Morin returned to the University of Saskatchewan and attained his Law Degree in 1987. He practiced law in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan at the Pandila-Morin Law office, and appeared in all levels of Court including the Supreme Court of Canada. Judge Morin received a Queen’s Counsel designation in 1999 – the first Aboriginal person to receive a Q.C. designation in the history of Saskatchewan.

The Honourable Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin is an Abenaki member of the Odanak band and the first Indigenous judge named to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa. She is originally from the Sudbury region. Prior to joining the Superior Court of Justice, she was General Counsel at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group and previously Counsel at the Canada Post Corporation.   Justice O’Bonsawin practiced in the areas of mental health, labour, employment, human rights and privacy law. She has also taught part-time at the University of Ottawa’s French Common Law program.  She is a frequent guest speaker on issues of mental health law, Gladue principles, labour and privacy law. She received her LL.M. (Health) at Osgoode Hall in 2014 and will complete her PhD at the University of Ottawa where she received her LL.B. from the French Common Law program.  Justice O’Bonsawin was awarded the Rising Star Award by Lexpert Magazine, recognizing her as one of Canada’s leading lawyers under 40. In May 2019, she was inducted into the University of Ottawa’s Common Law Honour Society.

Emily Hill is the Senior Staff Lawyer at Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS). ALS provides free legal assistance to low-income Indigenous people living in the City of Toronto. ALS is also involved in law reform, community organizing, public legal education, and test case litigation. Emily joined ALS in July 2011. Since then she has represented clients at administrative tribunals, inquests, the Ontario Court of Justice and Divisional Court. She has acted on behalf of ALS as an intervener at the Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. She also represents ALS in a number of working groups and research projects. Before that she completed her articles as a clerk of the Superior Court of Justice and worked as a staff lawyer at Yukon Legal Services Society (Legal Aid) for eight years, representing clients in the areas of criminal, family, child protection and mental health law. Emily is honoured to work with ALS towards the goal of Indigenous-controlled and culturally-based justice alternatives.

Note: This podcast is an excerpt from CIAJ’s 2018 annual conference, which focused on Justice and Mental Health. The upcoming annual conference, on Indigenous Peoples and the Law, will take place in Vancouver from November 17 to 19, 2021.

In All Fairness is a Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice podcast channel welcoming representatives from the legal community and exploring how we can all contribute to improving the administration of justice in Canada. Legal professionals will benefit from informed discussions on key issues, essential knowledge and insights to strengthen their practice.

Visit the upcoming programs section of our website or the online library, or contact us if you want to learn more on administrative law and expand your skills. Numerous programs are available, including a National Roundtable on Administrative law.

Questions and suggestions are always welcome. Please write to info@ciaj-icaj.ca