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Justice Studies Diploma: Aboriginal Focus

This Diploma program will provide learners a solid foundation in Canadian justice to help them get an exciting career, and make a difference in Aboriginal society. All Justice Studies students take the same set of courses in Year 1 (criminal justice, psychology, sociology, and criminology) and take courses specific to Aboriginal Justice in Year 2.

After graduation, you will be prepared to apply your knowledge and skills in an engaging environment where every day presents exciting and unique challenges.

This exciting full-time two-year (four semester) career program begins every fall.

Potential Careers in Justice with an Aboriginal Focus

The overall purpose of the Justice Studies program with an Aboriginal Focus specialization is to prepare Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students for careers throughout Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal justice sectors. Employment opportunities are diverse, and spread throughout organizations and agencies including, but not limited to, correctional facilities, Aboriginal policing, RCMP, Aboriginal child and youth worker, addictions worker, and a healing lodge correctional officer.

Justice Studies Instructor Bios

Click here to find out more about our instructors.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Refer to the Program Tuition Fee Chart for an estimate of the cost of completing a Bow Valley College career program. Consider the costs of tuition, additional fees, textbooks, and police information check fees when creating a budget. Attend a Financial Aid Information Session for advice on financing a Bow Valley College education.

Note: All students registered in a Justice Studies Diploma program are required to write the Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) assessment in semester one of their program.

Courses in Program

Curriculum is subject to change.

Click on the course to view the course description.

Common Year 1 - Semester 1

COMM1101 - Interpersonal Relationships and Communication Skills (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners develop strategies necessary for effective and accurate communication in relationships with others, within a variety of contexts. They explore theories and concepts of interpersonal communication and reflect on their own values, beliefs, attitudes, and experiences. Emphasis is placed on self-awareness, cultural diversity in communication, and conflict management. In addition, it focuses on the development of personal strengths and self-awareness that contribute to the development of communication skills and positive relationships.

JUST1101 - Introduction to the Criminal Justice System (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course is an overview of Canada's Criminal Justice System. The structure and jurisdictions of the three levels of government involved are examined, together with the development, role and functions of the police as well as other agencies and practices: the courts, sentencing philosophies, correctional institutions, community corrections, and alternative sanctions. Also considered are discretion, decision points, and limitations of authority in the justice system.

JUST1401 - Health, Wellness and Fitness  (3 credits, 45 hours)

The design of the course lays the foundation for health, wellness, and fitness for the future occupations of Justice Studies learners. The first of two such courses, this course establishes personal fitness levels and then compares those levels of fitness with performance levels demanded of successful candidates in occupations in the field of justice. Consideration is also given to the analysis of fitness as it relates to personal safety and the design of fitness regimes in various environments.

SOCI1101 - Introduction to Sociology (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course introduces sociology of the family while developing a greater command of sociological imagination from various sociological perspectives. In addition, this course provides learners with a thorough grounding in both the theoretical and substantive issues in the sociological study of families. Issues dealt with include: how changes in the Canadian and global economies impact the definition of family; how the idea of family impacts the society's order; or whether common attitudes and beliefs about families can be proven empirically. As issues arise, learners explore demographic trends; examine how the challenges faced by families are social issues; and weigh common attitudes and stereotypes about families. Learners challenge the social practices, perceptions, and experiences related to families that are often taken for granted as "common sense", inevitable, or natural reality.

ENGL1201 - English: Composition  (3 credits, 45 hours)

ENGL1201: This first-year composition course provides students with a solid grounding in the processes that writers use to communicate clearly in the academic context. By reading and analyzing texts from a broad spectrum of purposes, cultures, historical periods, and disciplines, students develop strategies to communicate their own ideas and integrate them with those of others. Students learn to quote, paraphrase, and summarize the work of other authors, prepare documents according to APA format, and write research papers.

Plus One (1) of the following electives:

JUST1102 - Diversity and Criminal Justice in Canada (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course examines multiculturalism and its relationship to the criminal justice system in Canada.  Among the issues discussed are the recognition, acceptance, and affirmation of ethnic, racial and religious diversity within the framework of Canada's policy of multiculturalism.  Particular emphasis is placed on Aboriginal history and traditions.  Special attention is focused on the application of these issues to policing, corrections, and other aspects of the criminal justice system.  Learners will have the opportunity to develop the sensitivities and skills which will assist them in understanding and working with different cultures, and to be responsive to the needs and expectations of culturally diverse communities.

HMSV2501 - Social Policy (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course is designed to help learners become critically aware of the economic, social, and political environment within which they will eventually work. It will examine the process by which health, social policy, and justice policy, is developed in Canada and encourages reflection upon the ways social policy impacts our lives.


Common Year 1 - Semester 2

JUST1301 - Professional Report Writing and Presentations (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course focuses on report and memorandum writing. Learners will study business writing in the format of email writing and letter writing. Resume writing and job application writing will be examined in depth. Learners will also focus on narrative report writing, occurrence report writing, and notebook writing. Learners will examine how to create and facilitate a workshop. The structure of speech, the sentence, word usage, spelling, punctuation, and grammar will be explored in detail. There will be an emphasis on practice technical reports and practice technical writing.

SOCI1201 - Sociology of the Family (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Pre-requisite: SOCI 1101 - Introduction to Sociology
This course introduces sociology of the family while developing a greater command of sociological imagination from various sociological perspectives. In addition, this course provides learners with a thorough grounding in both the theoretical and substantive issues in the sociological study of families. Issues dealt with include: how changes in the Canadian and global economies impact the definition of family; how the idea of family impacts the society's order; or whether common attitudes and beliefs about families can be proven empirically. As issues arise, learners explore demographic trends; examine how the challenges faced by families are social issues; and weigh common attitudes and stereotypes about families. Learners challenge the social practices, perceptions, and experiences related to families that are often taken for granted as "common sense", inevitable, or natural reality.

PSYC1101 - Introduction to Psychology (3 credits, 45 hours)

This introductory course provides learners with a basic understanding and an overview of the field of psychology. Attention is given to major psychological perspectives and the fundamentals of scientific thinking, biological factors, cognitive processes, social and cultural influences, personality, psychological disorders, and human motivation. Learners will be encouraged to apply what they learn to their own lives and the world around them.

JUST1601 - Criminology (3 credits, 45 hours) [Online Only]

This course provides an introduction to the major historical and contemporary theoretical concepts of crime, criminals, and criminality. The course establishes the theoretical relationship between criminology and other sciences like psychology and sociology. In addition, the course also delves into the use of the physical sciences and explores the effects of their use in criminal matters. 

Plus One (1) of the following electives:

FASD1301 - Brain Function and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course introduces Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and its impact on those affected by prenatal alcohol exposure. Topics include terminology, assessment and diagnostic processes, as well as primary and secondary characteristics as they present across the lifespan. Learners explore the components and functions of the brain and the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure on attention, memory, cognition, language, sensory perception, social emotional behaviours and impulsivity. Prevention and education are also explored .

HMSV1501 - Introduction to Counselling (3 credit, 45 hours)

Learners address the theory behind motivational interviewing, narrative therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and solution focused techniques. The course includes entry level discussion on stress, trauma, grief, and loss.


Year 2 - Semester 3

PSYC2401 - Abnormal Psychology (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners examine the major psychological disorders, focusing on clinical description, causal factors (considering the interaction of biological, psychological, and social influences), treatment, and outcomes. Learners develop a working definition of abnormal behavior using the DSM-5 criteria as a basis for classification.

HMSV1102 - Aboriginal History, Identity and Culture (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course will increase learners' awareness of, understanding of, and respect for, the rich, dynamic nature and the diversity in cultures and cultural practices among First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations within Canada.

JUST2205 - The History of the Canadian Justice System and Aboriginals (3 credits, 45 hours)

The focus in this course is on the Canadian legal system and its relationship to current Aboriginal populations. This course examines the intergenerational effects of the residential schools and how colonization impacts Aboriginal peoples today. Learners will also analyze the intention behind governmental treaties as well as the effect of legislation like Bill C31 (Indian Act) and the effects of national publications like the Royal Commission Report on Aboriginal Peoples or the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

JUST2608 - Traditional Aboriginal Justice (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course explores the fundamental principles that inform traditional native North American justice systems and how those principles compare to values underpinning the traditional Canadian justice system. As the similarities and differences between the two systems are established, focus shifts to the evolution of both the Aboriginal and Canadian systems. With the backdrop of system evolution, learners will consider the diverse challenges faced by Aboriginal Justice workers in the application of traditional processes within Aboriginal Justice.

Plus One (1) of the following electives:

JUST2601 - Drug Awareness and Consequences (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course provides learners the opportunity to examine how drugs influence behaviours and actions, as well as the current trends of drug use in society. This course provides learners with awareness of drugs and the signs of drugs use. Learners will explore the national and international issues related to drug use and the Criminal Justice System.

ADDC1101 - Introduction to Addictions Studies (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course will increase students' awareness and understanding of the theories, practical skills, and broader issues that guide the work of addictions workers. Learners will be invited to reflect on their beliefs and values to develop a professional practice that draws on and respects the richness and depth of Canada's multicultural society. Participants will begin to explore various types of addictions and their impact on the addiction field. The course will demonstrate the breadth and diversity of addictions treatment theory, and how this is expressed in practice in the current world of addiction treatment.

JUST2301 - Influences of the Media on Justice (3 credit, 45 hours)

This course examines various media and the coverage provided to crime and criminality. Students will review the correlation between media coverage, public opinion, and the justice system. The suggestion that the community has a market-driven appetite for coverage of new stories about crime will be explored in detail.


Year 2 - Semester 4

HMSV2301 - Healthy Lifestyles via the Medicine Wheel (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course involves the exploration of the concepts of living a balanced life according the Medicine Wheel in the areas of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. By incorporating wellness activities the learners will learn how to support clients on their journey of healing.

JUST2303 - Aboriginal Intervention Techniques, Networks and Resources (3 Credits, 45 hours)

This course prepares learners to adapt to unique cultural sensitivities regarding the teachings of Elders, sacred objects, and traditions. Learners will apply the principles of intercultural competence and ceremony to work through judicial challenges. In addition, the course explores community networks and potential resources available to the Aboriginal Justice worker in addressing issues such as conflict resolution. During the course, learners will visit various First Nations reserves to investigate alternate dispute resolution strategies and assess the impact cultural values on the graduate workplace.

JUST2609 - Current Trends & Issues Impacting Aboriginal Justice (3 Credits, 45 hours)

This course will delve into the trends and issues facing learners as they transition from learner roles to the graduate roles. A strong emphasis will be placed on professional roles and responsibilities in general, and in particular, preparing graduates for lifelong learning in the Aboriginal Justice environment. Learners will gain knowledge of leadership skills, change, and conflict management that will apply to their potential future workplace. Legal, ethical, and management concepts will be integrated into the course, with the expectation that learners apply these principles to prepare for and participate in the workforce.

JUST2202 - Criminal Law in Canada (3 Credits, 45 hours)

This course examines the evolution of criminal law and the structure of the Criminal Code. An examination of basic constitutional law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Emphasis is placed on gaining a great deal of familiarity with the Criminal Code as statute law and applicability criminal procedural requirements. Focus is placed upon those parts of the criminal code that graduates will typically encounter during their initial tenure in the workplace.

Plus One (1) of the following electives:

JUST2602 - Aboriginal and Visible Minority Issues within the Criminal Justice System (3 credits, 45 hours)

Aboriginal people experience disproportionately increased rates of victimization and criminal activity. This course examines culturally sensitive approaches to unique Aboriginal needs. Learners analyse pertinent Aboriginal values within the criminal justice system. Additionally, learners examine the relevance of diversion, community justice committees, healing lodges, and sentencing circles. Learners also examine characteristics of violent crimes involving visible minorities. This course focuses on visible minorities' perceptions of safety and of the criminal justice system; racism and the police; racism and the courts; racism and the correctional system; gender and race; and, visible minority youth.

ADDC1301 - Physiology and Processes of Addictions (3 Credits, 45 hours)

This course takes an in-depth look at substances and their impact on body, mind, and behaviour. Learners begin with an introduction to how the relevant body systems work, and then address substances by category and by individual drug to understand their history, appeal, risks, and impact. Emphasis is given to processes of dependence and withdrawal. With knowledge of addiction physiology, support workers have insight into the mechanisms of craving, and are able to promote more effective physical and mental recovery.

JUST2401 - Mental Health and Wellness (3 Credits, 45 Hours)

Building on the analysis of personal fitness, this course emphasizes issues of health and wellness. Leaners will undertake an evaluation of personal life choices including nutrition, activity, and attitude. Considerations of personal health and wellness are included in the design of future learning in support of life/work balance.

Admission Requirements

Academic Requirements

  • High School Diploma with credit in English 30-1 or 65% in English 30-2 or equivalent
  • Successful completion of the General Educational Development test with a standard score of 520 in Language Arts: Reading and Writing


  • Satisfactory results on the BVC Admissions Test


English Language Proficiency Requirements

Note: Future career and volunteer opportunities within justice will be negatively impacted for individuals who have any criminal convictions for which they have not yet received pardon or record suspension, or have any criminal charges that remain pending or awaiting disposition from the courts. It is unlikely that Justice Studies graduates who have a criminal history will have any advantage when competing for employment. Applicants with further questions are advised to contact the Justice Studies Programs Coordinator.

***IMPORTANT NOTE*** During the program, students will be visiting various facilities (such as correctional facilities). It is important to note that student attendance and participation during these visits are considered when determining overall grades. Some of these agencies and organizations will deny access to anyone who has either been criminally charged, or, has a criminal record


Graduates of this program may be granted credits towards block transfer to: