New centres improving access to justice for Indigenous peoples
Indigenous Canada flag, designed by Mulidzas-Curtis Wilson. (Supplied by the City of Campbell River)
The province has teamed up with the BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC) to improve access to supports for First Nation individuals to more easily navigate the justice system.
To do that, it is creating Indigenous justice centres throughout B.C.
While the centers will be located in Merritt, Prince George and Prince Rupert, the province says it’s working with the BCFNJC to determine locations for the other centres with the goal of having 15 throughout B.C over the coming years.
“For too long, Indigenous peoples have been over-represented in our criminal justice system,” said David Eby, Attorney General.
“Our Indigenous Justice Strategy, authored in partnership with Indigenous peoples, emphasizes the importance of these new centres as a first step along that path, offering culturally appropriate supports to ensure better outcomes for everyone.”
While each centre offers unique supports tailored to the local Indigenous community, individuals are able to access:
- legal advice and representation for criminal and child protection matters;
- advocacy and support in dealing with agencies such as the police and Ministry of Children and Family Development;
- referrals to relevant agencies and services such as counselling or employment support;
- information towards better transitions from jail and integration into the community; and
- restorative justice options to better support and address the needs of those impacted by a crime.
“We are driven by the idea of justice through self-determination,” said Douglas White III (Kwulasultun), chair, BCFNJC.
“Our model is to ensure the Indigenous justice centres reflect the priorities and unique needs of First Nations in each respective region. The Indigenous justice centres are a transformative pillar of the First Nations Justice Strategy that we expect will make a significant difference in the experiences of Indigenous peoples with the justice system.”
For more information about the BC First Nations Justice Council, visit www.bcfnjc.com.