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Indigenous peoples in criminal justice system in BC

eAwaz Local News

Williams Lake – Advancing reconciliation requires dealing with both systemic racism and the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system. Supporting culturally appropriate, Indigenous-led and community-based justice services is key to making systemic change Canadians know is necessary.

Gary Anandasangaree, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Taleed Noormohamed, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, and Violet Fuller, Executive Director of the Yeqox Nilin Justice Society (YNJS), announced funding to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system and provide community-based justice services to Indigenous peoples in Williams Lake, British Columbia.

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected Indigenous communities, and its impacts will continue to be felt for years to come. Indigenous communities across Canada have seen an increase in addiction and mental health issues and homelessness—factors known to contribute to higher rates of crime and incarceration.

To address the overrepresentation of Indigneous peoples in the justice system in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region, the YNJS is launching Gladue Aftercare services that focus on implementing healing plan recommendations from Gladue Reports and Indigenous Court proceedings. These services include support services such as counselling, sessions with Elders and cultural activities. With additional support for Gladue Aftercare services, the YNJS will be better equipped to assist more individuals and provide increased access to culturally-informed justice processes.

The YNJS also provides justice services that promote traditional approaches to justice and peacemaking, including restorative justice processes, youth and adult support services and victim services. Continued support for these services is critical in promoting traditional, culturally appropriate justice processes within Indigenous communities.

To support the YNJS’ work, Justice Canada is providing a total of $984,538 over 5 years in funding through its Indigenous Justice Program. This includes $409,750 over 5 years in funding to support the provision of Gladue Aftercare services, $74,788 over 3 years in program integrity funding to support the increased demand for community-based justice services, and $500,000 over 5 years for the continued delivery of community-based justice services to First Nations in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region in British Columbia.

A portion of this funding is provided as part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to increase the application of Gladue principles in the criminal justice system in order to help address the systemic factors that contribute to the over-representation of Indigenous peoples—a commitment that is echoed as a key initiative to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system in the Government of Canada’s Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People. This investment also supports the Government of Canada’s efforts to advance reconciliation in Canada and respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC) Calls to Action.

Resiliency is reviving our traditional healing by empowering our people. The Gladue Aftercare is a new funding opportunity for Yeqox Nilin Justice Society that will allow us to build up our resources and services. This gives our clients more of an opportunity to find the resources needed to build their healing plans and be successful when going through Indigenous Court.” Violet Fuller,Executive Director, Yeqox Nilin Justice Society