A new Indigenous court has been approved for Williams Lake. (Williams Lake Tribune file photo)

New Indigenous court coming to Williams Lake

The court is intended to help reduce the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in jails

There will be a new, Indigenous court in Williams Lake, Attorney General David Eby announced Monday.

“Our government is committed to addressing the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in the correctional system, which has its roots in systemic discrimination and the impacts of intergenerational trauma from residential schools,” Eby noted in a press release.

Eby said the Province is working with Indigenous communities to establish Indigenous courts throughout British Columbia to offer alternative sentencing options that honour traditional cultural practices, support rehabilitation and acknowledge the impact the person’s actions have had on others.

Read More: B.C. builds on Indigenous reconciliation plan with summit

He added that he was pleased that Melissa Gillespie, provincial court chief judge, has increased access to these more culturally appropriate approaches in Williams Lake by approving the community’s proposal for an Indigenous court.

“It will support better outcomes for people in conflict with the law and help reduce the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in our jails. It also brings us one step closer to reaching one of our most important goals as a government – building a justice system that better respects and addresses the needs of Indigenous peoples.”

Chief Joe Alphonse, chief of the Tl’etinqox First Nation west of Williams Lake and Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair, welcomes a new approach in the courts.

“What we have isn’t working, so why not give it a try if it’s going to contribute to a safer community,” Alphonse said.

Alphonse feels there is “a big separation” between his community members and the current system, which he believes doesn’t support victims or offenders.

“There’s no connection back to the community, whether that’s our First Nation communities or the community of Williams Lake,” he said. “We have to continue to look at alternative ways that are more effective.”

Alphonse said his community has seen a reduction in gang-related activity at home and in nearby Williams Lake with a renewed and concerted effort to support positive activities for children on reserve.

“We shifted our focus to the kids that are doing well. We talk to them, encourage them and congratulate them when they are doing good things. We provide sports opportunities, and when they have to leave our community for school in town we sit down and talk to them about the how they might be pressured to join a gang and that we don’t want them to do that. Engaging them is the way to go.”

The Indigenous court will be up and running in Williams Lake in May.

Only offenders who are willing to admit guilt and are willing to make amends can be a part of the Indigenous court.

Read More: Williams Lake RCMP target 30 offenders to tackle property crime


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Young Muslims offer helping hand to isolated residents throughout Lower Mainland

Neighbourhood Helper campaign aims to get help to people who can’t leave their homes

South Surrey man aims to ease stress of pandemic with free online yoga

Patrick Aubert says his one-hour classes are about rest, recovery

White Rock’s promenade to close to the public

Public access to popular waterfront walkway closing April 10: city

Christopherson Steps, 1,001 Steps closed due to COVID-19

Access restricted to Crescent Beach over Easter weekend, City of Surrey announces

LETTER: With a long road of recovery ahead, Surrey must keep RCMP

To change for the sake of change shows weak leadership, inability to understand needs of community

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

COVID-19 world update: 6.6 million U.S. jobless claims; alcohol sales banned in Bangkok

Comprehensive digest of coronavirus news items from around the world

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

BC institution has highest number of positive results for COVID-19

11 inmates in Mission test positive for coronavirus, more than any other federal prison in Canada

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Most Read