Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks about B.C.’s new First Nations justice strategy. Attorney General David Eby and Doug White III, chairman of the B.C. First Nations Justice Council, were among others on hand for the endorsing and signing of the strategy Friday at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

New First Nations justice strategy being created in B.C.

15 regional First Nations justice centres being established around the province

The provincial government is committing to new approaches to justice for First Nations people.

Attorney General David Eby and Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth were at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre on Friday to endorse and sign a new First Nations justice strategy, created in partnership with the B.C. First Nations Justice Council.

The province budgeted for three indigenous justice centres in 2019, which are being created in Prince Rupert, Prince George and Merritt, and the plan is to roll out three more each year until there are 15 operating. The centres, according to the strategy, are intended to be “safe and welcoming places that provide legal help and early resolution programs,” and will be tailored to regional needs.

Another component of the strategy will be expanding delivery of Gladue reports, intended to curtail over-representation of indigenous people in jails by factoring First Nations background into sentencing.

“We’ve reached a breaking point, a rupture, a transformational moment where we must stand together in a way that we never have before to create something different…” said Doug White III, chairman of the justice council. “This is about fundamentally re-imagining the criminal justice system in a new, modern, mature way that reflects the realities that we’re faced with and that reflects the future that we want to build together.”

He said in B.C.’s history, the justice system, in relation to First Nations people, hasn’t always been about justice, but rather expressions of power and control.

“What we’re expressing here today is that we are making a sharp break with that history and we’re building something fundamentally different,” he said.

Eby said First Nations people represent about four per cent of the province’s population, but account for 30 per cent of British Columbians who are in jail. He and several others who spoke at Friday’s press conference expressed concern about that over-representation, and Farnworth said those numbers signal a “crisis” and fundamental problems.

“We’re not just saying ‘enough,’ but we are in fact taking concrete steps to acknowledging past wrongs, to learn together to achieve better justice outcomes and literally save lives,” Farnworth said.

He said B.C. Corrections will ensure all staff learn about impacts of colonization, intergenerational trauma and the role of culture in healing.

White said in the past few years, delivery of Gladue reports has quadrupled and he said a goal of the justice strategy is to make those reports a systemic part of sentencing.

General goals of the strategy, according to a government news release, are to reduce the number of First Nations people involved in the criminal justice system and improve the experience of those who do, increase the number of First Nations people working in the justice system, and support restoration of indigenous justice systems.

READ ALSO: First Nations chiefs talk federal budget, racism at assembly in Nanaimo



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First Nations

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

Just Posted

Claiming she has COVID-19, stranger coughs in Cloverdale woman’s face

Clayton Heights woman will now self-isolate for the next two weeks

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

No, Delta police are not pulling over cars to check for social distancing

DPD dispelling rumour cops pulling over vehicles with two or more people, checking IDs, issuing fines

White Rock/South Surrey experts launch website of mental-health resources

Together White Rock/South Surrey aims to help ease the search for supports

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Most Read