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)

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

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Transfer Beach Dippers have been taking to the waters of Transfer Beach as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)
‘Transfer Beach Dippers’ group finds community in the cold water

Dippers tend to dip at 6am, 8:45am, or 6pm at Transfer Beach

John Ambrose Seward, 33, is described as Indigenous and five-foot-eight with short black hair and brown eyes. (Police handout)
John Ambrose Seward, 33, is described as Indigenous and five-foot-eight with short black hair and brown eyes. (Police handout)
High-risk sex offender banned from central Island, living in Vancouver: police

John Ambrose Seward, 33, has been released from prison under a number of conditions

Chemainus Theatre facilities manager Damion Knight at the spot inside the gallery and gift shop where thieves smashed a window and grabbed masks. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Unique masks valued at $1,000 stolen from Chemainus Theatre Gallery

Thieves smash a window and grab the goods early Monday morning

Firefighters, including those from Cranberry volunteer department, are battling a blaze in the Nanaimo River Road area. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Dwelling destroyed, two taken to hospital after Nanaimo River Road blaze

Numerous fire departments and first responders at south Nanaimo area

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read