Indigenous justice strategy "to make difference for generations," says Eby | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Indigenous justice strategy "to make difference for generations," says Eby

March 06, 2020 - 2:38 PM

NANAIMO, B.C. - British Columbia will work with First Nations to restore legal practices and structures and increase the number of people working within the justice system under an agreement signed Friday that aims to reduce the number of Indigenous people sent to jail.

Attorney General David Eby said the agreement with the First Nations Justice Council is historic and will bring forward changes that will benefit Indigenous people.

"This will make a difference for generations to come and you have government support on the long and difficult work ahead of us of implementation, but today is a very significant landmark in our journey," Eby said at a news conference.

He said about 30 per cent of inmates in B.C.'s jails and prisons are from First Nations, but they comprise less than four per cent of the province's total population. The B.C. numbers are almost similar across Canada.

Eby said his ministry and the council will work together to implement the strategy, which includes establishing a network of Indigenous justice centres and increasing justice programs in First Nations communities.

"This strategy is going to help us all work together," said Eby.

Council spokesman Doug White said the justice system is in need of repair for Indigenous Peoples.

"We've reached a breaking point, a rupture, a transformative moment where we must now stand together in a way that we have never before to create something different," he said. "We must build together a truly just system of justice."

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said B.C.'s corrections system will play a critical role in the strategy by participating in Indigenous-led programs to improve how the criminal justice system deals with Aboriginal Peoples.

Farnworth, who is responsible for the province's corrections system, said he is dismayed by the numbers of Indigenous inmates in B.C.'s jails. He said when he was first elected in 1991 he was shocked to learn that 10 per cent of inmates in B.C. jails were Indigenous people.

"What's even more shocking, what's even more disturbing, is that when you fast forward now 30 years later, that number is at 30 per cent," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 6, 2020.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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