First Nations people have been calling on the B.C and Federal governments for years to overhaul the justice system.
Today, the Honorable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honorable David Eby, Attorney General of British Columbia, the Honorable Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General of British Columbia, and Doug White, Chair of the BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC), met for their first annual Tripartite Ministers’ Meeting under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Canada, British Columbia, and the BCFNJC.
According to this MOU, the governments of Canada, British Columbia, and the BCFNJC are committed to sharing priorities related to Indigenous justice, including improving restorative justice and First Nations-led community justice programs.
The in-person meeting allows all parties involved to interact and build the relationship between Canada, British Columbia, and the BCFNJC while setting the stage for meaningful discussions. During this meeting, the BCFNJC raised numerous priorities to advance work on their First Nations Justice Strategy.
“The BC First Nations Justice Strategy sets the stage for, and commits BC, Canada, and First Nations, to transform the justice system. This will require the federal, provincial governments, the First Nations Justice Council and First Nations, along with leadership of the justice system, to work together in close coordination and partnership to bring about the justice system we have envisioned together.” Doug White, Q.C. Chair of the British Columbia First Nations Justice Council.
In an effort to address the poor justice system outcomes for First Nations in B.C., the BC First Nations Justice Council developed a Justice Strategy with the BC First Nations Community and the government of British Columbia. The BC First Nations Justice Strategy includes 42 calls to action and a two-path approach to transform the existing criminal justice system and restore First Nations laws and justice systems.
The Government of Canada provided $1.5 million over three years to the BCFNJC to support their work on advancing Indigenous justice priorities in British Columbia, including those outlined in the BC First Nations Justice Strategy. The Province of British Columbia is investing over $2.9 million to support the operation of existing and the creation of new Indigenous Justice Centers and $1.25 million to the BCFNJC for Gladue services and reports.
Through the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the Government of Canada provided $28.6 million over five years to support Community Justice Centre (C.J.C.) pilot projects in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario, as well as consultation to expand the C.J.C.s concept to other provinces and territories. $8.9M over five years was provided to BCFNJC for their Indigenous Justice Centers.
This meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss further investments to advance Indigenous justice priorities in British Columbia and in Canada. This partnership between the Government of Canada, the Government of British Columbia, and the BCFNJC will hopefully make meaningful changes within the justice system. After all, dismantling systemic racism and discrimination and revitalizing indigenous legal traditions is beneficial to everyone in Canada.