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January 13, 2020
B.C. will see its newest Indigenous court open in the spring, and the provincial attorney general says the move is a step towards creating a justice system that is more respectful of Indigenous needs and practices.
The province’s first Indigenous court was established in New Westminster in 2006, with the seventh iteration scheduled to begin sitting monthly at the Williams Lake courthouse in May. An Indigenous court is a sentencing court — it does not conduct trials, but it provides an Indigenous perspective, based on a holistic and restorative approach, to sentencing individuals who have acknowledged responsibility for their criminal offences. Local Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers who have completed a program of orientation give advice on a healing plan, which may then be incorporated as part of a fit sentence for the individual who has pleaded guilty.
The Office of the Chief Judge of the B.C. provincial court said in an e-mail to The Lawyer’s Daily the court will aim to “provide a safe and respectful environment for Indigenous offenders to hear elders and be heard in a holistic and restorative manner.”
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