THE ADVOCATE 895 VOL. 75 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2017 I had the privilege of being introduced to prominent First Nations advocates like Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chief Robert Chamberlain and Don Bain, as well as street-level advocates for urban Indigenous peoples like the late Clarence Dennis and his son David, Preston Guno, as well as Christine Smith. The lessons I learned from them make me especially glad that our new government has committed to doing the work of implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. But the work will not stop there. Our newly signed memorandum of understanding with the Aboriginal Justice Council to develop and implement an Indigenous justice strategy means that the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and I will work with Indigenous communities and leaders to set targets and take action to reduce the numbers of Indigenous people who are involved in the justice system, as victims or offenders, as well as those who are incarcerated. This work is all long overdue. OF COURSE, ACCESS TO JUSTICE Improving equal access to justice for all British Columbians is a key priority for me, and for British Columbia’s new government. Not only will we be improving legal aid services, including First Nations legal services, we will also be enhancing dispute resolution services for families and expanding poverty law services. In addition, I will be asking for the support of all members of the bench and bar in identifying and implementing initiatives to improve access to justice in British Columbia generally. We must make the justice system more accessible, more fair and less burdensome on all parties, and address basic and longstanding issues like resourcing for the Court Services Branch to minimize court delays due to staffing. I will need your support to identify, shape and implement these initiatives, and, given my experience with the public spirit of the B.C. bench and bar to date, I am sure that these requests for help will be enthusiastically answered. IMMEDIATE MEASURES I was very proud when in September our new government announced the re-establishment of a B.C. Human Rights Commission for our province, to be implemented in 2018. Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon is well underway with his consultation throughout the province on how best to shape the commission’s mandate.
Nov Advocate 2017
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