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commitments set the stage for working together as equal partners to reform
the justice system and make it more respectful and culturally responsive for
We built upon this work in 2018 at the 10th and 11th Justice Summits—
the first events of their kind to focus exclusively on Indigenous peoples’
experience of the justice system. At the summits, Indigenous leaders led
discussions with government representatives about the challenges their
people face, how the current justice system affects them and what needs to
change. Together, we concluded that Indigenous leaders should take the
lead on this ground-breaking work and on the development of the Indigenous
This decision represents a transformative shift in how we partner with
Indigenous people to approach problems and develop solutions. It ensures
that strategies for addressing issues of concern to Indigenous people are led
by Indigenous people, not just informed by consultations with them.
To support the development of the Justice Strategies, we provided funding
to BCFNJC and MNBC to organize and hold their own regional justice
forums and community engagements across British Columbia. These meetings
provided safe spaces where community members and service providers
could discuss emotionally charged issues, identify what is not
working in the justice system and recommend bold new approaches.
Their hard work paid off and in October 2019, Minister Farnworth and I
were delighted to receive a draft of the first BC First Nations Justice Strategy,
the first one of its kind written by and for First Nations people. The document
outlines how we can improve the experience of First Nations people
involved in the criminal justice system, reduce incarceration rates and
rebuild traditional First Nations justice systems and institutions.
I am confident the Métis Justice Strategy will also provide valuable ideas
that can improve outcomes for the Métis people in our province. Having
two separate strategies recognizes that First Nations and Métis people have
different cultures, priorities and histories with the province and ensures
that Nations-distinct needs of each group are met.
On March 6, we took a historic step forward when Minister Farnworth
and I met with First Nations leaders in Nanaimo to announce the government’s
support for the First Nations Justice Strategy. We look forward to
working in partnership to start making much-needed transformative
changes in the justice system.
One of our top joint priorities is developing Indigenous Justice Centres
across B.C. that will provide legal advocacy and wraparound services to
Indigenous clients interacting with the justice system.