A new Indigenous court has been approved for Williams Lake. (Williams Lake Tribune file photo)

New Indigenous court coming to Williams Lake

The court is intended to help reduce the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in jails

There will be a new, Indigenous court in Williams Lake, Attorney General David Eby announced Monday.

“Our government is committed to addressing the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in the correctional system, which has its roots in systemic discrimination and the impacts of intergenerational trauma from residential schools,” Eby noted in a press release.

Eby said the Province is working with Indigenous communities to establish Indigenous courts throughout British Columbia to offer alternative sentencing options that honour traditional cultural practices, support rehabilitation and acknowledge the impact the person’s actions have had on others.

Read More: B.C. builds on Indigenous reconciliation plan with summit

He added that he was pleased that Melissa Gillespie, provincial court chief judge, has increased access to these more culturally appropriate approaches in Williams Lake by approving the community’s proposal for an Indigenous court.

“It will support better outcomes for people in conflict with the law and help reduce the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in our jails. It also brings us one step closer to reaching one of our most important goals as a government – building a justice system that better respects and addresses the needs of Indigenous peoples.”

Chief Joe Alphonse, chief of the Tl’etinqox First Nation west of Williams Lake and Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair, welcomes a new approach in the courts.

“What we have isn’t working, so why not give it a try if it’s going to contribute to a safer community,” Alphonse said.

Alphonse feels there is “a big separation” between his community members and the current system, which he believes doesn’t support victims or offenders.

“There’s no connection back to the community, whether that’s our First Nation communities or the community of Williams Lake,” he said. “We have to continue to look at alternative ways that are more effective.”

Alphonse said his community has seen a reduction in gang-related activity at home and in nearby Williams Lake with a renewed and concerted effort to support positive activities for children on reserve.

“We shifted our focus to the kids that are doing well. We talk to them, encourage them and congratulate them when they are doing good things. We provide sports opportunities, and when they have to leave our community for school in town we sit down and talk to them about the how they might be pressured to join a gang and that we don’t want them to do that. Engaging them is the way to go.”

The Indigenous court will be up and running in Williams Lake in May.

Only offenders who are willing to admit guilt and are willing to make amends can be a part of the Indigenous court.

Read More: Williams Lake RCMP target 30 offenders to tackle property crime


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Woman comes home to ‘entirely different’ Victoria after cruise ship, military base quarantine

Melanie Sibbitt booked herself a last-minute vacation on a cruise ship hit by COVID-19

Victoria brewery uses 3D-printer to make face shields for health care workers

Phillips Brewing is teaming up with engineers to create single-use medical equipment

Wheelchair user asks people to leave space on sidewalks to socially distance

Wendy Cox says many people are not stepping off the sidewalk to allow her space

COVID-19: Victoria moves homeless into 35 hotel rooms across the city

Mayor pleads with residents to stay inside during pandemic

Victoria street nurse thanks public for outpouring of donations

Businesses and individuals donated gloves, masks, sanitizers and more to frontline workers

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Most Read