The Indigenous Court Workers Program currently run by the province will transition operation over to Indigenous rights holder organizations.
The program provides culturally appropriate support to help Indigenous people navigate the court system and connect to resources. Indigenous court workers will go to court with an accused and provide them with support in their language. Families of an accused are also supported in the process. The workers also provide the court with information regarding resources the are available in an accused person’s community. They can also help connect an accused with those resources.
“Shifting these resources to rights holder organizations who work directly with communities will ensure greater access to this valuable resource for Indigenous people who come in contact with the criminal justice system,” said Justice Minister Cameron Friesen.
Four organizations will split more than $1 million in funding in each of the next two years said the minister. Those organizations are Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF), the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) and the Island Lake Tribal Council (ILTC)
“For too long, the first peoples of this land have suffered at the hands of the justice system, facing racism, overrepresentation, neglect, violence and abuse,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, SCO. “Now, with today’s announcement of the devolution of the ICW program, we can begin to forge a new path forward based on mutual respect and a recognition of the need for Indigenous-led justice services and programs. SCO looks forward to hiring strong advocates, who will work every day on behalf of southern First Nations and their citizens to create better outcomes and opportunities for our people.”
“We are confident that shifting these resources into the hands of the community will maximize the benefits of the program, and we are grateful to MKO, the MMF, the ILTC and SCO for their partnership and collaboration,” said Friesen.
© News4.ca 2021