THUNDER BAY – The Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre, in partnership with Nishnawbe- Aski Legal Services, is pleased to announce that the proposal to establish an Indigenous Peoples Court has been approved by the Chief Justice’s Office, Ontario Court of Justice.
“We are excited to get to the final stages of establishing the Indigenous Peoples Court in Thunder Bay,” says Charlene Baglien, Executive Director for the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre. “This court will be a powerful process to promote healing and reconciliation in our community and to use the teachings of Indigenous people to provide a wholistic approach to justice.”
Celina Reitberger, Executive Director for Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services, commented that, “An essential part of this court is the individual takes responsibility of what he or she has done wrong and that is the beginning of the healing process.”
The Indigenous People’s Court will assist in the healing of Indigenous clients in conflict with the law by using a restorative justice approach to sentencing aligned with Indigenous culture and traditions. “Our goal is to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in custody,” says Frances Wesley, Indigenous People’s Court Coordinator. “And to do that, we must take the time to consider the life experiences of Indigenous peoples and how they’ve been impacted by those experiences.”
The court will draw on the wisdom and experience of local Elders during the court process to ensure a wholistic approach that is consistent with the Medicine Wheel teachings of Indigenous people in this region.