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

Drivesmart column: Are slow drivers breaking the law?

When I am behind a driver that is going slower it bothers me.

Flashback: Trips around the lake, to Japan, and on a dangerous highway

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Cowichan’s 49ers just miss fourth Grover Cup

Since the 49ers were founded, the team had never lost a Tony Grover Cup final

Mary Lowther column: Contemplating the compost heap

David made me a three-bin compost system

Sarah Simpson Column: Mistakes will happen but kindness prevails

You know those jerks who always follow the trail directions wrong? I… Continue reading

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

Most Read