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

Tree roots cause sewage chaos for Langley family

The Murrayville homeowners asked for the removal of a willow tree on Township land

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Heritage rail to remain closed for both July and August

Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society may open Cloverdale Station in September

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

COVID-19 exposure on Vancouver flight

The Air Canada 8421 flight travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Chilliwack

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

UPDATE: Abbotsford shooting victim was alleged ‘crime boss,’ according to court documents

Jazzy Sran, 43, was believed to have been smuggling cocaine across the border

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Most Read