Court work program to help Indigenous offenders obtain culturally relevant treatment and support
Prince Edward Island has adopted a court work program to help Indigenous people better navigate the criminal justice system, the Department of Justice and Public Safety announced.
The Indigenous Courtwork Services seeks to help Indigenous offenders obtain fair, just, equitable and culturally relevant treatment and support. The program is part of the provincial government’s effort to expand the existing services offered through the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI’s Indigenous Justice Program.
In particular, the court work program will help Indigenous offenders understand their right to counsel, the nature of the charges against them and the philosophy and functioning of the criminal justice system.
In addition, the court work program will help those involved in the administration of the criminal justice system understand the values, customs, languages and socio-economic conditions of Indigenous people.
The court work program will also respond to problems and special needs caused by communication barriers between Indigenous people and criminal justice administrators.
“Indigenous peoples who navigate the criminal justice system need additional supports – ones that are culturally appropriate, that take into account traditions, and recognize intergenerational trauma,” Minister of Justice and Attorney General Bloyce Thompson said.
According to Thompson, the provincial government consulted with key stakeholders, including criminal justice partners, Indigenous people, organizations supporting Indigenous people and Indigenous offenders, before implementing the court work program.