Canada supports efforts to update First Nations justice system framework

Framework to empower individuals, families, communities by restoring traditional Indigenous justice

Canada supports efforts to update First Nations justice system framework

The federal justice department is providing funding of $489,486 over three years, through its Justice Partnership and Innovation Program, to an initiative seeking to revitalize and to increase understanding and knowledge of Indigenous laws across First Nation communities.

Terry Duguid, parliamentary secretary to the economic development and official languages minister and to the environment and climate change minister, announced Canada’s support to the project on behalf of David Lametti, federal justice minister and attorney general, and on behalf of Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice Chief Edward Lerat.

The initiative will include interviews with knowledge keepers and Elders across First Nation communities in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan for better insights regarding Indigenous laws, practices and processes.

“Together, the FSIN works diligently with other First Nations leaders to describe both the historical context and experience of an inherent and traditional Indigenous justice system,” said Lerat in the news release.

The project aims to update the federation’s framework for a First Nations justice system, developed in 2013 to address 23 resolutions passed by the federation’s Chiefs-in-Assembly mandating the creation of a First Nations justice system and to empower individuals, families and communities by restoring traditional Indigenous justice.

Duguid expressed confidence that the funding would help Indigenous communities as they work to revitalize their legal systems, which include unique laws and legal traditions.

The federal justice department’s Justice Partnership and Innovation Program seeks to support activities that competently respond to the shifting conditions impacting Canadian justice policy. The funding will contribute to the reconciliation efforts to help Indigenous communities and organizations revitalize their legal traditions, said Lametti.

According to the news release, Canada’s support for this project is in line with its commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and communities, including through the protection of their right to self-determination and through the acknowledgment of their integral role in developing, using and comprehending Indigenous laws, as well as its response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 50.

Call to Action 50, which aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, urges the federal government to work alongside Indigenous organizations to finance the work of Indigenous law institutes to develop, use and understand Indigenous laws in a way that respects Indigenous peoples’ unique cultures.

“The Government will walk the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and remain focused on implementing the commitments regarding CTA 50,” said Lametti.

The federal government has responded to Call to Action 50 by announcing funding of $10 million over five years to support Indigenous law initiatives in Budget 2019, has proposed investments for the development of Administration of Justice Agreements with Indigenous communities in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement and has included $18 million in investments over five years, as well as $4 million in ongoing investments to revive the Law Commission of Canada, to help address systemic barriers in the justice system, including those encountered by Indigenous peoples, in Budget 2021.

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