African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition to lead the institute
Nova Scotia announced on July 12 the new community-led African Nova Scotian Justice Institute, for which the province has invested $4.8 million to enable it to be fully staffed and to start offering programs and services within a year.
The African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition is leading the institute, which is described in the news release as one of the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada.
“The African Nova Scotian Justice Institute will be led by community and driven by African Nova Scotian subject-matter experts whose work will support programs and services that will help address institutional racism,” said Iain Rankin, Nova Scotia’s premier, in the news release.
The institute, which aims to assist in tackling overrepresentation and anti-Black racism in the justice system, will be offering eight justice-related support, research and outreach programs for African Nova Scotians in contact with the law, including:
- units addressing race and cultural assessments and treatment services
- a data collection and policing accountability unit
- a court support program
- a community justice legal defence program
- a bail alternative, incarceration support and reintegration program
- an alternative justice and victim services program
- a public legal education and youth development program
- human rights and policing accountability programming
African Nova Scotians are overrepresented in the provincial criminal justice system, making up 10 per cent of admissions to sentenced custody and 11 per cent of admissions to remand in provincial correctional facilities despite comprising only 2.4 per cent of Nova Scotia’s total population, said the news release.
“The African Nova Scotian Justice Institute is part of a new path, where community experts will help lead the way as we work to build a more equitable province, together,” said Tony Ince, minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs and of the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, who commended the efforts of the members of the African Nova Scotian Decade of Persons of African Descent Coalition.
“We appreciate that the Nova Scotia government recognizes the institutional and systemic anti-Black racism faced by African Nova Scotians and their families when dealing with human rights, policing and corrections, and the justice system as a whole – and is willing to support African Nova Scotian-led work to address these issues,” said Michelle Williams, professor of the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University and a member of the African Nova Scotian Decade of Persons of African Descent Coalition’s Justice Strategy Working Group.