Manitoba transfers justice program to Indigenous organizations

By The Canadian Press and News Staff

The Manitoba government is transferring a justice program to Indigenous organizations.

Groups including the Southern Chiefs Organization and the Manitoba Metis Federation have signed an agreement to take over the First Nation Court Work Program.

The program provides culturally relevant supports to Indigenous people involved in the justice system.

“The Southern Chiefs’ Organization is proud to be taking over a program of this importance,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels in a statement. “First Nation peoples have long experienced systemic racism and discrimination within the criminal justice system. SCO’s First Nation court workers will assist our citizens to obtain fair, just, equitable, and culturally relevant supports within and beyond the courtroom.”

“Our First Nation Court Workers will be responsible for liaising between the court and SCO citizens and their families,” added Chief Derrick Henderson of the Sagkeeng Anicinabe First Nation. “They will be a tremendous resource and provide timely connections to legal as well as First Nation resources, located both on and off reserve.”

Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen says the program aims to address the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.

“We know that supporting Indigenous-led solutions is imperative to making meaningful progress on the path to reconciliation, and we look forward to ongoing meaningful reciprocal and respectful relationships that ensure appropriate services and supports are being delivered,” said Goertzen in a statement.

The Manitoba and federal governments are supporting the program transition by providing grants of more than $1 million per year for two years.

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