Treaty 3 Ogichidaa to co-chair Aboriginal Justice Advisory Group
Grand Council Treaty #3 Ogichidaa Warren White is looking forward to providing advice to the Ontario Attorney General as co-chair of the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Group.
“I look forward to providing input on traditional approaches to community well-being and reconciliation as strongly recommended in the Iacobucci report, and closely examining all phases of the justice system continuum impacting First Nation people and communities, from police investigations to programming for inmates in institutions,” White said after being appointed co-chair on Dec. 6 along with Murray Segal, former deputy attorney general of Ontario and former deputy minister responsible for Aboriginal affairs. “There are many outstanding issues requiring attention, such as violence against Aboriginal women, that a partnership such as this can begin to address.”
The Aboriginal Justice Advisory Group was established in response to one of the key recommendations of the Honourable Frank Iacobucci’s report, First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries.
“The Aboriginal Justice Advisory Group will be a vital resource for our government in our ongoing efforts to improve Ontario’s system of justice,” said Attorney General John Gerretsen. “I look forward to working with our two experienced leaders, Ogichidaa Warren White and Murray Segal, to build a justice system that is more responsive to the needs of Aboriginal peoples.”
Developed as a forum for the government to collaborate with Aboriginal leaders and others with knowledge of Aboriginal justice issues, the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Group will consider ways to improve how the Ontario justice system impacts Aboriginal peoples and to provide advice to the Attorney General.
“With the appointment of Ogichidaa Warren White and former deputy attorney general Murray Segal, Ontario has taken another important step to address Aboriginal justice issues,” said David Zimmer, minister of Aboriginal Affairs. “The co-chairs offer a wealth of experience and knowledge and will play an important role in improving Ontario’s justice system for Aboriginal peoples.”
Iacobucci offered 17 major recommendations in his report this past February, including the Juries Review Implementation Committee and the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Group that have since been implemented by the provincial government.
Iacobucci’s third recommendation was for the Ministry of the Attorney General, after obtaining input of the Juries Review Implementation Committee, to provide cultural training for all government officials working in the justice system who have contact with First Nations peoples, including police, court workers, Crown prosecutors, prison guards and other related agencies.
Iacobucci said the justice system as it relates to First Nations is currently in a crisis, particularly in northern Ontario, during the presentation of his report.
“Despite the efforts of many individuals, access to justice, the administration of justice, the availability and quality of legal services, the treatment of First Nations peoples in the justice system, all are wanting in northern Ontario,” Iacobucci said. “In this context, it stands to reason that if the justice system has and continues to fail First Nations people, they will be reticent to participate in the process to assemble the jury roll or to serve on juries. These unfortunate circumstances lie at the heart of the problem of the juries issue.”
Iacobucci’s report can be found on the provincial government website at http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/iacobucci/pdf/First_Nations_Representation_Ontario_Juries.pdf.
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