Indigenous court workers: Assist Indigenous adults and youth charged with a criminal offense under the Criminal Code of Canada; separating couples; and parents involved in child welfare matters to better understand their rights, options and responsibilities when appearing before the courts.
The Indigenous court work program supports Indigenous individuals and families involved in criminal justice system understand their rights, options and responsibilities when appearing before the courts, including dealing with child welfare matters.
- Self Determination – assist Indigenous people to understand their right to speak on their own behalf or to request legal counsel, to better understand the nature of the charge against them and the philosophy and functioning of the criminal justice system.
- Creating Awareness – assist in enhancing the awareness and appreciation of the values, customs, and language and socio-economic conditions of Indigenous people on the part of those involved in the administration of the criminal justice system.
- Advocacy and Networking – respond to problems and special needs caused by communication barriers that exist between Indigenous people and those who are involved in the administration of the justice system.
- Access and Referrals – ensure Indigenous people have access to legal and justice-related services prior to, during and following a court appearance and to maintain the effectiveness of those services.
It is expected that community members who access the services of Indigenous court work program will:
- Gain an increased understanding of their rights, obligations and responsibilities;
- Gain an increased awareness of legal and social resources;
- Enhanced knowledge of legislation, policy and processes affecting Indigenous people before the courts
It is expected that the Indigenous Court work Program will impact the justice system through:
- Pursuit of fair, equitable and culturally sensitive treatment by the justice system;
- Decreased involvement of Indigenous people in the legal system; and,
- Reduced rates of recidivism
Target group/Eligibility Criteria
In Ontario, the Indigenous court work program is available to assist Indigenous people who voluntarily accept assistance and are in contact with the legal, including adults, youth and families, regardless of legal definitions. A youth, for the purpose of the Indigenous court work program, is defined as a young person between the ages of 13 to when the young person reaches the age of 18 (Youth Criminal Justice Act).
- Workshops to community on justice matters including workshops specific to youth justice;
- Presentations to people involved in the justice system on cultural competency, Indigenous peoples’ unique experiences with the criminal justice system, and services offered at the Friendship Centres;
- Program promotion to youth, family, community;
- Promoting understanding within the Indigenous community of the mainstream justice system including Indigenous community justice processes (where available);
- Attend court – Criminal/youth/family/child welfare to provide courts with relevant information about the person’s life experiences, programs the person has agreed to attend, clarify on the Indigenous Court work program and describing the related action plans;
- Review Crown Screening form/disclosure where available;
- Make referrals, In-depth knowledge of community/Friendship Centre resources;
- Offer support (I.e. peer counselling, listening);
- Advocate for diversions/alternative dispute resolution;
- Provide information on nature of charge, court process, rights;
- Facilitate understanding process/documents required for Legal Aid Ontario Application;
- Provide a list of at least 3 lawyers for participants to retain;
- Explain legal terminology into plain language;
- Explain roles/responsibilities of surety;
- Negotiate with Crown on behalf of unrepresented participants;
- Assist in family court forms where requested;
- At request of Direct Service User attend conferences;
- Follow up on referrals, internal and external;
- Participate on committees/boards.