Legal Aid Alberta commemorates National Indigenous History Month by recognizing the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
June is National Indigenous History Month. At Legal Aid Alberta, we are taking the time to recognize the history, heritage and resilience of the Indigenous peoples in Canada. We each play a part in reconciliation and allyship within the justice system to help meet the calls to action from the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
In this article, we present a diverse collection of educational resources that offer valuable insights into Indigenous court, Indigenous law and deepen our understanding of Indigenous history in Canada.
Edmonton’s Indigenous court is distinct from your typical docket court – aside from the accused, defence counsel, prosecutor and judge, this court process also involves an Elder, a caseworker, an eagle staff and even a smudge ceremony.
Legal Aid Alberta staff lawyer Shalayn Martel appeared on Global News Morning Edmonton’s Ask a Lawyer this month to share what goes on in Indigenous court, how it’s addressing overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system and how it incorporates Indigenous culture and values in the process.
Legal Aid Alberta lawyers are playing an important role representing clients in the newly established Edmonton Indigenous Court.
Indigenous courts are specialized courts that focus on healing individuals impacted by the trauma of colonization practices like residential schools, the 60s Scoop and the Millennial Scoop, and to address the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.
It’s not a new trend but the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in Edmonton’s prisons is much higher than the Canadian average and continuing to grow at a faster rate, as advocates search for solutions.
“The courts have not been able to address, were not designed to address, issues of addiction, housing and poverty,” said Stephen Shirt with Legal Aid Alberta.