New Program to Assist SCO Citizens in Seeking Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 7, 2023
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is pleased to announce the launch of the First Nation Court Worker Program.
“The Southern Chiefs’ Organization is proud to be taking over a program of this importance,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “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.”
SCO will have three First Nation Court Workers located across southern Manitoba. They will be working in Portage La Prairie, Selkirk, and Dauphin and will attend circuit court locations, including those in Bloodvein, Berens River, and other court locations within SCO member Nations.
“Our First Nation Court Workers will be responsible for liaising between the court and SCO citizens and their families,” shared 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.”
SCO’s First Nations Court Workers will also play a critical role ensuring victims and their families are connected with Victims Services, including those for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning) peoples. SCO is in the process of hiring the First Nations Court Workers with a goal of having them in the courts by March 2023.
First Nation citizens are over incarcerated, and according to Statistics Canada, in the last 10 years, there has been a 60 per cent increase in the incarceration of Indigenous men, and a 139 per cent increase in the incarceration of Indigenous women. Manitoba has the highest number of incarcerated Indigenous women in Canada and the highest youth incarceration rates in Canada (19 youth per 10,000 population).
First Nation Court Workers will work alongside SCO’s well established Community Justice Workers, strengthening SCO’s First Nation Justice Program and overall access to justice supports in a culturally sensitive manner. While Community Justice Workers focus on diversion, reintegration and prevention, First Nations Court Workers will focus on the criminal justice processes, sentencing, appearances, and translation.
For more information about SCO’s Justice Program, please visit: https://scoinc.mb.ca/justice-and-rights/
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 83,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
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