First Nations Court Proposed for Cariboo Community
Williams Lake, B.C. – A plan is in motion to bring a First Nations court to Williams Lake.
Dave Dickson, community safety manager for the City of Wiliams Lake and the local RCMP, says it’s been in the works for about three years.
The court differs from standard courts by including First Nations elders in the sentencing process by focusing on community healing and developing a plan for offenders.
“For this to be successful the First Nations have to be involved, we’re totally cognizant of that,” he says, adding they hope to have it in place by this September.
“We’re at the stage now where we’re going to be going to First Nations communities to share more about the program and for them to select elders that we can work with to help with training.”
Dickson says First Nations courts have been used elsewhere in the province, including Duncan, New Westminster and Kamloops.
“I’ve been to court in Kamloops and listened to the court, apparently it’s successful (though he hasn’t seen statistics to back that up).Talking to people like (Alexis Creek) Chief Ervin Charleyboy, they are supportive of it. They want to be involved in the sentencing in dealing with these people.”
He says the current system simply isn’t effective enough.
“No disrespect to the courts for a second but to stand before a judge and get sentenced or go through the process is not as traumatic as having to stand before your community leaders, your elders, and admit you’ve committed a transgression.” says Dickson.
“Are we going to be successful on every case though? Not likely, but let’s try it. If we change one person around, 10 people, that’s success.”
He adds the plan has the enthusiastic support of judges in town.
“We had lunch with them the other day and they would like us to start yesterday.”