Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Expansive level of legal and social services offered by Prince Rupert's Indigenous Justice Centre

Prince Rupert's signature Capitol Mall building has a new tenant
with the Prince Rupert Indigenous Justice Centre relocating
its office and services to Third Avenue West just west of Fulton

An important legal and community resources continues to expand on its footprint in the city, recently making a move to a larger office space to provide for a suite of legal related services for Indigenous residents along the North Coast.

The Prince Rupert Indigenous Justice Centre which is one of three in the province (the others are in Prince George and Merritt) is part of a provincial government commitment to create 17  such centres in total across British Columbia.

The initiative is one that seeks to reduce the high level of incarceration for Indigenous peoples and to create the environment for consideration of alternative sentencing measures that will provide opportunity for a change in direction, or circumstances for those who use the service.

The local office began its operations in early 2020, working out of the Aboriginal Community Services space in Ocean Centre, the staff moved into its own office space earlier this spring taking up residence in the Capitol Mall at #200 - 515 Third Avenue West just above the Community Futures space. 

The staff of the Prince Rupert office includes: James Leach, lawyer, Marie Gaste, Legal Assistant, Rudy Kelly, Community Outreach Coordinator, Brenna Innes, Gladue Writer, and Charlene McLean, Gladue Worker. 

Mr. Kelly provided a snapshot for the North Coast Review towards some of the services that are offered through the centre.

The lawyer assists indigenous clients, at no charge, who are facing charges, with the goal (if he can not get an acquittal) being to avoid incarceration and consider alternative sentencing measures. 

The Outreach Coordinator connects with the area First Nations communities, as well as relevant agencies such as Probation Services, Health, Hecate Strait, Transition Society, Friendship House, Counseling agencies, when they can be a part of/contribute to a client’s efforts to change or reintegrate into society (in the case of those coming out of incarceration). 

The Outreach Coordinator also connects with the First Nations communities in the area to assist in their efforts to create their own justice program or help clients wishing to return to their communities. 

When it comes to the work of a Gladue Writer, the task is one to implement the BC First Nations Justice Strategy with a goal of autonomy and self-determination for Indigenous people that are involved in the criminal justice System.

Click to enlarge

A larger overview of the Gladue principles and how they relate to the Justice system can be explored here.

You can find out more about what the program and the Prince Rupert office in particular has to offer the community from the BC First Nations Justice Council website here.

For further items of note on Community themes see our archive page here.

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