If you or a friend or relative have a problem with the law, the Aboriginal court worker can help in many ways.
When a person is accused of a crime, or they are dealing with issues in court, the systems can be a complicated, confusing and even a frightening experience.
The criminal justice system can be particularly difficult to understand due to language and cultural difference between Aboriginal people and the mainstream system.
In Ontario, the Aboriginal Court Worker Program is available to provide assistance to Aboriginal people who are in contact with the legal system, whether they are Status, Non-Status, Metis, or Inuit.
Aboriginal Court Worker help their clients receive fair and equitable treatment from the legal system and assist client in gaining a better understanding of their rights and obligations in the legal system.
THE ABORIGINAL COURT WORKER WILL:
- Provide a variety of services to Aboriginal people who require support in criminal court.
- Deliver services to all Aboriginal people in strict confidence.
- Assist Aboriginal individuals by acting as a liaison between the individual and the court.
- Explain to the individual the reasons for their arrest, their legal rights and responsibilities and information regarding the charges they face.
- Provide information about Legal Aid if the accused cannot afford a lawyer.
- Obtain the service of Aboriginal language interpreters when needed, and Aboriginal cultural interpreters if it has bearings on the case.
- Explain to clients the decision that he court makes at various stages of their cases.
- May participate in the preparation of a pre-sentence report to ensure that the background of a convicted Aboriginal person is properly presented.
- Explain to a person placed on bail and probation what this means, and what is expected of them.
- Work with community agencies to help the client meet their immediate and long-term needs and goals in relation to a court process.
- Will make contact with the area Native Inmate Liaison Worker if the accused is sentence to a provincial institution.
- May visit Aboriginal inmates in jails and penitentiaries in their area to provide information and moral support.
- Participate in the community development of prevention programs, with an emphasis on youth to reduce the incidence of crime; and assist in the development and delivery of Aboriginal Community Justice Program.
- Provide education to the judiciary to help them better understand the cultural needs and aspirations of Aboriginal People.
- Ensure Aboriginals are given the opportunity to use an Eagle Feather in court.
THE ABORIGINAL COURT WORKER WILL NOT:
- Provide legal advice.
- Act as language interpreters for the court.
- Supervise bail, probation, or parole.
THE ABORIGINAL COURT WORKERS ALSO PROVIDE SERVICES TO COURT OFFICIALS BY:
- Assisting justice officials in understanding the culture, values, and customs of Aboriginal people.
- Improving communication between Aboriginal client and the justice system.
- Strengthening the relationships between Aboriginal communities and formal justice system; by creating community partnerships, working on communities, providing information, promoting the Aboriginal Court Worker Program through various activities and assisting with presentations and workshops.