Legislative Assembly Report from Niki Sharma, Attorney General of BC

May 15, 2024 – Legislative Assembly Report from Niki Sharma, Attorney General of BC:

The Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

With us today are Hugh Braker, K.C., President of the Native Courtworkers. Mr. Braker has been President of the Courtworkers for almost 30 years. Mr. Darryl Shackelly, CEO of the Courtworkers, Mr. Shackelly has been with the Courtworkers for 27 years. Mr. Shane Johnson, who has been the Victoria Courtworker for 18 years, Ms. Rae Alcock, Director of Court Services for the Courtworkers, who has been with the Association for two years and Ms. Lurdes Balfour who is the Operations Manager and who has been with the Association for 4 years.

For fifty years the Native Courtworkers have been providing culturally appropriate services to Indigenous people; in conflict with the law, explaining to people their rights and responsibilities under the law, arranging legal aid, having questions about the law, arranging translation when necessary, providing culturally appropriate community workshops and many other services.

Some Provincial Court Judges, particularly in remote areas, have written letters stating that their courts could not function without the Courtworkers. In the past 50 years, the Native Courtworkers estimate that they have assisted well over 100,000 (Darryl Shackelly has confirmed more accurately, over 300,000) Indigenous British Columbians.

Today the Courtworkers are assisting an average of 6,600 Indigenous British Columbians per year. They have almost 50 staff and serve 51 court locations in British Columbia plus First Nations Court. Six counsellors also assist Indigenous people in various locations. 13 volunteer Board of Directors from regions of BC oversee the Native Courtworkers. The Courtworker employees provide quality and innovative services where people are treated with dignity and respect. They remain one of the most respected Indigenous organizations in BC and look forward to more years of confidence from Indigenous people.