Native courtworkers celebrate 45 years of operations

 

Article written by PATRICK DAVIES published in the Williams Lake Tribune View original article here.

For 45 years now the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Colombia has worked tirelessly to assist First Nations peoples through the court systems.

NCCABC was founded to provide Aboriginal people within the justice system information on their rights under the law, alternative justice solutions and court procedures. The goal is to ensure the individuals receive fair, just and culturally sensitive treatment while on trial.

Much like restorative justice, the NCCABC aims to help Aboriginal offenders, first time and otherwise, address the underlying problems within their lives that increases negative interactions with the law. They also work directly with Aboriginal communities to improve understanding and relationships with the justice system.

In Williams Lake at the Unifor Union Hall, members of the NCCABC’s Williams Lake office for the Southern Interior celebrated the organization’s 45th anniversary with cake, a buffet and a hoop dancing performance of Marie Sharpe’s Hoop Dancers led by Francis Johnson Sr. and his daughter, Alita Johnson.

The gathering was well attended by over two dozen police officers, members of First Nations’ communities, court workers and NCCABC staff. All joined hands with the hoop dancers for a ceremonial circle dance to finish off the event.

The regional manager of the Southern Interior, David Faubert said that the organization covers over 70 per cent of B.C. courtrooms. He believes it’s important to provide specialized help to Aboriginal people who have encounters with the law, as he said taking the effects of colonization and residential schools on the individual can lead to a more just ruling.

“We try to get, instead of jail time, addiction treatment, counselling and community work, things that reintegrate the person back into the community. Our main role is to be a helping hand to justice,” Faubert said.

He manages six native court workers, two youth outreach workers and a case manager here in Williams Lake and would like to see the longevity of the organization carry on. Faubert hopes to have the funds in the future to hire full-time native youth and family court workers, as currently they only work with single adults in the justice system.

NCCABC works with its clients past their court dates and sentencing to help them follow up on parole conditions, therapy or whatever else has been determined to be most beneficial for their case.

Improving their quality of life and opportunities after court is what Faubert feels is most important.

“We’re hoping that the revolving door in the courthouse will slow down for that person or even better stop,” Faubert said.

Over the last 45 years, the NCCABC has made a difference in many peoples’ lives and is something Faubert and his team hope to continue to do for years more.