By Alan S. Hale, Kenora Daily MIner and News
Treaty 3 Grand Chief Warren White has been given an important role to play in the provincial government’s efforts to address the inequities faced by aboriginal people when going through the justice system.
White and former attorney general of Ontario, Murray Segal, have been appointed the co-chairmen of a newly-created advisory group which has been tasked with examining issues that affect First Nations people when dealing with Ontario’s court system.
“I am honoured to serve as co-chairman to provide advice to the Ontario Attorney General on broad justice issues facing our First Nation people in Ontario,” said White in a prepared statement.
“(We will be) closely examining all phases of the justice system continuum impacting First Nation people and communities, from police investigations to programming for inmates in institutions. There are many outstanding issues requiring attention, such as violence against aboriginal women, that a partnership such as this can begin to address.”
The creation of the new advisory group was one of the main recommendations made by Justice Frank Iacobucci following his investigation into the under-representation of aboriginal people on jury rolls; a review which was sparked by a Kenora manslaughter conviction being overturned because of that deficiency. The group’s role will be to bring together for aboriginal leaders and aboriginal justice experts, and provide advice to the attorney general on how to improve Ontario’s justice system’s impact on First Nations people.
White and Segal’s first task will be to come up with a membership list which will be submitted to the attorney general as well as a list of issues the group will be looking into.
“The Aboriginal Justice Advisory Group will be a vital resource for our government in our ongoing efforts to improve Ontario’s system of justice. I look forward to working with our two experienced leaders, Warren White and Murray Segal, to build a justice system that is more responsive to the needs of aboriginal peoples,” said Ontario attorney general John Gerretsen.