The working relationship between Legal Aid BC (LABC) and the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia (NCCABC) was formalized during a virtual ceremony today when both parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to continue to partner on Indigenous justice services initiatives.
The MOU outlines the long-standing collaborative relationship between the two organizations and recognizes the importance of supporting each other's mandates to move forward on key Indigenous justice services and initiatives.
The agreement reinforces LABC's commitment to increase access to justice for Indigenous peoples in BC and to being a leader in the journey to reconciliation in Canada. It also acknowledges NCCABC's leadership and expertise in Indigenous justice service delivery, as well as its relationships, networks and collaborative approach to meeting Indigenous clients’ needs.
“Both organizations are committed to treating Indigenous people with dignity and respect in the justice system,” said LABC CEO Mark Benton, QC. “We are already well on our way to supporting one another on several projects. The MOU is a tool to help us extend our reach to better meet client needs throughout the province. ”
LABC and the NCCABC have already been working together on several initiatives such as supporting work involving the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, community dialogues and helping women who are victims of violence.
“Time and again, royal commissions, studies, inquiries and reports have called for changes to the way the justice system deals with Indigenous people,” said NCCABC President Hugh Braker, QC. “The NCCABC and LABC will work together to achieve the goal of positive change for Indigenous people in the justice system.”
Both organizations also committed to supporting each other in identifying and supporting key family, criminal and civil justice priorities through Parents Legal Centres, Gladue, First Nations/Indigenous Courts, family courtworkers and core training competencies.
LABC, the provider of legal aid in BC, has a dedicated Indigenous Services Division. The Indigenous-led division focuses on ensuring legal aid services meet Indigenous peoples’ needs in BC.