Strategy 12
Track 2

Shaping the Future of First Nations Courts

Illustration from Austin Harry

Adopting a renewed approach to First Nations Courts to ensure there is space for the development, role, and function of First Nations justice institutions, including Indigenous Justice Centres.

The Challenge

In BC, First Nations Courts are criminal sentencing courts for Indigenous people where different processes and procedures, including those that are more healing-based and culturally appropriate, can occur at the sentencing stage. The goal of these courts is to create pathways for healing and the restoration of balance by involving Elders and restorative justice practices in the court process. While an important initiative, First Nations Courts are still embedded in the mainstream justice system and are not courts where First Nations laws and jurisdictions are applied through First Nations institutions. 

New policies and approaches are needed to guide the future of First Nations Courts and determine how they may support the emergence of First Nations legal order courts that are based on and administered according to the self-determination and the priorities of First Nations.

The Solution

BCFNJC and BC will co-develop an approach to First Nations Justice Courts that will ensure the future investment and expansion in the current model of First Nations Courts, a Track 1 initiative of the Strategy. This approach will also revitalize the role and function of First Nations Courts and consider how they may support and provide space for the role and function of Indigenous Justice Centres and the development of First Nations justice institutions, Track 2 work of the Strategy.

There are currently nine First Nations iterations of provincial courts in BC: New Westminster First Nations Court, North Vancouver (Chet wa nexwníw̓ ta S7eḵw’í7tel), Kamloops (Cknucwentn), Duncan First Nations Court, Nicola Valley Indigenous Court, Prince George Indigenous Court, Williams Lake Indigenous Court, Hazelton Indigenous Court, and Lillooet Indigenous Court.

Line of Action

Co-develop a joint policy and approach regarding First Nations Courts
Status not-started
More info 00We do not have funding to work on this strategy but in 2024-25 we hope to find these resources and to start to create this policy. One of the workshops at the 2024 Forum is focused on this strategy and there will be a presentation from members of the BC Provincial Court and discussion with Rights and Title Holders on how to begin this work in earnest.