Posts in Aboriginal
Aboriginal Legal Aid Website Re-launch

We just re-launched our Aboriginal Legal Aid website with new features and easier navigation. We re-designed the site to help you find the legal information and resources you’re looking for, such as child and family rights, on-reserve issues, and information about First Nations/Indigenous Courts.

Many of the new features are a result of feedback received through extensive user testing with Indigenous people from across BC, through interviews and focus groups. We listened to this feedback and incorporated it to create a more helpful and relevant website.

One new website features personal stories based on actual experiences from Indigenous people who share how Legal Aid helped them, such as how mediation helped Wanda get her kids back.

Visit www.aboriginal.legalaid.bc.ca to learn more about a legal problem and how Legal Aid can help.

If you would like to give us feedback on the new website design, please email: aboriginal@lss.bc.ca.

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AboriginalLegal Aid
Hot Off the Press: Clear Skies

Co-produced with the Indigenous Story Studio (ISS). Clear Skies is a comic book that uses striking imagery to tell the story of Marnie and her kids, who live with family violence. With the support of her community, and by learning her legal options, Marnie is able to leave an abusive relationship. Clear Skies speaks to Aboriginal youth and brings a human face to the legal process.

During the development stage, Aboriginal youth asked LSS and ISS to create a video version of the comic book. View the video on the Clear Skies page on the Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC website. This webpage also lists resources and contacts to help people experiencing family violence.

The English language version of Clear Skies has been reprinted with minor changes, and is now available online and in print.

AboriginalLegal Aid
Hot Off the Press- Keeping Aboriginal Kids Safe: Your Family's Rights

This easy-to-understand, illustrated booklet explains the child protection process for Aboriginal children and families, including:

·       what you and your community can do if a social worker removes (takes) your child from your home,

·       how delegated Aboriginal agencies work,

·       how mediation can help you stay out of court,

·       what's involved in the court process, and

·       how the Extended Family Program can help you take care of your child.

Keeping Aboriginal Kids Safe also includes a flow chart of the process for child protection cases that involve Aboriginal children, and a page to write the important details of your child protection case.

The booklet design is friendly and engaging. Soft colours and constellation images based on the theme of Aboriginal sky lore or sky stories are used throughout. A scenario, with dialogue and original drawings in comic-book style, illustrate each of the booklet's topics.

Keeping Aboriginal Kids Safe replaces the Aboriginal Child Protection fact sheets. Please recycle the fact sheets.

AboriginalLegal Aid
Gladue Reports Graphic Novel Focus Group

The Legal Services Society (Legal Aid BC) is working with the Healthy Aboriginal Network to create a story about Gladue reports in the form of a graphic novel and video.

Under the Criminal Code, people who identify as Aboriginal have Gladue rights. These rights encourage judges to take a restorative justice approach to sentencing that helps both the offender and community heal. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that judges must look at how Indigenous offenders’ lives have been affected by colonialism and systemic racism and must consider sentences other than jail to repair the harm a crime has done.

You're invited to watch the focus group short and provide feedback. The videos are made from the rough storyboards, so that after focus group testing and feedback, the story and illustrations can be edited easily and cheaply. After you watch the video, please think about what you liked the most/least and if the story, situation, and characters seemed realistic to you.

Please email your feedback to sean@thehealthyaboriginal.net.

AboriginalLegal Aidvideo, Gladue, comic
Increased funding for Gladue reports

This year, the Legal Services Society has increased funding available for Gladue reports.

Under the criminal code, people who identify as Aboriginal have Gladue rights. These rights encourage judges to take a restorative justice approach to sentencing that helps both the offender and community heal. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that judges must look at how Indigenous offenders’ lives have been affected by colonialism and systemic racism and must consider sentences other than jail to repair the harm a crime has done.

A Gladue report helps the judge take into account Gladue rights during sentencing or when setting bail. Legal aid lawyers can request funding for the production of these reports. For more information about legal aid Gladue reports, please contact us at gladue.coordinator@lss.bc.ca.

You can learn more about Gladue rights and Gladue reports on the Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC website and from our Gladue publications (scroll down to see them all).

Wrapping Our Ways Around Them

Wrapping Our Ways Around Them is a new plain language guidebook that focuses on how Aboriginal communities and parents can be involved in child welfare issues. It empowers communities to participate in the child protection process to keep children culturally connected and to help families heal.

The guidebook:

  • explains how Aboriginal communities and parents can be involved in child welfare decisions outside of court and at court;
  • outlines the child welfare process; and
  • defines an Aboriginal child and their human rights, including protecting their cultural identity.

Wrapping Our Ways Around Them is produced by the Nlaka’pamus Nation Tribal Council’s ShchEma-mee.tkt (Our Children) Project and is available online as a PDF.

Hot Off the Press: Gladue Report Guide
Gladue Report Guide

Aboriginal peoples have Gladue rights under the Criminal Code of Canada, as a result of their unique circumstances in Canada. This means when an Aboriginal person is before the court for a bail hearing or sentencing, the judge must apply Gladue principles and take into account the background factors that may have brought them there. The Aboriginal person can give the court information about themselves and their family history in a Gladue report to help the judge decide the best restorative justice option for them and their community.

Our plain language booklet Gladue Report Guide is a new publication to help Gladue report writers. The booklet explains the tasks involved and information required to prepare and write an effective Gladue report to help the Aboriginal person before the court receive fair treatment.

The Gladue Report Guide is one of five new LSS Aboriginal publications about Gladue rights and First Nations Court. The others are Your Gladue Rights, Gladue Rights at Bail and Sentencing, Gladue Submission Guide, and What’s First Nations Court?

To find out more about Gladue rights, see the Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC website.

Hot off the Press: A Guide to Aboriginal Harvesting Rights
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We’ve produced a new and expanded edition of our booklet A Guide to Aboriginal Harvesting Rights. This guide is for Aboriginal people who want to understand their harvesting rights — the right to fish, hunt, and trap, and gather plants, fungi, and timber. The booklet explains in plain language:

  • Aboriginal rights protected under the Constitution, and how they translate to harvesting rights in BC,
  • Métis harvesting rights, including how to get a Métis harvester card,
  • treaty rights,
  • tips for harvesting outside your traditional territory,
  • what to do if you’ve been charged with hunting or fishing illegally,
  • how to get legal help, and
  • the court process.

What’s new in this edition?

  • A checklist of things to confirm before you go harvesting and what to bring with you
  • More examples of what’s considered a harvesting offence, how to reduce your chances of being charged, and when it’s a good idea to get a licence or permit
  • Harvesting restrictions based on conservation, public health, and public safety reasons
  • Whether you can trade, barter, or sell harvest
  • What to do if you want to fish outside your Nation’s communal licence

A Guide to Aboriginal Harvesting Rights is available online and in print. The previous edition of this booklet is no longer current; please recycle.

Hot off the Press - Your Gladue Rights

We just reprinted the plain language booklet Your Gladue Rights with minor revisions. If you have copies of the March 2017 edition, please recycle them because they’re no longer legally accurate. People who identify as Aboriginal have Gladue rights under the Criminal Code as a result of their circumstances (experiences) in Canada. The word Gladue comes from a Supreme Court of Canada case about an Aboriginal woman named Jamie Gladue. In her case, the judge said that the criminal justice system failed Aboriginal people and too many Aboriginal people were being sent to jail. As a result, judges must consider an Aboriginal person’s background as well as the history of Aboriginal people in Canada when Aboriginal people are in court for bail, sentencing, or appeals.

Your Gladue Rights explains:

  • Gladue and how it’s applied in court,
  • restorative justice,
  • the history of Gladue, and
  • the difference between written Gladue reports and oral Gladue submissions.

For more information about Aboriginal legal rights, see our Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC website.

Hot off the Press – Gladue Submission Guide
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People who identify as Aboriginal have Gladue rights under the Criminal Code of Canada as a result of their unique circumstances in Canada. This means that when an Aboriginal person is being sentenced, the judge must apply Gladue principles and take into account the factors that may have brought that person before the court. The Aboriginal person can give the court information about themselves and their family history in a Gladue submission to help the judge decide the best sentence for them and their community. Our plain language booklet, Gladue Submission Guide, is a new resource to help Aboriginal peoples, lawyers, Native courtworkers, and advocates to prepare a Gladue submission for court.

The booklet explains Gladue rights, what happens at a bail or sentencing hearing, and what’s in a Gladue submission. It includes a Gladue factors checklist and a worksheet to gather the information needed to prepare a submission. In the worksheet, the Aboriginal person can give details about the Gladue factors that shaped their life and the restorative justice options that may help them address the issues that brought them before the court.

The Gladue Submission Guide is one of four new LSS Aboriginal publications about Gladue rights and First Nations Court this year. The other three are Your Gladue Rights, Gladue Rights at Bail and Sentencing, and What’s First Nations Court?

To find out more about Gladue rights, see the Aboriginal website.

Cknúcwentn First Nations Court: Heartwarming and Effective
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Rhaea Bailey is the manager of our Indigenous Services department. Earlier this spring she visited the Cknúcwentn First Nations Court in Kamloops.

When I walked through the doors of Cknúcwentn I was greeted with the sweet scent of sage. An Elder was smudging anyone who was interested and I took advantage — it creates a feeling of calm and strength within me. Cknúcwentn (Can-nuck-when-tin) is a Secwepemc (Shuswap) word that means the place where help is given. It’s the perfect name for a First Nations court.

First Nations courts are sentencing courts. Cknúcwentn was born out of the desire of judges to be able to address the root causes of why people were offending. If you choose to go to a First Nations court you have to plead guilty. The judge, Crown counsel, Elders, and family work with the accused and their lawyer to create a healing plan — a plan to address the root causes of the crime and help the accused, the community, and the victim move on.

What I witnessed over the course of the day was restorative justice truly at work. Both the accused and the community had a voice in the courtroom. In fact, the accused was called upon to answer difficult questions and account for their actions, as well as set out their hopes for the future. It was an environment where the accused was given an opportunity to receive advice, which not only included words of warning, but also words of love and encouragement.

In a First Nations Court, people are humanized and given an opportunity to do better. I observed firsthand the effectiveness of the court when I watched a blanket ceremony at the end of the day. Two people had turned their lives around and were acknowledged by the whole court when the judge, lawyers, and Elders surrounded the two in a circle and wrapped a beautiful blanket around them while congratulating them on the successful completion of their sentence and healing plans.

The pride and accomplishment that radiated from each person touched me, and, at times, I couldn’t hold back my tears.

I believe the success of this court is rooted in its cultural approach and the great people involved, as well as the requirement that the accused return each month to report on their progress.

First Nations Courts are available in Kamloops, North Vancouver, New Westminster and Duncan. You can learn more on the Aboriginal Law in BC website.

Hot off the press: Aboriginal Child Protection Process (flow chart)
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We’ve revised and reprinted the Aboriginal Child Protection Process flow chart. This poster is a helpful tool for advocates and community workers working with Aboriginal families navigating the child protection process. It gives a step-by-step overview of the Aboriginal child protection process and reminds families that they have the right to get legal advice. The poster also shows:

  • at what stages in the process the Ministry of Children and Family Development (or delegated Aboriginal agency) must notify a child’s Aboriginal community, and
  • gives information about how a mediator can help families during the child protection process.

We’ve updated this poster to include other legal options if a child is under a continuing custody order.

Order copies of this poster from Crown Publications or download the PDF.

Hot off the press: Income Assistance on Reserve in British Columbia
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With input and financial assistance from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, we’ve revised and updated Income Assistance on Reserve in British Columbia (formerly called Social Assistance on Reserve in British Columbia). The new edition was updated to reflect new policies and rates for income assistance. The booklet explains in plain language:

  • who can get income assistance on reserve,
  • what benefits are available,
  • how to apply for income assistance on reserve,
  • your rights and responsibilities while on benefits, and
  • how to appeal a decision about your benefits.

Thanks to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada for funding towards the printing of this booklet.

You can now order the print version of Income Assistance on Reserve in British Columbia and also read it online.

Hot Off the Press: New Aboriginal publications about Gladue rights and First Nations Court

We’ve just released three new Aboriginal publications about Gladue rights and First Nations Court in print and online, and two more will be coming later this year. People who identify as Aboriginal have Gladue rights under the Criminal Code as a result of their circumstances (experiences) in Canada. The word Gladue comes from a Supreme Court of Canada case about an Aboriginal woman named Jamie Gladue. In her case, the judge said that the criminal justice system failed Aboriginal people and too many Aboriginal people were being sent to jail. As a result, judges must consider an Aboriginal person’s background as well as the history of Aboriginal people in Canada when Aboriginal people are in court for bail, sentencing, or appeals.

To learn more about Gladue rights and First Nations Court, check out these new publications!

Your Gladue Rights

Aboriginal peoples have rights under the Criminal Code of Canada called Gladue rights. This brief, plain language booklet explains:

  • Gladue and how it’s applied in court,
  • restorative justice,
  • the history of Gladue, and
  • the difference between written Gladue reports and oral Gladue submissions.

What’s First Nations Court?

This fact sheet for Aboriginal peoples explains restorative justice at First Nations Court, how to get into First Nations Court, where they’re located, and what a healing plan is.

Gladue Rights at Bail and Sentencing

This infographic poster shows when Gladue is applied at bail and sentencing hearings, and when to get a Gladue report or prepare a Gladue submission.

Coming soon:

Gladue Submission Guide

Gladue Report Guide

Hot off the press: Emily’s Choice: A Child Protection Story

We’re telling another story. We got such positive feedback on Clear Skies, our 2015 graphic novel and video about family violence, that we’ve addressed intermediaries’ requests for one on child protection. Emily’s Choice is the result (trailer below).

Developed once again by LSS and the Healthy Aboriginal Network, Emily’s Choice uses storytelling and images to tell the story of Emily and her son, Greg. After Greg goes into foster care, Emily has to make some changes. With support from her brother, lawyer, and social worker and by learning about her legal options, Emily gets Greg back.

Watch the full video and visit the Emily’s Choice webpage, which provides additional information and links about child protection in the context of Emily’s story. Order FREE books and promotional posters from Crown Publications.

Please help us spread the word about Emily’s Choice by putting the poster up and sharing the video link and other information on your Facebook or Twitter. Share with organizations, friends or family, or anyone else who would benefit from knowing more about this child protection resource.

Questions, feedback, or need help with ordering? Email distribution@lss.bc.ca or call 604-601-6054.

Clear Skies in Haida Gwaii
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One of the biggest advantages of our community partner program is that we get to hear from people across the province. BC is big and diverse and what works for a city of 100,000 people two hours from Seattle might not work for a community of 5,000 people two hours from Whitehorse. That’s a sentiment our community partners often, rightly, remind us of. Last year we decided to try something different; we developed a comic book (and video) called Clear Skies. It was a new approach for us, one that focused on using a story to explain the law. We hoped that as readers learned about Marnie and her kids and how they dealt with family violence, readers would also learn about the law.

This approach resonated with a lot of people, including Elizabeth, a literacy outreach worker and our community partner in Haida Gwaii. (Credit where credit is due: Elizabeth told us we should make comic books a while before we actually did.) When Clear Skies came out, Elizabeth went above and beyond.

One of the reasons Clear Skies resonates with people is because it tells a story they recognize. Elizabeth used that as a springboard, hosting a discussion group where people gathered to watch Clear Skies and talk about how it reflected their experiences. On a beautiful sunny evening, a group of 18 people (including educators, victim services workers, and people who help children who have witnessed abuse) sat down for a frank discussion about abuse.

The feedback from the session was great. People thought that the comic accurately represented family violence and humanized an intimidating process. That’s great to hear and what we were aiming for. What’s more important, though, is that we got to hear this feedback. An opportunity like this is hard for us to organize from our Vancouver office; even if we could get the same people to come out, we wouldn’t have the same rapport as someone from the community. That personal connection really makes a difference.

Thank you to Elizabeth for taking the initiative and setting this up. We hope we’ll have the opportunity to help with more sessions like this in the future.

Clear Skies wins Apex Award!
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We’re happy to share that Clear Skies has won an Apex Award! The Apex Awards is a world-wide competition for publication excellence. Clear Skies is a different approach to talking about the law for us. This graphic novel uses an engaging story and striking imagery to tell the story of Marnie and her kids, who live with family violence. With the support of her community, and by learning her legal options, Marnie leaves an abusive relationship. Clear Skies shows the human side of the legal process.

Clear Skies was a joint project with the Healthy Aboriginal Network. It recently won a Communicator Award as well. Congratulations and thanks go out to the entire team that made this project a reality!

Hot Off the Press — Understanding the Extended Family Program

We've reprinted our fact sheet, Understanding the Extended Family Program, with minor revisions. This fact sheet explains in plain language what parents' options are through the Extended Family Program if they're temporarily unable to take care of their children. Under the program, parents can arrange to have family or friends take care of their children instead of putting their children into foster care.

We need your feedback on our harvesting rights publications
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We’re looking for feedback from community workers across BC who use our harvesting rights publications, A Guide to Aboriginal Harvesting Rights: Fishing, Hunting, Gathering and Aboriginal Harvesting Rights: If You’ve Been Charged with a Harvesting Offence. We’ve created a short survey to gather your feedback so that we can work to make them better. If you’ve used these publications as part of your work, please take a few minutes to complete the survey here.

The survey will be open from August 17 – 31.

Hot off the Press: Clear Skies
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Co-produced with the Healthy Aboriginal Network (HAN), Clear Skies is an innovative new approach to teaching the public about the law. This comic book uses an engaging story and striking imagery to tell the story of Marnie and her kids, who live with family violence. With the support of her community, and by learning her legal options, Marnie is able to leave an abusive relationship. Clear Skies speaks to Aboriginal youth and brings a human face to the legal process. During the development stage, Aboriginal youth asked LSS and HAN to create a video version of the comic book. View the video on the Clear Skies page on the Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC website. This webpage also lists resources and contacts to help people experiencing family violence.

Clear Skies is available online and in print.