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Esk’et creating intervention circle for people at risk of entering justice system

Community receives 66K boost from province
Esk’et Chief Fred Robbins. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Esk’et is launching an intervention circle to provide culturally appropriate supports for people at risk of entering the justice system and to help build a stronger, safer and healthier community.

The intervention circle, led by and for the Esk’et, is the first of its kind in B.C.

Intervention circles bring together community-based front-line service providers from the public safety, health and social service sectors.

They work collaboratively to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous people in the justice system by preventing crime, reducing harm and increasing community safety.

“It’s crucial that people have access to culturally sensitive supports when and where they need them,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

“Ensuring public safety and advancing meaningful, lasting reconciliation are interconnected. The Esk’etemc-led intervention circle will help people find culturally sensitive pathways to healing in their own community and prevent incarceration of Indigenous people.”

Community-centred intervention circles incorporate existing Indigenous social and cultural institutions. They provide ongoing monitoring, assist people at acute risk and connect vulnerable people with preventative supports.

“I see the challenges ahead; the next generation must know there is support and that the community is ready to provide services in a proactive manner to stop the cycle of intergenerational trauma,” said Kúkpi7 Fred Robbins.

“Information is power and giving the power back to the people who need support in a collaborative environment will provide the community with a full circle of support and help in healing together.”

The Province is providing $66,000 to support the implementation of the intervention circle, acting on the provincial government’s commitment to address the disproportionate number of Indigenous people involved in the justice system. Discussions are also underway with three other First Nations interested in creating intervention circles in their communities.

“The Esk’etemc First Nation’s intervention circle is a critical part of our work to support Indigenous-led solutions to address the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. “This intervention circle aligns with the aims of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy and is an innovative, holistic approach that will help Indigenous people connect to the culturally appropriate supports they need for generations to come.”

The intervention circle complements the Safer Communities Action Plan, which expands mental-health and addiction services, and connects people with the help they need.

The intervention circle also responds to recommendations from several reports, including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the BC First Nations Justice Strategy. As well, the intervention circle aligns with government’s commitments in the Declaration Act Action Plan, a roadmap for partnering with First Nations to achieve lasting reconciliation.

Quick Facts:

* Indigenous people make up five per cent of British Columbia’s population and account for 30 per cent of people in custody provincially.

* The BC First Nations Justice Strategy is designed by and for Indigenous Peoples to reform the colonial justice system and revitalize Indigenous legal practices.

* The BC First Nations Justice Strategy was endorsed by the Province and the BC First Nations Justice Council in 2020.

* The Declaration Act Action Plan, developed in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous Peoples, outlines 89 specific actions every ministry in government will take to create a better province for Indigenous Peoples in B.C.

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About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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