Criminal Courtworkers are located in 13 locations and guide Indigenous adults and youth charged with a criminal offence to navigate the court process.
The Aboriginal Criminal Courtwork Program assists accused offenders to better understand their rights, options and responsibilities when appearing before the courts, through the guidance of a Courtworker. Indigenous Courtworkers are not Lawyers and do not give legal advice. They are Courtworkers and advocates who speak on a person’s behalf if they can’t or won’t speak for themselves while involved in the criminal justice system.
Assistance is provided in the following ways:
- Accompanying the Indigenous person to court;
- Ensuring the person understands their right to speak for themselves or retain legal counsel;
- Explanation of the charges and court orders against the accused;
- Explanation of the philosophy and process of the criminal justice system;
- Completion of an assessment and developing a plan of action to identify issues which brought the person before the court;
- Referrals to Friendship Centre programs and other Indigenous and non-Indigenous community services;
- Advocating for Indigenous people to be diverted outside of the court process and to address issues which brought them before the court;
- Responding to problems caused by communication barriers that exist between Indigenous people and those who are involved in the administration of the justice system;