Aboriginal Criminal Courtwork Program
The ACCWP is funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG). The goal of the ACCWP is to assist Aboriginal accused to better understand their rights, options and responsibilities when appearing before the criminal courts. The main objectives of the program are: to facilitate and enhance access to justice; to ensure Aboriginal people involved in the criminal justice system, understand their rights, responsibilities and options; and to ensure that the individual receives fair and legal representation.
The Ontario Aboriginal Courtwork Program
When a person is accused of a crime, or they are dealing with family issues in court, the system can be complicated, confusing and even a frightening experience.
The criminal and family justice systems can be particularly difficult to understand due to language and cultural differences between Aboriginal people and the mainstream system.
In Ontario, the Aboriginal Courtworker Program is available to provide assistance to all Aboriginal people who are in contact with the legal system, whether they are Status, Non-Status, Metis or Inuit.
Aboriginal Courtworkers help their clients receive fair and equitable treatment from the legal system and assist clients in gaining a better understanding of their rights and obligations in the legal system.
Aboriginal Courtworker Services
A Courtworker will:
- Provide a variety of services to Aboriginal people who require support in family and criminal court
- Deliver services to all Aboriginal people in strict confidence
- Explain the procedures of criminal and family court
- Assist Aboriginal individuals by acting as a liaison
- Explain to the individual the reasons for their arrest, their legal rights and responsibilities and information regarding the charges they face
- Provide information about Legal Aid if the accused/family cannot afford a lawyer
- Obtain the services of Aboriginal language interpreters when needed, and Aboriginal cultural interpreters if it has bearing on the case
- Explain to clients the decisions that the court makes at various stages of their case
- May participate in preparation of a Pre-Sentence Report to ensure that the background of a convicted Aboriginal person is properly presented
- Explain to a person placed on bail and probation what this means and what is expected of them
- Work with community agencies to help the client/family meet their immediate and long-term needs and goals in relation to a court process
- Will make contact with the area Native Inmate Liaison Worker if the accused is sentenced to a provincial institution
- May visit Aboriginal inmates in jails and penitentiaries in their area to provide information and moral support
- Work with parents or families in the case of a child apprehension by CAS, to ensure that all proper steps are taken to protect the child and if possible to reunite the family
Courtworkers will not:
- Provide legal advice
- Act as a language interpreters for the court
- Supervise bail, probation or parole
The Aboriginal Courtworker and the Community
A Courtworker will:
- Conduct public education workshops for the Aboriginal community
- Participate in the community development of preventive programs, with an emphasis on youth to reduce the incidences of crime; and assist in the development and delivery of Aboriginal Community Justice programs
- Provide education to the judiciary to help them better understand the culture, needs and aspirations of Aboriginal people
Contact: Aboriginal Criminal Court Worker - 519-753-5408
Jennifer Wahlman – ext: 228
Aboriginal Combined Court Worker - 519-753-5408
Stewart Gideon – ext: 227
For more information please view the sites below: