The Manitoba government has established an Indigenous Elders Advisory Council to provide guidance in addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system, Justice Minister Cameron Friesen announced Friday.
“Our government understands the urgent need to engage in conversations with Indigenous community leaders to face challenges like the overrepresentation of Indigenous people at all stages of the criminal justice system,” said Friesen. “In the spirit of reconciliation, I am pleased to announce the establishment of an Indigenous Elders Advisory Council, which will provide important knowledge and perspective to Manitoba Justice to be able to develop a framework for solutions to advance Indigenous people and communities in Manitoba.”
“We are grateful to the elders who make up the council for their guidance, commitment to the Indigenous community and willingness to support this work,” said Friesen.
The minister noted the new direction supports the province’s continued efforts to build strong, transparent and reciprocal relationships with Indigenous communities, and aligns with the whole-of-government objective of advancing reconciliation in Manitoba while building confidence in the justice system.
“Our government recognizes the critical importance of implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, as well as the 231 Calls for Justice made in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls,” said Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke. “We know that in order to achieve this, we must seek the knowledge and guidance of Indigenous people, and honour and heed the advice of elders.”
The Indigenous Elders Advisory Council is a grassroots, non-partisan group of community members that reflects the vast diversity in gender, language, nationhood and lived experience of Indigenous people in Manitoba.
The eight-member council, chaired by Manitoba Justice, seeks to “guide and enhance the work of the department with the Indigenous community through meaningful, respectful involvement and innovative solutions,” according to a news release.