The Saskatchewan Legal Aid Commission (SLAC) expresses its commitment towards reconciliation with First Nations communities in Saskatchewan and to actively work towards the objectives found in the TRC Calls to Action, specifically those that relate to child welfare, overrepresentation in the criminal justice system, and clients living with FASD, which align with our mandate to provide accessible and professional legal services in criminal and family law (which includes child and family services) to eligible residents of Saskatchewan.
TRC Call to Action #1: Call upon all levels of government to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in care.
SLAC, a Commission of the Government of Saskatchewan, commits to building relationships with First Nations’ communities, First Nations’ child and family services agencies, and the Ministry of Social Services to ensure that Legal Aid services are provided and delivered in culturally appropriate ways.
We will engage in ongoing conversations with First Nations’ leaders in child protection to better understand the needs of their People and how Legal Aid lawyers can provide services in a way that supports the Implementation of Bill C-92 in First Nations communities, and to continue to support First Nations People who are engaged with the Ministry of Social Services, child and family services processes.
We will advocate in Court proceedings for culturally appropriate responses for First Nations’ parents and children, including building standards of practice such as the use of Opikinawasowin (OPIK’S) in child protection proceedings where appropriate; and connect with the judicial committee on First Nations’ child and family services.
We will ensure our staff receive culturally appropriate training on issues of child and family services specific to First Nations’ People and Bill C-92.
TRC Call to Action #30: Call upon all levels of government to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody over the next decade, and to monitor and evaluate the progress in doing so.
SLAC commits to developing a strategy for the provision of services to First Nations’ People that will include developing staff cultural competencies; advocacy and appellate strategies for culturally appropriate outcomes that reduce the number of people detained and remanded into custody, and the number of custodial sentences.
TRC Call to Action #31: Call upon all levels of government to provide sufficient and stable funding to implement and evaluate community sanctions that will provide realistic alternatives to imprisonment for Aboriginal offenders and respond to the underlying causes of offending.
SLAC commits to working with our First Nations partners to advocate for early intervention, alternative measures, rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, and meaningful community supports.
TRC Call to Action #32: Call upon the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to allow trial judges, upon giving reasons, to depart from mandatory minimum sentences and restrictions on the use of conditional sentences.
SLAC commits to including in its Indigenous services strategy, a law reform strategy to advocate for the departure from minimum standards and the appropriate use of conditional sentences for our First Nations clients.
TRC Call to Action #33: Call upon all levels of government to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
SLAC commits to ensuring that all staff are trained to identify clients who might be living with FASD, as well as provide training for working with clients with FASD in culturally competent ways.
We will partner with FASD agencies to ensure proper diagnoses and supports are in place when advocating for exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences; and when proposing alternative measures.