Importance of Indigenous Language in the Justice System

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The importance of language in the justice system cannot be understated. The integrity of the system depends on a clear understanding of the rules and processes by the parties involved. For Indigenous Peoples to have a fair and just treatment requires that they understand the rules, the processes and the fundamental principles of justice in another language. While the integration of Gladue reporting and other remedial measures can help move the marker closer to the goal of fair and just treatment of Indigenous defendants, much remains to be done to get us there.
The over-representation of Indigenous Peoples in the legal and correctional systems continues to go beyond what then Minister Allan Rock called a National crisis 25 years ago, and Dr. Ivan Zinger reported on last year as having more than doubled.

Donald Nicholls is the Director of the Cree Nation Government Department of Justice and Correctional Services since 2009.
Prior to becoming Director, Mr. Nicholls was the Interim Director where he assisted with preparatory work for the establishment of the Department, and was an inaugural Member of the Cree-Quebec Judicial Advisory Committee when established in 2007. Mr. Nicholls stepped down from the Committee to become Director, and instead work closely with the Committee and CNG. Previously, from 2005-2009, Mr. Nicholls worked as Political Attaché with the Executive Office of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government.
Mr. Nicholls comes from a strong background in law and Indigenous issues, having served as the first Coordinator of Justice for the Cree Nation Government, worked with tribal courts, worked on Indigenous cases at mechanisms in the United Nations, Organization of American States, NAFTA, and in domestic court systems in Latin and North America.

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