Edmonton Indigenous Court
The Edmonton Indigenous Court (EIC) was established in 2022 to provide a culturally relevant, restorative, and holistic system of justice for Indigenous individuals, including offenders, victims and the community harmed by an offender’s actions. The EIC is a response to the unique challenges and circumstances of the Indigenous people. It seeks to address the issue of overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system and is a step forward in implementing recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as well as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls National Inquiry (MMIWG) Report.
This court has been a collaboration between the judiciary, Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA), Yellowhead Tribal Council, Court Services, Legal Aid, Indigenous Defence Bar, Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and Indigenous community service providers. The court also received support from Edmonton Police Service, Community Corrections and Probation. The EIC has been established using best practices learned from the successful Calgary Indigenous Court.
The EIC focuses on a restorative justice approach to crime through peacemaking and connecting accused people to their cultures and communities. When an offender is sentenced to probation, a Healing Plan specific to the offender may be included in the probation order. Healing Plans use identified Indigenous community support agencies to assist in reintegrating offenders into the community, and, where appropriate, also encourage offenders to learn about and reconnect with their Indigenous heritage. A ceremony may be held in the EIC to acknowledge the successful completion of a probation order and the Healing Plan.
The EIC sits every Thursday beginning at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 358 of the Edmonton Courts Centre. The courtroom has been redesigned to hold a large oval table where all the participants will sit, including the Judge, at one level. Court with a prayer and a smudge.
The EIC utilizes dedicated Judges who are either Indigenous or experienced in Indigenous Restorative Justice, a designated Indigenous Crown Prosecutor, designated duty counsel and Indigenous Legal Counsel, Restorative Justice Peacemakers, Traditional Knowledge Keepers, Indigenous Court Workers and community support agencies.
The Edmonton Indigenous court is very cognizant of the Gladue and Ipeelee decisions and applies those cases, as well as section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code, in all matters that come before the Indigenous court, including dispositions that have a healing plan component and judicial release orders.