VICTORIA, B.C. – Online supports and legal services are now available online for Indigenous people across British Columbia.
These supports and services are available through a new Virtual Indigenous Justice Centre (VIJC) and will make it easier to navigate the justice system, according to the Province.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen how expanding the use of technology across the justice sector makes it easier for people to access the services they need,” said David Eby, Attorney General.
“This VIJC will provide culturally appropriate supports to address the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in our criminal justice system, including remote communities across the province. It builds on the three physical locations already open and eliminates barriers that may prevent someone from attending a justice centre in person, including distance, concern about COVID-19 or just not being able to take the time away from family obligations.”
The VIJC is a partnership with the Province and the BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC), it will provide a range of assistance and supports to Indigenous peoples, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, who are otherwise not eligible and/or cannot access legal aid. This includes:
“Being able to quickly access legal advice and representation from anywhere in the province, especially for remote and rural areas that are typically underserved, is a key aspect of a fair justice system,” said Doug White, QC, chair of the BCFNJC.
“In many cases, this kind of legal access can be life-changing for not only individuals but their families and communities as well.”
The VIJC is staffed by three lawyers, a navigator, and a legal assistant. Individuals are able to access support and book an appointment with a free lawyer on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pacific time, by calling 1-866-786-0081 or emailing [email protected]. The lawyers will work to accommodate the individual’s schedule as best they can with some after-hours and weekend appointments available.
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