“The Native Courtworkers” program is a part of The Native Para-Judicial Services of Quebec that offers support services to help Indigenous people involved in the criminal justice system. These could be victims, witnesses, and accused in both the Adult and Juvenile courts. This program is to ensure Indigenous clientele receive equal, fair, and culturally appropriate treatment in all legal processes.
In the Mi’gmaq communities in Quebec, there are two Courtworkers and Gladue Writers: Donna Metallic in Listuguj, and Tina Condo-Martin in Gesgapegiag.
Metallic started this role in October 2016. She meets with community members and assists them in navigating the justice system. This could be several things, such as helping to obtain a lawyer, assisting them in the courtroom, helping clients undergo the Youth Protection process, or writing a Gladue report.
Gradue reports were developed in 1999 and are used only for Indigenous people. They were created to review historical, systemic, and individual factors that may have been contributors to an individual’s legal situation. It could include personal and/or family history, intergenerational traumas, criminal histories, and more. They are confidential, and not meant to be disclosed in a courtroom setting. They must be ordered by the court and may be requested for offenses in particular under the Criminal Code that lead to a prison sentence. “The courts want to see the whole dynamic of this individual. Where they’ve been, what they’ve suffered, any traumas or factors related to the crimes they’re being sentenced for,” said Metallic.
Courtworkers do not give legal advice, but they are available to help to understand legal processes. A lot of individuals do not know their rights or what resources are available. Metallic said, “We’re like a mentor for individuals and help them understand the Criminal Justice System and any other legal court system.” The nearest courthouse in our area is in New Carlisle, and for young offenders, Carleton Court is closest. Metallic will accompany individuals to their court dates and will offer them emotional support and guidance.
To get in contact with Donna Metallic, call 418-788-5455, or visit her office at 21 Riverside West, 2nd floor.
By Ann Marie Jacques