Legal Counsel encouraged to learn that the City has chosen an alternate path to resolving complex legal issues effecting Indigenous and vulnerable citizens.
Lheidli T’enneh / Prince George , B.C. (March 24, 2022): Today the BC First Nations Justice Council acknowledges the public apology and withdrawal of Appeal in the City of Prince George v Stewart.
In the Fall of 2021, BCFNJC legal counsel at the Indigenous Justice Centre in Prince George, and the Prince George Community Legal Clinic were retained to represent the vulnerable citizens of Moccasin Flats and the Splits encampments (the “Respondents”) within the City boundaries. The Respondents had been served with a Petition filed by the City of Prince George seeking a statutory injunction to dismantle the two encampments where over 80 people had taken shelter out of necessity. It was estimated that 79% of the encampment residents were Indigenous.
Despite having successfully argued in the Respondents’ favour and the Court refusing to grant an injunction for the dismantling of Moccasin Flats, the City of Prince George dismantled portions of the encampment and at the same time appealed the decision.
“We are pleased that the City has withdrawn their Appeal and are no longer pursuing legal action against the vulnerable citizens of Prince George,” said Melanie Begalka, co-legal counsel for the Respondents. “While we are disappointed that the Court of Appeal will not have the opportunity to weigh in on the legal issues, we are encouraged that the City is going to be taking a different approach, one that hopefully respects the rights, humanity and dignity of people sheltering outside.”
“This was about to become a high-profile case,” added Darlene Kavka, co-legal counsel for the Respondents. “The Attorney General of BC, BC Civil Liberties Association, Pivot Legal Society and the BC Assembly of First Nations, had all been granted Intervenor status in this case. This would also have been a special sitting of the Court of Appeal held in the City of Prince George.”
BC First Nations Justice Council opened three Indigenous Justice Centers in 2020. Based on need, offices were opened in Prince Rupert, Prince George and Merritt, as well as a virtual office, to provide access to essential, valuable, free legal service to BC Indigenous people. Read more about the BC First Nations Justice Strategy.
ABOUT THE BCFNJC
The BC First Nations Justice Council has been entrusted with the mandate to transform the justice system and create better outcomes for Indigenous people through implementation of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy.
The strategy, signed March 06, 2020, was jointly developed by the BC First Nations Justice Council, BC First Nations communities and the Province of British Columbia. It includes 43 actions along two paths which involve the reformation of the current system as well as the restoration of First Nations’ legal traditions and structures.
BC First Nations Justice Council
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