February 26, 2013
In the area around Kenora, Ont., fewer than 10 per cent of potential jurors are natives living on reserve, even though they make up roughly 35 per cent of the population. The figure for the district around Thunder Bay is similarly disproportionate.
Overrepresented in prison and underrepresented on juries, the situation facing aboriginal people in Northern Ontario represents a crisis in Ontario’s justice system, according to a major report issued by retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci Tuesday.
"Access to justice, the administration of justice, the availability and quality of legal services, the treatment of first nations peoples in the justice system all are wanting," Mr. Iacobucci said. "What has become abundantly clear to me is that the justice system as it relates to first nations is currently in a crisis, particularly in Northern Ontario."
Mr. Iacobucci was asked by the provincial government in 2011 to look into the lack of first nations representation on jury rolls. But the issues facing aboriginals in the justice system go well beyond jury representation and it would be foolish to think they’re not connected, he concluded.
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