The Provincial Court has also established a First Nations Court in New Westminster presided over by The Honourable Judge Marion Buller Bennett. Aboriginal justice is meant to go beyond the current Euro-Canadian form of justice and take an approach that focuses on First Nations concepts such as social harmony, dispute resolution, peace-making and healing.
The First Nations Court provides a holistic and restorative approach to sentencing, incorporating Aboriginal practices. The court has the benefit of hearing about an offender’s education, employment history, past criminal history, as well as information about the offender’s extended family, his or her current needs for housing and health services, the availability of community- based resources and the views of the community toward the offence. If there is a Family or Youth Court file, or a related matter, those issues are heard at the same time as the criminal matter. Recently, for the first time in BC history, the court sat in the community at the invitation of an Aboriginal community. A special ceremony was held to recognize the significance of this occasion.