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Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

by Kaitlyn Hait, CRT Indigenous Law Summer Student

Taanishi, Kaitlyn Hait dishinihkaashoon! Hello, my name is Kaitlyn Hait! I am a proud member of Métis Nation BC and the Métis Kelowna Association. I’m going into my third year in the JD/JID Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders Law Degree at UVIC. This summer, I am working here at the CRT in the position of Indigenous Law Summer Student.

During my time at the CRT, I have been given the opportunity to help develop the CRT’s Reconcili(action) Plan, which will outline how the CRT will interact, support and reconcile with Indigenous peoples moving forward.

Indigenous peoples make up 5.5% of British Columbia’s population, with 70% being First Nation and 30% being Métis (source: Statistics Canada). However, Indigenous peoples are overrepresented in many areas of the legal system considering their population size. The CRT recognizes this systemic issue and the historic and present colonial experiences that Indigenous peoples continue to face. We are committed to addressing and removing systemic and procedural barriers within our processes.

To effectively address the needs of Indigenous participants, reflect Indigenous representation within our staff and tribunal members, and provide equitable opportunities for Indigenous participants, we are committed to developing and implementing our Reconcili(action) Plan.

This plan will outline over 35 actions, from big to small, that we will be implementing in the coming weeks, months and years. It is still in progress, but the first action we have done is launched a page on our website specifically for Indigenous participants. This page provides information about our Reconcili(action) Plan, as well as the resources which may help Indigenous participants with the CRT process.

Here are some actions that the CRT will be taking in its Reconcili(action) Plan:

  • A personal accountability statement from the CRT Chair, including committing to providing an update on progress in each Annual Report.
  • Hiring an Indigenous Law Summer Student – Summer 2020 and continuing
  • Implementing the Reconcili(action) Plan which will be a living document that adapts and is updated over time.
  • Prioritizing hiring Indigenous staff and tribunal members.
  • Providing mandatory training for all staff and full-time tribunal members in cultural competency, cultural humility, and trauma-informed practice – Completed 2017 and continuing
  • Including an option for participants to self-identify as Indigenous when beginning the CRT process – Completed August 2020 and continuing
  • Creating a CRT Navigator position, who will provide support and be the main contact for all self-identifying Indigenous participants – Completed August 2020 and continuing
  • Tracking the progress and results of implementing our actions and report on the findings in our Annual Report and quarterly blog posts.
  • Supporting the use of and revitalization of Indigenous laws, legal traditions and languages.
  • Adding an “Indigenous Participants” page to our website – Completed August 2020
  • Adding a territorial acknowledgement to the home page of our website – Completed August 2020
  • Updating our website to include photos of Indigenous peoples to provide proper representation.
  • Including territorial acknowledgements in oral hearings – Completed 2020
  • Strongly encouraging staff to include territorial acknowledgements on email signatures – Completed 2020
  • Providing Indigenous languages as interpretation options for participants – Completed 2016 and continuing
  • Actively decolonizing our language and communication – Initiated 2020 and continuing
  • Providing an opportunity to incorporate Indigenous legal traditions and principles into the CRT hearing process and recognize that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to resolving disputes.
  • Providing information specifically for Indigenous participants on navigating the CRT, including collecting evidence and what to expect during the process.
  • Working to identify the needs of Indigenous participants as they navigate the CRT dispute resolution process, to acknowledge the gaps in its training, staffing and representation, and to do the work to make these changes and be accountable for its actions.

As with all aspects of the CRT’s operations, the implementation of our Reconcili(action) Plan will be driven by the data and other feedback we collect with a focus on continuously improving our services to better serve the needs of participants.

If you have suggestions for additional actions, we can include in our Reconcili(action) Plan, please contact us.