A new community justice centre has been set up in Nunavik, the Inuit region of northern Quebec, and was officially opened by Quebec’s Justice Minister Sonia LeBel on Friday.
The centre is based in Inukjuak, a village of around 1700 people on the Hudson Bay coast.
The centre will offer free services, including legal information and referral services.
“The creation of a community justice centre in Nunavik will significantly increase access to legal information for the northern population, using plain language adapted to real-life situations,” LeBel said in a news release.
“By supporting this project, which was developed and implemented with the constant involvement of our Inuit partners, the Québec government is improving access to justice for all justice system users, wherever they are located in Québec.”
The new centre will be administered by Makivik Corporation, which represents the political interests of Inuit from northern Quebec.
On Friday, the organization said they hope the new centre will help contribute to better informing the Inuit population of Nunavik about their legal rights.
“Makivik Corporation has established the Nunavik Community Justice Center to give Inuit in Nunavik access to relevant legal information,” Makivik President Charlie Watt said in a news release.
“The mission of the centre, based in Inukjuak, will include informing and supporting the Nunavimmiut about their rights and responsibilities. We hope that the information and support services provided by the centre in the area of notarial law, along with the travelling legal clinics, will improve access to justice for the Nunavik population.
“Makivik Corporation continues its work to promote justice by and for Inuit.”
Nunavik, a region with a population of around 13,000 people, is made up of 14 communities.
They are served by an itinerant court from southern Quebec that visits communities an average of two to four times a year depending on the weather.
There have been numerous reports issued over the last 20 years denouncing the inadequacy of the Quebec justice system in serving the Inuit of Nunavik, including everything from language problems to rights violations such as bail hearings have been delayed beyond the three-day Canadian maximum after arrest.
The creation of community justice centres is part of a 2015-2020 plan from the Quebec justice ministry. Besides Nunavik, centres have been set up in several other regions of the province.
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca
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