News release

Services For Victims of Crime To Be Offered in Mi'kmaq

A full-time victim services officer of Aboriginal descent and fluent in the Mi'kmaq language has been been hired for the new Victim Services Office in Eskasoni First Nation, Cape Breton.

Justice Minister and Attorney General Cecil Clarke joined Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Baker and Chief Charlie Joe Dennis in Eskasoni today, June 20, to celebrate the official launch of the two-year pilot project.

"This new office not only recognizes the cultural diversity of our province, it also makes the justice system accessible to more Nova Scotians," Mr. Clarke said.
"We want Aboriginal victims of crime to feel comfortable calling the police, coming to court, and preparing victim impact statements. Our new Mi'kmaw speaking officer will work closely with victims to give them closure, and help them provide police and justice officials with the information they need to ensure more convictions."

The $200,000 project is funded through a federal grant given to the Provincial Victim Services Program from the Policy Centre for Victim Issues, Department of Justice Canada.

The project is a collaboration between the Mi'kmaw Legal Support Network and Eskasoni Mental Health and Social Work Service.

The goal of the project is to address the unique needs of Aboriginal victims of crime, with a focus on the development of culturally supportive services including face to face meetings in their home communities. Eskasoni was chosen for the pilot as it is the largest First Nation community east of Montreal, with a population of about 3,800 residents.

"This position will bring a new dimension of support and participation of Aboriginal victims involved in the criminal justice system," said Paula Marshall, project manager for the Mi'kmaw Legal Support Network.

People who participate in the process will be given an Aboriginal -designed medal as a token of their strength and courage in testifying.

The new victim services officer will spend four days a week in the Eskasoni and Membertou First Nations communities, and one day a week in Sydney.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Aboriginal victims of crime are now able to access services in the Mi'kmaw language for the first time, thanks to a new victims services office administered by the Department of Justice.

The office is located in Eskasoni First Nation, Cape Breton, and for the next two years will be staffed by a full-time victim services officer of Aboriginal descent who is fluent in the Mi'kmaw language.

Justice Minister Cecil Clarke says this new office not only recognizes the cultural diversity of our province, it also makes the justice system accessible to more Nova Scotians.

-30-

Media Contact:

: Sherri Aikenhead
Department of Justice 902-456-6386 E-mail: