With a backlog of court cases caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Juries Commission (CJC) says its hoping to encourage more Indigenous people to answer the call for jury duty once courts open.
Mark Farrant, founder and CEO of the CJC says it’s crucial Indigenous people take part in the justice system.
“As courthouses across the country close cases were delayed and backlogged so there are thousands and thousands of cases across Canada that are delayed until the social distancing and emergency measures dissipate,” he said. “And courts begin to resume… thousands of jury summons will be issued across the country once those cases start to resume.”
Law student Andre Bear who sits on the board for both the CJC and the Indigeous Bar Association says when jury duty starts, it’s time Indigenous people step.
“I feel there’s an enormous responsibility for Indigenous people to use jury duty as a way to ensure our voices are heard,” said Bear. “That indigenous people are represented in the justice system in a positive way.”
Bear said for Indigenous people to be on juries is an important way to change the system.
“The acquittal of Gerald Stanley where an all white jury had acquitted him we don’t want to see a repeat of that not just for this case but the cases coming,” he said.”