Access to Justice on the Agenda for CBA President Janet Fuhrer’s visit to Whitehorse, Feb. 24-26

  • February 22, 2016

WHITEHORSE – The President of the Canadian Bar Association, Janet Fuhrer of Ottawa, will visit CBA-Yukon (CBA-Y) in Whitehorse from Feb.24 to 26, where she will speak to lawyers about improving access to justice issues, particularly as they affect Indigenous people.

"The CBA is acutely aware of the inequities faced by persons with disabilities when it comes to over-incarceration and failure to comply with Supreme Court of Canada’s direction in Gladue that says aboriginality must be taken into account in sentencing,” says CBA President Janet Fuhrer. 

"The injustice of using incarceration to deal with people with mental illnesses and FASD is also a pressing CBA concern, and one that has particular resonance in the Yukon,” adds Janet Fuhrer.

The president appreciates the ongoing efforts by colleagues at CBA-Y to advocate on behalf of these issues. She praises the efforts of Melissa Atkinson of Whitehorse, who has been outspoken on these subjects for many years.

"There are huge gaps in services for Aboriginal people in the justice system,” says Melissa Atkinson. “The current lack of funding to prepare Gladue reports in sentencing is particularly glaring in this part of the country.

Ms. Atkinson also notes that there is a great deal of interest in Yukon for the national inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, which has begun hearing from families. The CBA has also called for an inquiry and lauds the federal government’s decision to move ahead on this front.

This is a systemic problem that calls for a comprehensive response to be effectively and appropriately addressed to avoid more senseless tragedies,” adds Ms. Atkinson.

Access to justice issues have long been a priority for the CBA. The CBA is currently working to advance many of the targets contained in its watershed report Reaching Equal Justice, released in 2013, and urging others in the justice system to also take action.

The report notes that unresolved legal problems grow and spread to other areas of life including health, relationships and employment. “These problems are particularly relevant to Indigenous people, both in terms of civil legal problems linked to poverty and disadvantage, and to the impact of criminal law,” says Ms. Atkinson.

Janet Fuhrer and Melissa Atkinson are available for media interviews in Whitehorse on Thursday, February 25th. Please contact Laura Davidson Executive Director, CBA-Y for scheduling.

The CBA is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 36,000 lawyers, notaries in Quebec, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.