Hazelton Indigenous Court

What is the Hazelton Indigenous Court?

The Hazelton Indigenous Court is a criminal sentencing court available to Indigenous individuals living in the Upper Skeena Region who have pled guilty to one or more crimes.

“[I]t’s important that we all learn each other’s laws as the Gitxsan and Aboriginal people have learned the Western laws. It’s a law that can’t be pushed aside. It’s got to be married to the Western laws and understood by all. We cannot live under one law of the non-native people. We have our law that needs to be learned by the non-native people. Having the two nations – the non-native and the Aboriginal people – learning each other’s laws… then things will work out.”

– Djogaslee (Ted Mowatt)

What Does the Hazelton Indigenous Court Do?

The Hazelton Indigenous Court offers participants an opportunity to sit before a judge and panel of Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Elders and share their story and the reason for their appearance before the Court. This provides two unique opportunities to the participants: to be heard and to engage with representatives from their father clan (or another chosen support) as witnesses to their healing plan and supporters in their restorative journey.

The Critical Role of Elders

Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Elders play a critical role at the Court. Their hours of volunteering poured into the development of participants’ healing plans ensure the success of participants’ healing process. These healing plans are designed by Elders and the participant to encourage personal and community healing, responding to the participants’ specific life barriers.

“[W]e’re glad to be able to work together as Elders in the court system and work with the judge and the counsel. It’s a big step toward reconciliation and we’re glad we’re able to work together.”

– Axwindesxw (Tony Morgan)

Why Was The Hazelton Indigenous Court Created?

Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Elders, together with community partners, embarked upon the establishment of the Hazelton Indigenous Court in response to the overrepresentation of incarcerated Indigenous individuals while centering Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en laws.

“The joining of the Ayookx with the court system and the provincial courts is only the beginning.”

– Wii Eeleast (Jim Angus)