Ontario has established a new Elders Council that will provide advice to the Attorney General to make the justice system more responsive to the needs of Indigenous people and support the reclamation of Indigenous legal systems.
The new council reflects a commitment made by the province in The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and will incorporate the advice of Elders into government decision-making on matters related to Indigenous peoples in the justice system.
The council includes 13 respected Indigenous Elders from diverse communities across the province:
Barney Batise – A Nishnawbe Aski Nation Elder and former Chief of Matachewan First Nation
Katsi Cook – Mohawk, of the Wolf Clan, Mohawks of Akwesasne
Helen Cromarty – Of Cree ancestry, a member of Sachigo Lake First Nation and a residential school survivor
Donna Debassige – Anishinaabe kwe, of the Fish Clan from Mnidoo Mnising (Manitoulin Island), and a member of the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve
Albert Dumont – Born and raised in traditional Algonquin territory (Kitigan Zibi)
Alex Jacobs – Born at Lake Penage on the Whitefish Lake First Nation Community
Janice Longboat – Mohawk, Turtle Clan of Six Nations of the Grand River
Marlene Pierre – An Ojibwe of the Fort William First Nation, born and raised in the city of Thunder Bay
Verna Porter-Burnelle – Citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario
David Serkoak – Born in the northern tip of Nueltin Lake, Nunavut
Pauline Shirt – Born and raised in Saddle Lake Reserve, Alberta, residing in Toronto
Gilbert Smith – Naicatchewenin First Nation near Fort Frances, Ontario
Sally Webster – Born on the land near Baker Lake, Nunavut, now living in Ottawa
Creating a culturally relevant and responsive justice system is one of many steps on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.