Celebrations recognize 20 years since Provincial Courthouse opened its doors
Legal Aid Alberta (LAA) is committed to educating and informing the public about their rights under the law and the importance of appropriate legal representation for all Albertans.
Representatives from LAA, including John Panusa, President and CEO, and Tyler Tollefson, Vice-President of Legal Representation and General Counsel, were in attendance at Siksika Law Day on June 27.As co-hosts of the event with Siksika Justice Department and the Gleichen RCMP detachment, LAA was proud to be in attendance as it was a special day for the First Nations community. This year marks the 20th anniversary of court services being available in the community, with the opening of the provincial courthouse in 1998.
Legal Aid Alberta at Siksika Nation is a joint program of the Siksika Justice Department and Legal Aid Alberta that provides Siksika Nation members (primarily) with a wide range of high quality legal services. Assistance and support is available in criminal matters, family law and child welfare matters, as well as advice on a variety of civil law issues. Many services are provided right in the LAA office in the Siksika Nation Tribal Administration Building, and, when appropriate, applications can also be completed for full legal representation there.
“The partnership LAA has with the community is an example of the collaborative effort to ensure members of Siksika Nation have a wide range of high quality, effective legal services,” said Panusa. “We all need to play a role in moving forward with reconciliation, and we are focused on improving our services with an Indigenous perspective and respect for traditional culture and values in mind.”
That is why Legal Aid Alberta continues working to improve services to Indigenous Albertans by providing Indigenous awareness and cultural training to all LAA staff. To date, approximately 150 roster lawyers have taken the training in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge.
Tollefson explains Legal Aid Alberta continues to seek out opportunities to establish on reserve services in a number of Indigenous communities across Alberta to ensure we are doing everything we can to provide access to justice in the most effective and appropriate way possible.
“We believe what we have accomplished here should be shared with others, and what we all have built here together in Siksika can be used as model to work with and help other First Nations and Metis Settlements achieve better access to legal services during difficult times in their lives,” he said.
Legal Aid Alberta would like to thank Siksika Nation and Gleichen RCMP for their efforts in making Siksika Law Day 2018 a resounding success.