CALGARY -- The Calgary Indigenous Court opened in September 2019 and Legal Aid lawyers are still looking for ways to guide First Nations people through the process.

One of the biggest obstacles they've encountered is First Nations people's fear and lack of trust in the legal system.

“When we say it's a healing court, they need to take responsibility for the offence that happened,” says Jessica Buffalo, Duty Council for the Calgary Indigenous Court. “We understand that there are a lot of issues that get them there before the court, (things like) addiction, poverty, (and) mental health issues. The case management table that sits at the court helps address those issues, so it's not ongoing and (hopefully) they don’t find themselves in front of the court again.”

Jessica Buffalo

These types of specialized courts are better for the justice system because they can address the root issue through an approach rooted in compassion and empathy.

“If someone is a repeat offender, they are always in front of the court system, (so) we look at why,” said Buffalo. “Why don’t we get them set up with supports so this doesn’t happen again?”

Buffalo's hope is that clients that go through the program will have a healing plan that will be with them for the rest of their life or until they are healed.