The Combined Courtworker Program

at The Ininew Friendship Centre

A Program of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.


Angela Ellis-Girard


Call 705-272-4497 Extension #223







Family Law Information Centres

Family Law Information Centres (FLICs) assist in the individual needs of clients, particularly clients who are not represented by a lawyer and are entering the court system for the first time.

What kind of help can I get at the FLIC?

FLIC staff can;

* Help you understand the court process

* Provide you with court forms

* Explain how to get your own lawyer

* Answer your general questions

* Refer you to services and resources in your community

* Explain how other government agencies can help you

Can I get legal advice?

An Advice Lawyer from Legal Aid Ontario is available at the FLIC at certain times. An Advice Lawyer can:

* Give you general legal information on family law matters free of charge

* In certain circumstances, may be able to give you legal advice specific to your case.

The Justice System Can Be Confusing

When a person is accused of a crime, or they are dealing with family issues in a court, the system of courts and legal procedures that they must go through is very complicated, and can be a confusing and frightening experience.

This can be especially true for Aboriginal people whose language and cultural differences make the Criminal and Family Justice systems particularly difficult to understand.

In Ontario, the Combined Courtworker Program is available to provide assistance to all Indigenous people who are in contact with the legal system, whether they are Status, Non-Status or Metis.

Throughout the years that the program has been in operation, Courtworkers have helped many thousands of Indigenous people to receive fairer treatment from the legal system and to gain a better understanding of their rights and obligations under the system.

The high standards of professional service offered by the Courtworkers have also earned them the respect of the courts and of law enforcement officials.

If you, a friend, or a relative have a problem with the law, we can inform you of some of the ways that a Courtworker can help.


Courtworker Services Available

Courtworkers provide services to all Indigenous people who require them, in strict confidentiality.

  • Courtworkers can assist Indigenous individuals by acting as a liaison between the individual and the court

  • Courtworkers can explain to the individual the reasons for the arrest, and their legal rights and responsibilities regarding the charges against them.

  • Courtworkers can inform accused individuals of their rights, and help fill out applications for Legal Aid if the accused can't afford a lawyer.

  • Courtworkers can work with officials of the court to ensure that an individual receives fair treatment.

  • Courtworkers can obtain the services of Indigenous language interpreters when needed, and Indigenous cultural interpreters when it has a bearing on the case.

  • Courtworkers can explain to an accused the meaning of decisions that the court may make regarding their detention before trial or release on bail, and explain any conditions imposed on their release.

  • Courtworkers can help prepare Pre-Sentence Reports to ensure that the background of a convicted Indigenous individual is properly presented.

  • Courtworkers can explain to a person placed on probation what this means and what is expected of them.

  • Courtworkers can work with community agencies to help the accused meet their immediate and long-term needs and goals.

  • Courtworkers can make contact with the area Inmate Liaison Worker if the accused is sentenced to a provincial institution.

  • Courtworkers can visit inmates in the jails and penitentiaries in their area to provide information and moral support.

  • Courtworkers can explain to either party the procedures of Family Court.

  • Courtworkers can work with parents or families in the case of a child apprehension by CAS, to ensure that all proper steps are taken to protect the child and if possible to reunite the family.

Although Courtworkers know about the law and the justice system, they are not lawyers.

Although most Courtworkers speak at least one Indigenous language, they are not interpreters for the court.

Courtworkers do not supervise bail or probation, but they will make sure the accused understands exactly what the conditions mean.


The Courtworker and the Community

The main job of Courtworkers is to help Indigenous people in contact with the law. However, they also play an important and expanding role in their communities.

The OFIFC and the Courtworker Program

The Aboriginal Courtworker Program is available through Friendship Centres across the province.

The provincial program is administered by the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) with funds provided jointly by the Federal Department of Justice, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.

The OFIFC ensures the smooth operation and development of the overall program by regularly checking its effectiveness, identifying needs in the program, providing training, and being available to assist in day-to-day problem solving.

Since the Courtworkers began to attend courts in Ontario in the mid-1960's, the program has developed to a point where it has now earned the respect of the police, the courts, other related angencies and the federal and provincial governments.

More importantly, however, is that the Combined Courtwork Program has earned the gratitude of the many Indigenous people who have been helped through difficult times by the patient dedication of a Combined Courtworker.

Phone; 705-272-4497 Ext. #223    Fax; 705-272-3597


Copyright 2008 Ininew Friendship Centre