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New community-led centre for Black Nova Scotians who interact with justice system

Click to play video: 'New community-led centre for Black Nova Scotians who interact with justice system' New community-led centre for Black Nova Scotians who interact with justice system
WATCH: The Nova Scotia government is funding the first African Nova Scotian Justice Institute. It will offer human rights and policing accountability, court support and legal defence for African Nova Scotians. Amber Fryday reports. – Jul 12, 2021

Nova Scotia is launching a community-led justice institute to support Black Nova Scotians who interact with the legal system.

Premier Iain Rankin and African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Tony Ince announced today a $4.8-million investment to create The African Nova Scotian Justice Institute.

Read more: ‘Troubling trends’ in Nova Scotia’s justice system for Black and Indigenous people

They say the institute is an initiative of the non-profit African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition, adding that the centre will include programs aimed at reducing the over-representation of Black citizens in the justice system.

The institute will be set up over the next year and run eight programs, including on race and cultural assessments for courts, data collection and policing accountability.

There will also be an African Nova Scotian court-support program as well as programs for community justice legal defence and for reintegration.

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Michelle Williams, a law professor at Dalhousie University, told a news conference today the institute is part of a fresh approach to justice led by the province’s Black community.

“The African Nova Scotian Justice Institute is part of a new path, where community experts will help lead the way as we work to build a more equitable province, together,” said Williams, a member of the coalition’s justice working group.

According to statistics from the Justice Department, African Nova Scotians represent about 2.4 per cent of the province’s population but 10 per cent of admissions to sentenced custody and 11 per cent of admissions to remand in provincial correctional facilities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2021.

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