Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
February 16, 2009

Aboriginal Legal Interpreters Course in Family Law Begins

Today in Happy Valley-Goose Bay students from Innu and Inuit communities in Labrador will begin training to become interpreters for family law proceedings in the region. Upon completion of the course, individuals will be eligible to work as interpreters during court proceedings in Labrador, including circuits to communities on the north coast.

"We must ensure the Aboriginal people of Labrador are both heard and understood during court proceedings," said the Honourable Tom Marshall, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. "We have seen the important role Aboriginal interpreters serve in court proceedings and I am pleased the expansion of this program will now include family law. Undoubtedly, the results will be just as important for this branch of the law as they have been for criminal law."

"I believe it is critical for Aboriginal people to have dedicated support within the courtroom, for both criminal and family law matters," said the Honourable Patty Pottle, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. "When this course is completed the Aboriginal people of Labrador will be able to participate in their mother tongue in another form of court proceedings. This government clearly recognizes that in order for justice to be carried out effectively and fairly, Aboriginal people must have the option to participate in their mother tongue."

Through funding allocated from the Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador, the course and a glossary of legal terms were developed in collaboration with numerous Provincial Government departments, both levels of court, the Linguistics Department of Memorial University, College of the North Atlantic, the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, along with interpreters and partners from Labrador. As part of course material, all students will use a new glossary of over 200 family law terms translated into both Innu-aimun and Inuttitut.

"The work of all partners involved in these projects is to be commended," said Minister Marshall. "The spirit of cooperation evident throughout the process illustrates the importance of this initiative. I wish the students well as they commence classes to become family law interpreters."

The Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador provides $424,000 annually for Aboriginal justice initiatives and is a demonstration of the commitment of the Williams Government to Labrador and to enhancing services for the Aboriginal population. As a result of this investment, interpreter positions for court proceedings are available in the communities of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Nain and Natuashish.

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Media contacts:

Tansy Mundon
Director of Communications
Department of Finance
709-729-6830, 685-2646
John Tompkins
Director of Communications
Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
709-729-1674, 728-7762

2009 02 16                                                      10:10 a.m.

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