After several years of First Nations peoples being excluded from jury rolls in the Thunder Bay area, the province of Ontario will finally be holding an inquiry to find out exactly what went wrong.
Trials and inquiries that call for juries in the Thunder Bay district have been on hold indefinitely since March after the representativeness of juries was called into question because on-reserve Aboriginals, who make up a large portion of the areas demographic, were being systematically excluded from jury rolls.
According to the CBC, Attorney General Chris Bentley announced former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci will put in charge of investigating how the system has failed Canada’s Native people when it comes to jury representation.
The system breakdown in terms of Aboriginal involvement in Ontario juries first broke down in recent years when it was decided that Indian and Northern Affairs no longer lists of Aboriginals for jury rolls over privacy issues. Since that time no other department picked up the slack, leaving Aboriginals excluded.
It is expected that Iacobucci’s systemic review and recommendations will stand for the entire province, not just Thunder Bay, to ensure that Aboriginals be represented on juries throughout Ontario.