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Prince Albert - A six month Court Workers Program, the first in Canada and according to Attorney General Roy Romanow "Unique" because of it's initiation by Indian and Metis people, was completed November 1, 1973 with ten young men graduating.
The graduates include Albert Ross of Regina, George Arcand and John Smallchild both of Duck Lake, Maurice Fasseneuve, Angus Deschambeault and Alex Carriere all of Cumberland House, Bill Whitebear of Carlyle, Robert Spence and James Daigneault of Ile a la Crosse and the only non Indian of the ten graduates,
Barry Berglund of Tisdale.
While speaking to the graduating class at the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre in Prince Albert November 1st, Mr. Romanow accounted a government sponsored Native Court Worker Service would be established effective immediately with the program to be funded on a 50 - 50 cost sharing agreement with the Federal Government. The total amount provided for the program by the two governments for this fiscal year is $60,000 enabling the Prince Albert Friendship Centre to hire four courtworkers, and Friendship Centres in Regina, Saskatoon, North Battleford, and Yorkton to each employ one court worker.
Mr. Romanow, addressing the court workers, said, "This program is very unique and significant because the plan was developed by a native organization who knows the needs, aspirations, hopes, and desires of the people it serves." Mr. Romanow praised the P.A. Friendship Centre and other Friendship Centres for the "leadership they have provided for their people."
Mr. Romanow expressed his appreciation for the work done by staff of the Community College, the Prince Albert Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, native organizations, and everyone else who contributed to the success of the program. "This six month pilot project allows Saskatchewan to be the first province to get involved in this vital area, which will greatly improve legal services for native people," Mr. Romanow said.
The court workers will provide assistance in many ways as legal counsels including interpreting court procedures arranging bail for the offender, making pre-sentence reports to benefit clients as well as helping the accused after court appearance.
Mr. Romanow congratulated the court workers and stated, "You are a special duty officers of the court. You are in court to make sure truth is brought out."
He urged the court workers "to be independent, to speak up, and to be heard."
To make the occasion, Mr. Romanow presented a set of Saskatchewan Statutes to Albert Lapatac, Director of the Court Workers Program as a gift from the Government and Province of Saskatchewan.
The ceremonies were attended by representatives of the Community College, Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, Metis Society of Saskatchewan, Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, City Police and the R.C.M.P., the Bar Association as well as a representative from the Secretary of State.