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Court Sessions Held On Reserves For First Time

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JANUARY 31 1975      v05 n01 p06  
Court sittings on reserves is now a reality with Justice of Peace, Henry Langan, passing out sentences to offenders for the first time in Saskatchewan's history.

The first of any court sittings were held recently both on the Cote and Red Pheasant Indian Reserves.

The court was held at the Badgerville Recreation Centre, located on Cote Reserve, with the approval of the Attorney General's office.

Henry Langan, a member of the Cote Band, a recently appointed leader of the Justice of Peace under the Attorney General's department, sentenced three youths from the Cote and Keeseekoose Bands for minor offences. The length of the court proceedings took approximately two hours.

Corporal Dale Miller from the Kamsack R.C.M.P. detachment was the officer of the law acting on the part of the queen. Corporal Miller announced that according to him, "This is the first court held on a reserve around-this district. It may be a first in Saskatchewan."

Corporal Miller further stressed that "There would be equal justice for all, whether a person was on trial in the city court or on a reserve court." He said, "This procedure should work once it has been-tried for some time."

It is anticipated that courts of this type will eventually be handled by the Indians themselves. There, will also be an Indian Court Worker available.

The officer of the law will be Archie Kayseas; a special Indian constable in co-ordinate with the R.C.M.P. of Kamsack will be assigned to cover the Kamsack district. Archie Kayseas, originally from the Fishing Lake Reserve from Wadena, Sask. will begin his duties as a police officer as soon as they are finished training as Special Constables.

The first of any court sittings in the Battleford district was held recently on the Red Pheasant Indian Reserve, about 25 miles south of North Battleford.

Presiding, as Justice of Peace was Henry Langan and Eli Wuttunee, recently appointed a Justice of Peace as they both heard and judged five minor cases.

Cases heard at the first court sitting involved charges that were made under the Vehicles Act, liquor charges under the Indian Act, and two minor criminal charges.

Mr. Henry Langan, responsible for establishing the Justice of Peace program in the province of Saskatchewan on Indian reserves, will be handling the first court sittings in each district.

The recent appointment of Eli Wuttunee as a J.P. in the North Battleford district will diminish the existing problem of communication.

According to Saskatchewan's Attorney General, Roy Romanow, "The Indian person accused of an offence before the court is often at a disadvantage due to the communication problem. Often the accused, finds himself in a strange court, among strange people, where a strange language is being spoken."

"We feel that an Indian person will be better able to communicate with an Indian Justice in a court on his own reserve and in turn the Justice of Peace will be better able to communicate with him," he said.