The aim is to improve the legal services to Indigenous communities
Indigenous law expert Dr. Beverly Jacobs has been tapped to lead a major review of Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO) organizational structure to help it better respond to the legal needs of Indigenous communities in the province.
Her appointment is part of the group’s commitment to the Indigenous people and the government to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, particularly those addressed to the justice community, LAO said in a statement.
Jacobs has already commenced the review and is set to present her recommendations before year ends. LAO will make the findings and recommendations available to the public.
“Legal Aid Ontario is committed to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, which include the commitment to eliminate the overrepresentation of Indigenous adults and youth in the criminal justice and correctional systems,” said LAO chair Charles Harnick.
“Dr. Jacobs is highly regarded for her expertise regarding Indigenous Peoples in the legal system,” he added. “We are pleased that she is working on this important review that we hope will improve legal services to Indigenous Peoples and increase their access to justice in Ontario. Reconciliation can only happen through reflection, action and partnership with First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities.”
Jacobs currently serves as academic associate dean at University of Windsor’s Faculty of Law. She practices law part-time in her home community of Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.
Jacobs is also an award-winning scholar whose research focuses on Indigenous legal orders, wholistic health, and the decolonization of Eurocentric Law. She was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada in 2018. Most recently, she was honoured with the Law Society of Ontario’s Laura Legge Award.
“I am honoured to be appointed to do this work with Legal Aid Ontario,” Jacobs said. “I believe in transformational change and that LAO is committed and willing to do what is right for Indigenous peoples in Ontario.”