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October 22, 2017
June 6, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Our court system failed

Written by Jeff Samsonow

 

I don’t tend to include a lot of crime stories in the Headlines. Most of the time they are without much context and I don’t like the whole “if it bleeds, it leads” strategy of too many newsrooms. So, I hadn’t planned on starting today with a story that is from the crime side of things… but I think it’s too important and too upsetting to try and mention it somewhere down there after we talk about flood plans and school fees (which we will get to).

*Reader note: Details of the stories linked to include descriptions of violence and sexual assault*

CBC Edmonton’s Janice Johnston has a story about a woman shackled and held in the Remand Centre for days to ensure her appearance in court. But she was the victim in the case. The crown attorney and judge didn’t trust her to show up to court to testify in the preliminary hearing of the man accused  – and later convicted – of committing terrifying violence upon her. She even had to ride from the Remand Centre to the Edmonton Law Courts IN THE SAME VAN AS HER ATTACKER.

A different judge presiding over the trial didn’t agree with how the woman was treated. After convicting the accused in the case, the crown applied to have the woman’s attacker deemed a dangerous offender and put away for an indefinite amount of time. This is important to consider in balance to what happened to the woman in this case. (She can’t be named due to a publication ban.)

Sadly, the woman would never see her vindication. She was killed in an unrelated crime before the trial.

If she had not been an Aboriginal woman, she wouldn’t have been treated this way.”

There will be an independent investigation into the treatment of this woman, as well as new rules the Justice Minister is implementing, some of them immediately. Certainly, it’s expected we’ll see some people dragged out into the light, now two years later, to answer for their actions. We must hear why a woman would be treated this way. We must find ways to ensure all judges, crown attorneys and others in our criminal and justice system understand the systemic pain they can inflict – not to mention the physical and mental pain – when they act out of white supremacy and classism. This follows on similar calls to update our justice system when it comes to sexual assault.

It’s an awful situation all around, and we can only hope many in our court system will learn from this and do better. They have to.

In a city, and province, that must atone for its past aggressions and cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples it is beyond the least we can do to acknowledge how reconciliation is needed in our court system, perhaps faster than it is in the wider community. And the provincial government must implement new standards for dealing with Indigenous people who appear before them and ensure everyone from arresting officers to appeal court justices puts their privilege in check.

*

We don’t like to just get angry around here, we always try to point toward something to follow up an outrage with some action. (But definitely allow yourself to feel your anger and other feelings.) Sharing the story would be one thing we can do, to make sure it doesn’t go unheard any longer. This would be especially important if you think it would cross the social media path of anyone in law enforcement, the legal system or government.


Stories to redeem faith in humans

Boyle Street Education Centre is celebrating 20 years of catching teens as they fall through the cracks.

An RCMP officer is being recognized for her work trying to be a good role model in First Nations communities she serves.

The Rutherford Mental Health Clinic is helping more kids and teens get treatment and services for mental health issues and illnesses.

Dogs With Wings is doing something innovative to get attention and raise some needed money for their services. They’ll have trained dogs out at summer events to help fundraise with special vests that can accept tap payments of $10 (or more).


Around the city

The City is releasing details on its big flood plans. The prevention strategy will cost billions of dollars and likely take decades to implement. The key to this is to update and upgrade flood protection in Edmonton’s core and mature neighbourhoods. Newer neighbourhoods have better infrastructure to handle big flashes of rain with things like storm water ponds. The City is also talking about ways to better protect underpasses from flash flooding, which is not directly related to the longer-term planning but might get lumped in as part of the financing.

The City wants to work with owners of office towers and big buildings – those larger than 20,000 square feet – to help them identify ways to go green and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Our big buildings eat up a lot of power.

Here’s some good news for parents, though maybe not so good for school boards trying to balance their budgets. There won’t be any new school fees or big hikes without the Education Minister’s approval.

A group of neighbours west of the city used the Edmonton Flying Club’s 90th anniversary to keep up their protest against the Parkland Airport. This is an ongoing fight, ever since the small airport opened in the wake of Edmonton’s City Centre Airport closing to air traffic.

Alberta Liberals have a new leader, and David Khan is the first openly-gay party leader in our province’s history. Khan makes it two of the five major party leaders not currently sitting as an MLA.


Public engagement

Edmonton’s Executive Committee meets today, beginning at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online. The meeting will stream live from the River Valley Room.

Edmonton Public School Board meets today, at 2 p.m. You can see the agenda online. The meeting will stream live.

The City has two interactive workshops happening at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 175, related to the Edmonton Seniors Centres Strategy and Advancing Age Friendly Edmonton, running 4-8 p.m.

There’s a pre-construction meeting about Northeast Rural Road Intersection Improvements and Road Rehabilitation (quite the mouthful), 4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m, at Horse Hill School. It’s going to focus on the work happening at Manning Drive and 195 Avenue.

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