Nova Scotia premier apologizes for systemic racism in justice system

Nova Scotia premier apologizes for systemic racism in justice system

Premier Stephen McNeil apologized Tuesday for systemic racism in the justice system that has left Black and Indigenous Nova Scotians marginalized.

The provincial government said it is looking to restructure the justice system to eliminate racism and promote equality. 

“Our system of justice from policing to courts to corrections has failed many members of our Black community. A system that is supposed to keep you safe, but because of the colour of your skin you fear it,” said McNeil. 

“Today I say, ‘Enough.’ I want you to know I hear you, I see you, I believe you, and I am sorry. On behalf of my ministers, my caucus, our government, we are sorry.” 

McNeil went on to say that apologies are not enough. That is why his government is looking to “re-imagine a system of justice in Nova Scotia” where regardless of a person’s skin colour, culture or economic background, they are treated with respect and dignity, and where everyone can feel safe. 

WATCH | Nova Scotia premier announces plans to reform justice system:

McNeil describes the design team’s mandate, which he says will lead to ‘fundamental and systemic change’ to laws and policies. 1:53

He said there will be a restorative process to transform policing and public safety in the province. All levels of government and community groups will have to work together to make changes.

To do that, McNeil has put together a team made up of government officials, police officers, lawyers and community members, who have been empowered to design a restorative approach that will “transform public safety in Nova Scotia.”

“This restorative process will go deeper to ensure that it leads to fundamental and systemic change. It will require significant changes to our laws, our policies and our practices. The current system is broken and the only way to fix it is to find a better way, a more just way,” said McNeil.

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