03/20/2014 11:57 EDT | Updated 05/20/2014 05:59 EDT

Legal Aid Ontario looks to help more First Nations in north

Legal Aid Ontario says it wants to expand service to First Nation's communities in the north.

The policy counsel leading Legal Aid Ontario's aboriginal justice strategy said the agency has been meeting with communities in the south to identify gaps in service — and that consultation will soon come to the north.

Sallon Melander said the communities on Manitoulin Island have come up with some good ideas that may benefit others.

“So there are ways to work with these communities, who are already doing really great things, and find out their lessons and expand them to other communities who are willing. There are other communities who have different skills [and] different ideas,” she said.

Melander said the work being done will help implement the 16 recommendations made by Justice Frank Iaccobucci, which include more aboriginal jurors and diversion programs for aboriginal offenders.

Different communities will have different requirements, she noted.

“[We’re] looking at our services with a blank slate right now and figuring out the best way to meet the needs of the community,” Melander said.

She added that one thing is certain: aboriginal people are over-represented in the justice system, and reforms will look at how to resolve that problem.