Judge lauds Indigenous youth's remarkable recovery, accomplishments in court ruling

·2 min read
The statue of Themis, Goddess of Justice, resides in the atrium of B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.  (Peter Scobie/CBC - image credit)
The statue of Themis, Goddess of Justice, resides in the atrium of B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Peter Scobie/CBC - image credit)

A B.C. judge has recognized an Indigenous youth's remarkable journey of recovery in a court ruling terminating his probation early.

The judgment, written by Justice Alexander Wolf, does not list the young man's name, but refers to him as Mr. B. F. It says he had committed serious crimes, and was sentenced for an assault charge, a mischief charge, and a resist arrest charge and breach of bail charge.

Mr. B.F. was subject to probation with a myriad of conditions and in August was referred to a full-time substance abuse residential treatment program in the Lower Mainland, away from his home community.

Wolf wrote that while undergoing a three-month recovery, the young man completed his Dogwood high school diploma, while also upgrading his math courses, completing pre-employment training, and completing an online course about cultural learning and healing.

He managed to remain clean and sober despite experiencing a profound personal loss upon returning to his community.

"I cannot imagine the amount of effort and self-insight that must go into recovery. It must be a difficult and unique road for all individuals, whether they are an adult or a young person, or an Indigenous person, or non-Indigenous person," wrote Wolf.

"It is amazing at such a young age he has been able to complete the program, deal with his addictions issues, understand how important it is to deal with grief issues, and that he has taken active steps towards upgrading his employment training."

Wolf wrote it was unfortunate Mr. B.F. was not able to attend the hearing because of a family medical emergency, because he should be congratulated.

"If he ever has to walk across a stage to formally receive his high school diploma, I would be honoured to cheer him on, and give him a standing ovation, if I were to be invited to the ceremony," he wrote.

Wolf wrote that there is a 60 per cent high school drop out rate for Indigenous youth living on First Nations land, and 30 per cent for Indigenous youth living off of First Nations land — compared to a drop out rate of 10 per cent for non-Indigenous people.

"Today, I wanted to take a moment and celebrate this young Indigenous person's achievements. Your family and community should be very proud of you. I hope you are too," he wrote.