Fonds 306 - Northwest Territories. Department of Justice fonds

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Northwest Territories. Department of Justice fonds

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  • Sound recording
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  • Textual record

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  • [1898]-2012 (Creation)
    Northwest Territories. Department of Justice (1985-present)

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Physical description

14.48 meters of textual material; 30 oversized textual documents
12 plans
44 audio cassettes

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Administrative history

The Department of Justice was created in 1985. It assumed many of the responsibilities of the former Department of Justice and Public Services.

The Department of Justice is responsible for providing a full range of legal services and legislative drafting for all government departments including the Executive Council. It provides administrative support to the Supreme Court and Territorial Court, provides for institutional and community correctional programs and is responsible for the overall provision of legal programs available to the residents of the Northwest Territories. These programs include Criminal Injuries Compensation, Consumer Services, Victims of Crime Initiatives, Document Registries and Public Trustee. The department also sets the goals and objectives for police services in the Northwest Territories and in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, maintains appropriate police services. The department provides administrative services in the fields of Law Reform, Legal Aid and Liquor Licensing and Labour Standards. Furthermore, the division managed the administration of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act until funding for the program was withdrawn by the Federal Government in 1996. Before 1989, the department was responsible for the protection of the public and other services in the areas of labour services, public safety, mining inspection services and fire safety. In 1989, these services were transferred to the Department of Safety and Public Services.

The Directorate is responsible for the senior management of the Department of Justice. The Directorate is made up of two sections: policy and planning and financial and administrative services. The Policy and Planning Division was added to the department in 1988. Its responsibilities include: developing departmental policies, setting priorities for departmental activities, coordinating justice consultations at the federal/territorial level, and negotiating agreements between the two levels of government. In addition, this division managed the administration of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act, the Law Reform Committee and Victims Assistance Committee. Financial and Administrative Services includes budget development and control, authorizing financial transactions, financial reporting and personnel administration. Furthermore, the Directorate is responsible for analyzing policing budgets and participating in financial negotiations with outside agencies such as legal aid clinics and the Federal Government. The Deputy Minister also serves as legal advisor to the Executive Council and acts as a liaison between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Between 1993-94, the Directorate administered the Gun Control Program and Coroners Program, which had been transferred out of the Courts Services Division. In 1994-95, these programs were transferred to the Law Enforcement Division, formerly known as Police Services. Between 1997-98, the Directorate assumed responsibility for the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy as well as the Labour Standards Administration and the Labour Standards Board. In 1999-2000, the name of the division was changed from Directorate to Corporate Services. At this time, the services administered by Lawyer Support Services, including the administration of the Public Trustee office was transferred to the Corporate Services Division. In 2000-2001, Corporate Services, were transferred to the newly formed Services to Government Division which became responsible following programs: Directorate, Finance, Policy, Lawyer Support Services and the Labour Services.

The Police Services Agreement provides for the Government of the Northwest Territories' costs for policing services by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Through this agreement, the goals and objectives for the policing program in the Northwest Territories are established in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Government of the Northwest Territories also has an agreement with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs for a Native Special Constables Program that fulfils certain policing functions within the communities. Between 1994-95, the Coroners Program and Firearms Program were added to Police Services, which was renamed Law Enforcement Services the same year. These two programs were transferred from the Directorate Division. The Coroners Task provides administration and training for the Coroners Program throughout the Northwest Territories. The Firearms Task administers the Federal Firearms Legislation throughout the Northwest Territories.

The Consumer Services Division, later named the Consumer and Corporate Affairs Division in 1987, administered the Consumer Protection, Landlord and Tenant and Lotteries Act. The division produced consumer information brochures and information items that were broadcast on radio and television. Consumer Services was responsible for the registration of Vital Statistics, registration and licensing of professionals, issuing business licenses, regulating the insurance industry, licensing of motion picture theatres and projectionists and the classification of films. The Liquor Licensing Board was also part of this division and was responsible for granting, renewing, transferring, suspending and canceling liquor licenses and permits. It also controlled the conduct of licensees, their management and equipment at licensed premises and monitored the condition under which liquor was sold or consumed. The Labour Standards Officer was also part of this division and under the Labour Standards Act, investigated complaints from employees. In April 2005, the Labour Services Unit and responsibility of the Labour Standards Board, were transferred from the Department of Justice to Education, Culture and Employment The Legal Registries/Land Titles section joined this division in 1987 and included four sections: Land Titles is responsible for the registration of survey plans and legal documents evidencing land ownership. Corporate Registries is responsible for the registration of all profit and non-profit corporations operating in the Northwest Territories. Document Registry is responsible for the registration of documents evidencing an interest in personal property and the registration of business names. The Securities Registry is responsible for the protection of investors in the Northwest Territories.

In 1987-88, the responsibilities for labour services and enforcing the Liquor Act were transferred from the Consumer Services Division to form the Liquor Board and Labour Services Division. The Labour Standards Officer administered the Labour Standards Act and investigated complaints received under the Fair Practices Act. The Liquor Licensing Board continues to grant, renew, transfer, suspend and cancel liquor licenses and permits. The Consumer Services Division was renamed the Consumer and Corporate Affairs Division.

In 1988, the Legal Registries/Land Titles Activity became its own division when the Consumer Services Division was transferred to the Department of Safety and Public Services. It was renamed Registries and Court Services in 1991 when the Court Services and Land Titles/Legal Registries joined. The Registries and Court Services Division is responsible for providing administrative and technical support to the Supreme Court, Territorial Court and Court of Appeal of the Northwest Territories. This support includes registry offices, the office of the sheriff, court reporters, and a court library. This activity was also responsible for the administration of the Justice of the Peace and Coroners' programs, which included recruitment and training. In addition to providing services, the court travels to approximately 50 locations on a circuit basis. Staff support includes sheriffs, court reporters, judicial officers and clerks, administrative clerks and library personnel. In 1988, Court Services began to administer the Gun Control Program in the Northwest Territories. The division also coordinated a legal interpreters program for aboriginal languages, with assistance from the University of Carleton. Legal Registries is responsible for the operation of the Land Titles Office, the registration of corporations operating within the Northwest Territories, the operation of the system of registration of interests in personal property and the regulation of trading in shares and other securities to the public. In 1989, the Maintenance Enforcement Act was introduced in the Northwest Territories and the Maintenance Enforcement Office became part of the division. This service assisted in the enforcement of family support orders, which contained a provision for financial support to spouses and children from within and outside the Northwest Territories. After the Department of Safety and Public Services ceased to exist in 1997, the Registries and Court Services Division began to administer the Residential Tenancies Act in 1997-1998; the Fair Practices Act was also administered by this division at this time.

The Mining Inspection Services Division operated between 1985-1989. The division implemented all provisions of the Mining Safety Act and Explosives Use Act. The division compiled and maintained statistics on production and accidents and provided services on blaster, explosive, magazine and diesel permits. The responsibilities of this division included: inspection services to mines, quarries, exploration sites and abandoned mines; the provision of mine rescue training to all Northwest Territories mines; the maintenance of mine rescue equipment; the administration of the Northwest Territories Mine Occupational Health and Safety Board; the setting of standards for mine supervisors and other key occupations; the provision of examinations and accreditation to ensure that the required standards are met. Programs in mine rescue training and the supply of rescue equipment to active mines were delivered by this service. The division also provided legislated certification programs for specialist occupations that had a significant safety impact in the mining industry.

The Safety Division included the regulatory and administrative responsibilities for Fire, Mechanical, Electrical, Gas and Occupational Heath and Safety. These responsibilities included investigation of fires and all occupationally related safety and health hazards including inspection of buildings and work areas in all communities of the Northwest Territories. The fire fighting training program was a priority of this division and training courses were held in many northern communities. This department also delivered school programs on fire safety. The Occupational Health and Safety section delivered safety seminars to schools and to on-site construction seminars. Informational packages on workplace health and safety were compiled and distributed through the resource facility. Safety officers, in cooperation with industry workers, identified possible hazardous conditions, promoted safety awareness, outlined safety programs and investigated accidents. The Mechanical/Electrical section administered the Boilers and Pressure Vessels, Electrical Protection and Gas Protection Acts. The electrical inspection section inspected all electrical and elevator installations to ensure compliance with the Electrical Protection Act. The Gas Section enforced the provisions of the Gas Protection Act through inspections, public education and the registration of gasfitters.

In 1989, the Department of Justice underwent a major reorganization and the Mining Inspection Services Division, Safety Division and Consumer Services Division were transferred to the newly created Department of Safety and Public Services. This reorganization enabled the Department of Justice to concentrate on justice services and issues.

The Legal Division acts as the law firm for the government. It provides legal counsel, prepares contracts and other legal documents for all governmental departments, as well as to most boards and public agencies. Legal counsel represents the government in civil litigation before the court and prosecutions under the Labour Standards Act, in arbitration and at administrative tribunal hearings. Lawyers in the division frequently travel to communities and regional offices to provide advice and legal assistance in the interpretation of legislation, drafting of documents and discussion of government programs and policies. The division also assists in the administration of the criminal injuries compensation program pursuant to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act and administered the Fair Practices Act until 1996, when it was transferred to the Constitutional Law division and administered through a private contractor. The Legal Division participated in the continent-wide program of enforcement of family maintenance orders, whereby court orders made in other parts of Canada and the United States can be enforced against a defaulting party who resides in the Northwest Territories. This function was transferred to the Court Services Division in 1989. The Office of the Public Trustee is also administered in the Legal Division. The public trustee administers the estates or trusts of infants, mentally incompetent individuals and certain aboriginal estates.

In 1987-88, the Legal Division was renamed Lawyer Support Services. The division is comprised of three sections: Legal, Legislation and Constitutional Law. The Legislation section had been an independent division within the Department of Justice. The Legislation Division is responsible for the preparation of all Territorial legislation and any legal opinions required in the process of developing legislation. All legislation, orders, appointments and notices are prepared by the division for publication in the Northwest Territories Gazette. Annual volumes of the acts and legislative summaries of the legislation passed at each session of the Legislative Assembly are also prepared by this division for publishing. The Legislation Division is also responsible for the revision of the statutes of the Northwest Territories and for preparing a French version of all the acts and regulations. The Constitutional Law section is responsible for constitutional development in the Government of the Northwest Territories. This includes aboriginal claims, devolution, division and Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This activity was transferred out of the Department of Justice in 1997-98. The Aboriginal and Official Languages Programs joined Lawyer Support Services in 1995-96. Between 1999-2000, the services delivered by Lawyer Support Services, were transferred to the Corporate Services Division which was renamed the Services to Government Division in 2002-2003.

Between 1993-94, the Corrections Service Division was transferred to the Department of Justice from the Department of Social Services. Corrections Services provided institutional and community corrections for adults and young offenders. The institutional mandate is to administer the dispositions of the Courts by providing for the safe custody and detention of adults and young offenders sentenced to a period of incarceration. The division provided culturally relevant training and work programs for offenders while in correctional facilities. The community corrections responsibilities are to provide community justice development in offenders, probation and parole supervision, counseling and aftercare services to adult and young offenders, as well as to promote and develop programs to prevent crime within the community through greater community participation and control. In 1994-95, this division was renamed Community Justice and Corrections. The Community Justice Division fulfilled the responsibilities and offered programs similar to the community corrections program. Crime prevention programs, funding to community based crime prevention programs were delivered by the Community Justice Division. It also administered the Victims Services Fund that provided support to victims of crime and witnesses who were involved with the Supreme and Territorial Courts of the Northwest Territories.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of approximately 13.3 meters of textual material, 12 plans, 30 oversized textual documents (land titles), and 44 audio cassettes.

The bulk of the textual material consists of records from the Directorate and the Policy and Planning divisions. These records include correspondence, working and discussion papers, legislative proposals and other records related to the amendment or enactment of Territorial legislation, including the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Human Rights Act. There are also Deputy Minister and Ministerial chronos, as well as Ministerial briefing books.

There are records regarding conferences organized by the department, as well as correspondence and reports related to the reorganization of the Department, including documentation of Corrections and Lands Titles functions to the department, planning for division, aboriginal self-government, as well as Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and services agreements between Justice and the Department of Social Services. There are records that document a gender equality review, amendments to the definition of spouse under the Family Law Act and Adoption Act, an investigative report on hiring practices in two correctional facilities, and a public awareness campaign about crystal meth, as well as records that document the Task Force on Legal Aid, and court reforms. The records also include judicial decisions of the Labour Standards Board for 2004-2005. As well, there are program review files, training proposals, discussion papers, action plans and reports from the following programs and divisions: Justice of the Peace program, Legal Services Board, Labour Standards Board, Territorial Firearms Officer, Maintenance Enforcement Program, Coroner’s Office, Corrections Division, Rental Office, Court Library and Court Reporters.

Records from the Liquor Licensing Board include sound recordings of board meetings with associated hearings and public meetings.

There are records from the Finance division regarding third-party funding agreements.

There are records from the Corrections Program including a review of Young Offender facilities in the NWT, and material from a conference that was hosted by the Department of Justice on forecasting correctional prison and supervision populations and community corrections. There are also records concerning strategic planning for the Department of Justice, development of the Youth Corrections Manual, as well as copies of Insight Newsletter which was a newsletter produced by the Yellowknife Correctional Centre. In addition, there are files concerning the transfer and implementation of Corrections services to Nunavut, a report from the Yellowknife Correctional Centre Inmate Advisory Committee requesting an Aboriginal Healing program, and copies of an operational review that was done by a consultant called "View of the Future of Social Services for the NWT," an annual report from the Mackenzie Courtworkers Service, minutes from Warden’s meetings and the Youth Justice Committee, and a manual produced for community-based Youth Justice Committees.

There are records from the Community Justice Division, including contribution and protocol agreements. These agreements include proposals or submissions made under the Victims Services Contribution Agreement Program, Victim Assistance Fund or Community Justice Committee Program and include copies of proposals, activity reports and final reports from communities and organizations that received funding under these programs. In addition, there program implementation and evaluation files for the Community Constable Program, Victims Impact Statement program, as well as discussion papers about the Community Justice program, strategic framework for the Victims Services Program, and an evaluation report on the Community Constable Program.

This fonds also includes committee records from the following: Legislation and House Planning Committee, Legislation Proposal Review Committee, Corrections Consolidation Advisory Committee, Aboriginal Justice Committee, Criminal Justice and Corrections Communications Committee, Community Supervision Working Group, Labour Standards Board and records related to meetings and negotiations held between senior management and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), as well as a file related to the RCMP Special Constable program.

Also included in this fonds are 30 land grants, titles and transfers dating from 1913-1951. These documents are primarily oversized text documents, affixed with wax seals and ribbon. High-resolution digital .tif images of all 30 land title documents are available for reference purposes.

In addition, there are 12 bound settlement plans that originated from the Registries and Court Services Division. The plans are of settlement lots for the communities of Fort Smith, Fort Resolution, Hay River, Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Fort Norman, Fort Good Hope, Fort Liard, Fort Rae, Fort Wrigley, and Fort McPherson. The plans are dated between 1898-1915. Also included from the division are the meeting minutes of the Court Management Committee and correspondence with the Status of Women Council regarding the usage of plain language in court orders.

The fonds also contains miscellaneous papers and reports including the “Conrad Report”, a working paper on amending the Jury Act and paper entitled "Study of Time Factors Involved in the Disposition of Cases in the Territorial Court, Northwest Territories" by Judge R.M. Bourassa.

There is also one file that originated from Vital Statistics entitled 'The Mad Trapper.' The file includes correspondence between the Registrar General of Vital Statistics and those seeking inquiries regarding the death and possible disinterment of the Mad Trapper, Albert Johnson. Also included are copies of the Warrant to Bury Albert Johnson at Aklavik issued in February 1932. A copy of Dick North's report on the question of Johnson's true identity, entitled 'Exhumation of Albert Johnson' is also included.

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      Access restricted under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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      Finding aids

      Finding aids in various formats available; see accessions for details.

      Associated materials

      The Legal Services Board (fonds #418) received administrative support from the Department of Justice. Records received from its successor, the Legal Aid Commission, have been placed in the Legal Services Board fonds, while records received from other divisions (chiefly Policy and Planning) are included in the Department of Justice fonds.

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      Physical description

      ca. 14.48 meters of textual material; 12 cartographic items (settlement plans) and 30 oversized textual documents (land titles); 44 audio cassettes.


      Copyright held by Government of the Northwest Territories.

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