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Makeshift courtrooms in Nunavut need heat and toilets, says judge

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

Some buildings used to hold circuit court in Nunavut communities still do not meet basic standards.

That’s despite a directive last year from the senior judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice.

Outside of Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital city,  communities do not have courtrooms and court is often held in community halls, hotels and school gymnasiums.

Last June, Justice Robert Kilpatrick issued a directive to have all locations inspected where circuit court is held. He said they need to make sure there’s running water, a phone jack, working toilets, heat and a functioning fire alarm.

Kilpatrick also asked for the latest public health and fire and safety inspections records.

Court Services did an audit and the results weren’t good.

“How is it that we expect the court to operate in those sub-standard conditions?” Kilpatrick says.

“It is high time for the government to take into consideration the needs of its court when it designs facilities, and ensure we have what we need to do a proper job.”

The senior judge says he’s still waiting for the Department of Justice to come up with some solutions.

In a statement to CBC News, officials in the department say they’re working with another government department, Community and Government Services, to address the issue.

They’re also discussing the possibility of finding alternate places to hold court in some communities.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.