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Colonialism, Crime, and Dispute Resolution: A Critical Analysis of Canada’s Aboriginal Justice Strategy.

Sutherland, Jessie
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Winning Essay in the Graduate Student Catgory. 2002 James Boskey ADR Writing Competition. 2 January 03.

Colonial powers have often used criminal justice systems to dismantle and de-legitimize indigenous institutions and political aspirations. Jessie Sutherland comments that Canada has been no different in the implementation of laws and policies that have eroded First Nations’ political, economic, social, and cultural institutions and patterns. Recognizing this, the Canadian Department of Justice has responded with various reforms, including its Aboriginal Justice Strategy. In this paper, Sutherland contends that the Aboriginal Justice Strategy may provide some superficial remedies, but it neither addresses the systemic root problems nor offers durable solutions. The strategy does not but should support healing and capacity building within Firs Nations’ communities, as well as seek to de-colonize and repair the relationship with the Canadian state. To argue these points, Sutherland puts the Aboriginal Justice Strategy in context, evaluates it, and concludes with restorative recommendations for a renewed relationship with the Department of Justice and the Canadian state.


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