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Confronting the Past and Building a Future: Peacemaking Circles in a Northern Canadian Community

McCormick, Anna C
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) M.A. thesis, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Canada. Downloaded 4 March 2005.

The most significant changes in the administration of youth justice, based on a transformative philosophy, are occurring in First Nations communities, in response to a history of oppression, near-genocide, culture conflict with, and proven ineffectiveness of the Western criminal justice system. In efforts to reassert power and take responsibility for local issues, address crime and victimization, build community, revive traditional values, increase community capacity and self-sufficiency, create a healthier reality for future generations, and prepare for eventual self-government, one primarily First Nations community in the Yukon has developed and implemented peacemaking circles.
This thesis is a result of field research conducted in this community. Based on participant observation and interviews with community justice practitioners, community members, justice personnel, young offenders and victims who have experienced peacemaking circles, it explores several individual, community, and system level challenges which may affect the potential of circles to accomplish objectives. The initiative operates within a community and political environment that is plagued by misinformation, skepticism, mistrust, resistance, apathy, dysfunctionality, power imbalances, state paternalism, and minimal ideological and financial support. Project evaluations cannot be imposed from the outside, before these issues have the opportunity to be addressed, or before the initiative has sufficient time to reach long-term objectives. Failure to address these and other issues could be devastating to the entire restorative justice movement, and doom communities to continued intervention by and subordination to an ineffective and oppressive retributive justice system. Author’s abstract.


AbstractCirclesCourtsEvaluation/StudyIndigenous JusticeJuvenileNorth America and CaribbeanPolicePolicyPrisonsRestorative PracticesRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeStatutes and LegislationTeachers and StudentsVictim Support
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