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Finding our way: Paths to justice reform in an Aboriginal community

Hoyle Barron, Marcia
June 4, 2015

Source: (1998) Ph.D. Dissertation, McMaster University (Canada). ISBN: 0-612-50982-6.

This applied, participatory action research explores the context for community-based justice and conflict resolution mechanisms in Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation. Within the pluralistic Canadian context, Aboriginal ways of law and social control are being reasserted by some First Nations both as a basic right, and as a means of “healing” their communities of the debilitating effects of colonization. This research shows a community in flux, where jural values are divergent and changing, but one in which a distinctive approach to some aspects of social disruption and its resolution is apparent. Like a number of other Aboriginal communities, Sagamok experiences a high level of interpersonal violence, and “mischief” committed by youths in need of improved life opportunities. Community members indicated through this research that they eschew incarceration for most offences in favour of a communicative, rehabilitative response to crimes. They want to strengthen communicative ties to young offenders, and use local resources to address their behaviours. In this and other basic jural values, Sagamok Anishnawbek have shown a preference for restorative justice whereby restitution and reparation take place within a personally relevant social context. In doing so, they model recent “innovations” in criminal case processing. Restoring justice goes far beyond dealing with crime, however, to addressing intracommunal conflicts and tensions. Author’s abstract.


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