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“Pushing the Boundaries”: Restorative Justice Practice in a First Nations Community

Handel, Miriam B
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) M.A. thesis, Canadian Plains Studies, University of Regina, Canada.

This case study examines the understanding of the interested parties with respect to the contemporary practice of community-based restorative justice programs in the Touchwood Agency Tribal Council and the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (Tribal Councils) in the Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan area. There is little research conducted on community-based restorative justice models that focus on the understandings of the interested parties. For perspective the study begins with a compilation of historical information about traditional First Nations justice practices and the legislation that has affected those practices over time. The research demonstrates that community-based restorative justice initiatives are beneficial to many First Nations communities within the Tribal Councils. In fact, many First Nations communities are pushing the boundaries in their use of community-based restorative justice initiatives and are setting precedent in some cases. Further, the full assessment Sentencing Circles model used by some communities and, in particular, Standing Buffalo First Nation, is seen by a majority of the participants to this research as a model to be used by the rest of the Province of Saskatchewan. This research further reveals that resources provided by governments, and within communities, are often inadequate to support community-based restorative justice initiatives in some First Nations communities. If resources provided to communities were sufficient, it is argued that community-based restorative justice initiatives would be successful in more First Nations communities. Author’s abstract.


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