Canada: Another justice option for Aboriginal people

The Mitchell Advocate: “An Ontario criminal court exclusively for Indigenous people seeks to avoid jailing people while fostering more accountability and better results than would be seen in everyday criminal court, its proponents say.”

“They’re known as Gladue courts or Indigenous People’s courts and are for self-identifying Indigenous adults and youths, including Metis and Inuit and First Nations. They’re intended to help rectify the over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody, a reflection of intergenerational harm and the impact of colonialism.

‘I think there’s a misconception sometimes around Gladue court where some people think they’re going to get off easy or not be accountable to what they did, and that’s not the truth,’ Hollie Black, Grey County’s Indigenous criminal court worker, said.

‘It’s making them more accountable,’ said Renee Abram, the M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre’s executive director, during the interview. ‘I think most Indigenous people would feel more accountable because they’re within that circle.’

‘Going to jail isn’t always a fix . . . It doesn’t stop them,’ Black said. ‘Having to look and sit with an elder and having an elder hear what they did or things that have gone on is probably more effective than a judge.’

‘If your mom or your aunt or your grandmother is sitting there and you have to hear their input, family members, listening to their input and how they felt or what they feel about it,’ Black said, ‘is a whole other level.’

The personal accountability to your family ‘is huge,’ Black said. ‘You still want to be part of that community, you still want to be part of that family at the end of the day,’ Abram said.”