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Justice and reconciliation

University of Victoria-based project sees the justice system and reconciliation as being woven together

The Accessing Justice and Reconciliation Project sees the justice system and reconciliation as being woven together.

“You can’t have one without the other,” says Dr. Hadley Friedland, lead researcher on the project. “Otherwise you’re asking people to reconcile with injustice.”

Building on this idea, the project focuses on engaging with Indigenous law in the same way we engage with the current legal system in Canada, including research and writing about it. The vision of the program builds on the strengths and resiliency of Indigenous legal practices, and recognizes that if these practices are applied today, healthy and strong futures for Indigenous communities are a natural outcome.

It goes well beyond restorative justice circles.

“In the current system, a judge can pick a sentencing principle to best utilize, like rehabilitation, or diversion, or a fine,” Dr. Friedland says. “With Indigenous law, there are many principles as well, maybe it’s separation, maybe it’s healing.”

What the vision for the project in the next ten years?

“I want to see communities of Indigenous legal practice. I want to see textbooks. I want to see judges include it in courtrooms,” Dr. Friedland says, acknowledging she has high hopes for the project.

“It would be great to see Indigenous legal lodges, spaces for Indigenous legal practice to be applied as we do in traditional courts,” she adds, quoting the academic lead for the project, Dr. Val Napoleon.

The Accessing Justice and Reconciliation Project is well on its way to achieving these goals. They’ve worked with seven communities across Canada and are expanding to look at environmental law as well as applying a gender lens.

 

 

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