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ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Through the window

[Note: The following reflection by a member of the May Aboriginal Justice delegation has been adapted for CPTnet.  The original is available here. ]

Two weeks ago on our Aboriginal Justice delegation, we attended bail court for people arrested and held over the weekend in Kenora, Ontario.  We hoped that our presence indicated to both the court employees and defendants that people were watching, that outsiders cared about what happened in that space.

The sharp gradient of power symbolized within the courtroom struck me.  The judge was literally front and center and at the highest point in the room.  His word was law and his orders carried out.  The defendant was cloistered behind glass panels at the side.  He could speak only when spoken to.  His fate was dependent upon the judgments of others.  Dynamics of structural oppression were also at work, from the racialized division of Anishinaabe defendants and white settler prosecutors, to the social, historical, and economic backdrop of the alleged crimes.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Otters and Oppression

One morning during my recent Aboriginal Justice Delegation, a walk around Lake of the Woods led me to an otter.  I love the slinky agility of otters: their graceful dives, the cord of bubbles that marks their underwater path, and their effortless mounting of ice floes.  As a break from its fishy breakfast, the otter climbed onto a dock and shook itself dry.  It squinted up at me, decided that I wasn’t a threat, and pooped on the dock.  Its defecatory duty done, it glided back into the water and disappeared.

Prayers for Peacemakers April 16, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers April 16, 2014

Give thanks that Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources has decided not to issue logging permits on Grassy Narrows (Asubpeeschoseewagong) traditional lands this year, and that the EACOM and Weyerhaeuser corporations have decided not to purchase lumber from Grassy Narrows' traditional lands.  Pray that justice will be done next month when the case goes to Canada’s highest court in Ottawa that will focus on whether Ontario has the right to issue permits on traditional lands, which First Nations believe are protected by a treaty agreements.

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 12, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 12, 2014

Pray for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, and for the Canadian authorities to begin taking violence against Indigenous women seriously.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Listening for the voices of missing and murdered Indigenous women

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Listening for the voices of missing and murdered Indigenous women

According to reports by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), there are roughly 600 known cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, many of them unsolved.*  Loretta Saunders, an Inuit woman from Labrador whose family reported her missing on 13 February 2014, is one of the latest.  The RCMP discovered her body along a New Brunswick highway on 26 February.  That Saunders was in the middle of finishing her PhD in Halifax— on Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women—makes her death particularly harrowing, yet each of these women’s deaths is reprehensible.

CPT attended the ninth Annual Strawberry Ceremony honoring missing and murdered Indigenous women on 14 February, when over 200 people gathered at the downtown Toronto police headquarters for a rally and march.  Many individuals in the crowd held up signs bearing names, dates, and occasionally photos.  Several dozen people carried black silhouette-style signs cut in the shape of women's profiles, with names in white lettering on one side, and dates—usually preceded with the word “murdered”—on the other.