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Walking With History

By Nicolas Kamran

On my twenty-first birthday, I saw a man go to prison. I parsed through our client’s criminal record again as the sheriffs carried him away. At this stage, he had seen the inside of a courtroom more often than most big law firm associates. “Courtroom,” I use in the broadest sense. We stood inside a community center that held court only because that was what we demanded of it. For others, it was a hockey rink, sometimes a concert venue. To our client, I wondered if it had been anything else but a border post between lands of freedom and captivity, and myself but one more sad customs officer.

 

To look out anywhere in Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) is to see mountains cut across the sky. They had surrounded me for the past week, reflecting on the Arctic Ocean those same stark lines of grey and white immortalised by Frederick Varley. A century ago, those mountains stood over one of the most consequential trials in world history.[1]

A typical view in Mittimatalik

Robert Janes, by all accounts, was a deeply troubled man. The Newfoundlander’s career as a sailor was marked by failure and isolation in Mittimatalik, where he once claimed to have struck literal gold. His reports of fortune had even received enough attention to have three ships sail to Pond Bay—one sank, two returned, none found gold. By 1919, however, Janes had found moderate success as a trapper. He had spent the past three years selling fox skins across the East Arctic in various Inuk hunting camps, garnering a reputation as an imposing, erratic, and violent fur-trader. The truth was that Robert Janes had gone mad. At times, his body would rattle with rage. Other moments he spent ruminating in his igloo. He was so desperate to fund his passage home that he began demanding hunters give up their skins to him, threatening death in case of refusal. For the Inuit living in the hunting camp, his aggression inspired fear and demanded reaction.

It came down to self-defence: Robert Janes needed to die. The Inuit conversed for hours until an elder conclusively argued that he should die before he had the chance to kill one of them. Having reached this consensus, the community selected the young hunter Nuqallaq for the task. On March 15, 1920, he ambushed Janes and shot a bullet in his skull. Along with two fellow hunters—Ululijarnaat and Aatitaaq—Nuqallaq buried him in a shallow grave off the shore of Eclipse Sound.

A wave of relief fell over the camp as fellow hunters celebrated Nuqallaq. For saving the community from the threats of this abrasive trader, several even gifted him their skins. Inuit customary law had directed the group to dispose of Janes in such a manner, and consensus had guided them every step of the way. Nuqallaq was the procedural vessel for executing the camp’s decision. He restored the order Janes had undone. With all in the community speaking freely of the killing, passing ships slowly brought the news south.

In 1920, the imperially misguided question of who “owned” the Arctic remained open. The Inuit had been spread over what we today call Greenland, Northern Canada, Siberia, and Alaska for at least 4000 years, sharing a common culture and the Inuit–Yupik–Unangan language family. Nunavut translates to “our land,” a rather unambiguous claim—though some argue that Inuit societal values may not exactly square with ideas of sovereignty under public international law. Even so, Canada’s answer to this paragraph’s initial question has borne greater resemblance to Robert Janes than to Nuqallaq.

Yours truly right outside our lodge.

A dear colleague baked me a birthday cake on circuit. We had run a trial hours earlier.

 

 

 

Iqaluit was known as Frobisher Bay until 1987. The name honoured Sir Martin Frobisher, the English seaman and privateer who came across the bay in 1576 when searching for the North-West Passage. Like Janes, Frobisher was convinced that he had discovered vast quantities of gold. He returned to the territory on several occasions, digging up mines and transporting thousands of tons back to England. Once smelted, the ore revealed its true nature: hornblende, a worthless mineral used today for highway construction. The name “Baffin Island” honours William Baffin, another English seaman who came looking for the North-West Passage in 1616—before dying alongside my ancestors in the Conquest of Ormuz. Most famously, the “Franklin strait” takes its name from Sir John Franklin, the British Royal Navy officer whose failed Arctic expedition became an international media sensation. After disappearing in 1845, his wife Lady Jane Franklin sponsored seven expeditions to the arctic in hopes of discovering her husband’s fate. For the next 170 years, explorers and scientists across the world attempted in vain to find Franklin’s lost expedition. In 2014, a Parks Canada team finally came upon the wreck of Franklin’s HMS Erebus in Nunavut. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the discovery in the House of Commons, expressing his gratitude to Franklin for laying the foundation to Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. Franklin’s memorial stands tall in Westminster Abbey, bearing the inscription: “Discoverer of the North West Passage.” For centuries, the Inuit had named the strait where emerged HMS ErebusUmiaqtalik,” meaning “there is a boat there.”

Exploration notwithstanding, Canada’s claim to the Arctic was weak in the early twentieth century. The British had never consistently occupied the archipelago, and the Federal government was not terribly worried about asserting its sovereignty in the region for lack of challengers. This situation changed when American and Norwegian explorers began declaring ownership of “undiscovered islands” in the Arctic.[2] Pressure mounted in Ottawa. Canada needed to show the world that it would enforce its own laws in the Arctic islands. When word of Robert Janes’ death reached RCMP commissioner Aylesworth Bowen Perry—erstwhile Canadian militia major during Louis Riel’s North-West Rebellion of 1885—sovereignty was set in motion.

It did not take long for Staff-Sergeant Alfred Herbert Joy to get settled in Mittimatalik. A few months after receiving orders to investigate Janes’ case in 1921, he successfully located the body, prepared an autopsy, conducted an investigation, arrested the accused, and set a trial for August 1923. The judge would find Nuqallaq guilty of manslaughter and sentence him to 10 years in Stony Mountain Penitentiary—the same prison where Chiefs Big Bear, One Arrow, and Poundmaker languished after the 1885 North-West Rebellion. There, Nuqallaq contracted tuberculosis within months before being sent back to Baffin Island, having brought his disease along with him. Tuberculosis remains a deadly scourge in Nunavut. In 2014, Stony Mountain Penitentiary opened its new $45 million maximum-security wing.

A Nunavut Arctic College building in Mittimatalik

It is not an exaggeration to say that Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic was founded upon crime and punishment. Staff-Sergeant Joy built the community’s first RCMP detachment and courthouse, the former of which would soon be stationed next to the first Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) trading post in the High Arctic. In the wake of the Janes killing, the RCMP set up permanent detachments and patrols across the North, each followed soon by the HBC. By 1930, Canada paid off the last Norwegian land claim to the territory. What had been set in motion was now complete.

Thoughts of Nuqallaq and Robert Janes swirled about in my head as I looked once more to the mountains. Earlier that day, I had interviewed a client for sentencing. With our backs against a field hockey installation, he spoke softly of his upbringing in Mittimatalik. I sensed with every word how it was impossible to know our client without understanding what his grandfather had meant to him. He had been the root upon which my client could grow and flourish, fixed deeply in the soil but connected to all. When he passed away, my client felt as though he could no longer stand. He withered. I thought of my own grandfather, born the same year Staff-Sergeant Joy began his investigation. Sleep seemed out of reach for the night. It remained so when news reached my supervising lawyers that the upcoming circuit in Grise Fiord had been cancelled.

Our courtroom in Mittimatalik

If Mittimatalik was founded on a trial, Grise Fiord was founded on a lie—though both rose from Canada’s shameless quest for sovereignty. In 1953, the Canadian government coerced eight Inuit families from Inukjuak to settle on the southern tip of Ellesmere Island (Grise Fiord) and the northern coast of Cornwallis Island (Resolute). Prime Minister Louis Saint-Laurent sold the “Arctic relocation program” as a humanitarian gesture to save the Inuit from starvation, promising them homes, abundant game, and the opportunity to return to northern Quebec after two years. In what would become Canada’s coldest and northernmost public communities, they found no buildings, scarce wildlife, and no way home. The Canadian government treated the Inuit as mere human flagpoles; in more ways than one, the “relocated” and their descendants wait for justice—no officer of the Nunavut Court of Justice has been to Grise Fiord in two years.[3]

Returning to McGill will be difficult after three months up north. An unstructured or poorly considered argument when submitted for a law school assignment yields at worst a bad grade. An unsound strategy in court may cage your client for several years. The comically stark difference in stakes requires adaptation. Working in criminal justice also tends to reveal how “meritocracy” simply acclaims the fortunate, or those with the means to escape accountability for their worst moments. Mostly, I will need to adjust my perspective on time. The first twenty-one years of my life have been spent looking forward—the next opportunities, places and ideas. I have taken immobility as regression. In turn, Nunavut landscapes often gave me a feeling of eternity. I had the unmistakable impression that generations before me had looked upon the same tundra and would do so far past my death. If I looked closely enough, Nuqallaq and Robert Janes were right there. In Nunavut I walked with History.

 

 

[1] My telling of the Robert Janes trial owes much to the following works: Shelagh Grant, Arctic Justice: On Trial for Murder, Pond Inlet, 1923 (Montreal, QC: McGill-Queen’s, 2002); Kenn Harper, Thou Shalt Do No Murder: Inuit, Injustice, and the Canadian Arctic (Iqaluit, NU: Nunavut Arctic College, 2017). More information can be found in the Qikiqtani Truth Commission’s community history of Mittimatalik.

[2] See generally William James Mills, Exploring Polar Frontiers: A Historical Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003).

[3] Fall 2022 should see a circuit in Grise Fiord and Resolute.

Traces of Transience

By Nicolas Kamran

The views expressed in this piece are my own.

I noticed two things upon first entering Iqaluit’s RCMP detachment center. First, its rather pleasant atmosphere, provided you ignore the human beings in cages. Second, the conspicuously displayed portrait of Elizabeth Windsor. In fact, I have found it nearly impossible to escape Her Majesty on a day-to-day basis. After enjoying a brisk walk down Queen Elizabeth Way to visit a client held in the RCMP detachment (emphasis on the R), I reach the courthouse where my supervising lawyer is negotiating with a Crown prosecutor. A decision will be rendered today at the Nunavut Court of Justice in the matter of Regina v AB. “All rise, the Nunavut Court of Justice is now closed for the day”. Silence. The clerks glance at one another until one lets out a hearty “God save the Queen!” The judge repeats the expression, and we all leave. It is hardly what one expects of the British Empire’s death rattle.

In recounting these details, I do not wish to describe colonialism as a mere collection of pretentious symbols. This would be missing the point entirely. In Nunavut, colonialism is the air one breathes. Permeating everything and everyone, it does what power does: grant strange and unjust realities the appearance of normalcy. Language is particularly fertile ground for this phenomenon, for the words we use frame our world. Consider how the Bush administration described obviously violent practices during the War on Terror. “Collateral damage” replaced the more accurate label of “dead civilians”, with “enhanced interrogation techniques” giving a friendlier face to “torture”. American “air support” did not “lay Iraqi fighters to rest” by tucking them into bed at night. It murdered people with bombs. And yet these terms filled up headlines for the better part of a decade, sporadically appearing in Canada on occasions where the RCMP used “lethal overwatch” to describe sniper units targeting Indigenous blockades. Again, this is what power does: it obscures patently unjust realities when said realities ground established hierarchies.

Power is why, despite having the highest suicide rate of any place on Earth, Nunavut does not have a single mental health treatment center. Power is why a single psychiatrist[1] serves a territory where ten-year-old unilingual Inuktitut-speaking children can flawlessly pronounce terms like “schizophrenia” and “fetal alcohol spectrum disorder”. Power is why Iqaluit has aviation fuel in its drinking water and an $18 million RCMP detachment center. Power is why Iqaluit has an ongoing housing crisis and a $90 million prison. Sorry, I did not mean “prison”­—I hear it is called a “healing facility” now.

An abandoned Hudson’s Bay outpost. I hear that an Inuk man bought it a few years ago.

In a sense, the situation I describe above makes writing this blog a remarkably difficult task. At the risk of saturating this text with metaphors, I find myself turning to a joke made famous by David Foster Wallace: Two young fish are swimming along, as they happen upon an older fish. The elder politely nods at them and says, “Morning, fellers, how’s the water?” The two younger fish continue swimming on for a while, until one looks over at the other and asks, “What the hell is water?”

The most obvious and crucial realities are often those hardest to see and understand; age and experience can progressively reveal them to us. Now imagine that the younger fish is tasked with writing something worthwhile about water. Of course, no one has expressly tasked me with writing about colonialism. Interns have considerable editorial freedom in this program, and it would probably be far easier to write about hiking the scenic trail to Apex and eating Narwhal for the first time. But I do not want to do that, for as important as those moments were, they do not occupy my thoughts. Colonialism occupies everything, and to spend six weeks immersed in Nunavut’s criminal justice system without discussing its defining character seems inappropriate. Even so, opining about the nature of crime and punishment after six weeks here also strikes me as comically premature. Doubtless, I swim along in the water. But I remain the younger fish. I still have much to learn and digest before I can escape Ludwig Wittgenstein’s famous injunction: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

On the topic of that about which I cannot speak, two more problems emerge. The first is that many of the more insightful stories I would like to recount from my time at Maliganik are subject to confidentiality. The second is that much of what I would like to say could adversely impact my organisation’s relationships in town. Nunavut Legal Aid’s mandate renders its services available to nearly everyone in the territory, and we work in collaboration with (and depend on) the Crown’s office, the Government of Nunavut, and all members of the judiciary. To engage in criticism, even if warranted, could be inappropriate. I will tread carefully.

Midnight in Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park.

My job at Nunavut Legal Aid has allowed me to work at nearly every stage of the criminal justice system. I have assisted lawyers in fielding “10(b) calls”, interviewing clients in cells, preparing bail hearings, drafting memos for trial matters, putting together sentencing ranges, and even writing Charter challenges. Each task has its difficulties, and each has taught me something new about the theory and practice of criminal law. With that said, I have found no process more fascinating than bail. During my first few weeks, I accompanied lawyers to Justice of the Peace (“JP”) Court every day on bail matters. As I met our organisation’s clients for the first time, my mind turned to something I had heard while working as a group assistant for the first-year criminal justice course. Around November 2021, Professor Mugambi Jouet organised a panel of defence lawyers and prosecutors to speak to our class. I remember seeing them huddled outside the Moot Court room, each trading stories about the first time they saw someone in handcuffs. What struck me was their sense of reverence for the moment. It was as if the physical manifestation of bondage made the stakes of criminal justice seem real.

X was the first person I saw in handcuffs, and everything about them expressed fragility. Their face oscillated between anguish and anger. They could not have stood at more than five feet tall nor have weighed more than one-hundred pounds. We spoke separated by a thick glass pane, a sheriff towering outside the room “for our safety”. In twenty minutes or so, a person X had just met would be arguing for their release.

A contested bail hearing in Nunavut’s JP Court is an experience in contrast. On one hand, there are few processes more legally significant. The right to show cause is one protected in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the outcome of a bail hearing is quite literally the difference between freedom and captivity. On the other hand, I have seen very little substantive law involved in any proceeding. What I have seen, mostly, are stories. Defence lawyers take what they know about the accused to construct sympathetic narratives about their lives, attempting to spin anything and everything in their favour. Crown prosecutors often rely on the alleged facts of the criminal offence and the accused’s criminal record to paint a portrait of a human being whose freedom poses a risk to public safety. JPs absorb both stories and produce a third, where they tell the accused, counsel, and the record how they reached their decision. The accused sits confused while people who did not know of their existence an hour earlier opine on their life and character. Sleek wood panels cover the courtroom walls. A golden leaf adorns the flagpole where rests our national symbol. X squirms as the sheriffs carry them back into a cell. There is hardly a more visceral sense that this system has been violently imposed on its subjects.

Some Northern dietary staples.

Preparation for the IHRIP emphasised “expecting the unexpected” and understanding how some things that are “good in theory” may be “bad in practice”. At the outset, a part of me found these points fallacious: To “expect the unexpected” is impossible and what is “bad in practice” must have some theoretical flaw. Nevertheless, I understood both points as calls for patience and adaptability when pushed outside of my comfort zone. These first weeks have unquestionably pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and I have endeavoured to uphold these values.

With that said, I struggle with being a “transient”. The latter term is one that locals typically use to designate those living and/or working in Nunavut for a short period of time. Understandably, the word has a rather negative connotation here. There is a sense in which those who are “just passing through for a job” refuse to fully engage with the culture, language, and history of the North. Worse yet, some feel that “transients” use Nunavut as a prime destination for “human rights tourism”. This phenomenon would be problematic anywhere, but its impacts are especially deep in smaller, more insular communities. A fitting metaphor is that of the tundra: Some years ago, a pipeline burst near where I live, requiring a cleanup operation of two trucks and one hour. Today, children play along the tire marks. There is a tundra that grows so slowly that everything passing over it remains embedded in the soil. Transience leaves its trace.

Tire tracks and a pipeline. Qikiqtani General Hospital looms large in the background.

My 40-hour work weeks do not feel like tourism, and I have tried my hardest to be a respectful guest in land which is not mine. Still, I recognise that the nature of this internship forces me into transience. As I document my twelve weeks here, I hope to chart my trace.

[1] See “A Primer on Nunavut”, 5th Edition, Office of the Senior Judge at 25.

Mes premiers pas dans l’univers du litige

Marie-Denise VanePar Marie-Denise Vane

Mon été de télétravail au sein de la Commission des services juridiques du Nunavut a été mon premier contact actif avec le monde du litige et le travail quotidien d’avocat.e. J’ai eu la chance d’assister des avocates spécialisées en droit criminel, de la famille et en protection de la jeunesse. Mon été 2020, c’était donc beaucoup de choses, dont certaines peuvent se résumer ainsi : effectuer de la recherche juridique, assister à des entretiens avec des clients, discuter moi-même avec certains d’entre eux, contacter des cautions potentielles, analyser de la législation, créer des documents administratifs et d’information. En somme, j’ai eu l’occasion d’apprendre. J’ai également vécu des premières fois mémorables.

Pour la première fois, j’ai rédigé par moi-même et en entier le mémoire du demandeur en prévision d’une audience. Il était question de la constitutionnalité d’une peine minimale. Mémorable. Pour la première fois, j’ai représenté un client devant une cour de justice. À mon grand bonheur, au Nunavut, les étudiants en droit peuvent agir en tant que représentant de l’accusé, dans certains contextes et sous certaines conditions. J’ai donc représenté un client devant la Nunavut Justice of the Peace Court lors de sa première comparution : « Your Honor, I have spoken with Mr. X and reviewed his file with him. He wishes to enter a plea of not guilty. » Bref, certes, mais mémorable. Pour la première fois, j’ai effectué une recherche juridique qui a permis à une avocate d’établir un précédent dans sa juridiction et de gagner sa cause. Dorénavant, en ces temps inusités de pandémie, un.e juge de la Cour de justice du Nunavut devra considérer qu’un accusé s’est vu accorder un crédit supplémentaire pour son temps passé en détention provisoire durant la Covid-19. Mémorable.

À toutes ces expériences formatrices manquait malheureusement une chose à mon sens essentielle : le contact humain. Avoir l’individu en face de soi. Analyser le non-verbal. Pouvoir établir un lien. Partager ses propres impressions, et ressentir les émotions de l’autre. Une des avocates de la Commission me décrivait le rôle d’un.e avocat.e en droit de la famille comme étant multidimensionnel. Représenter à la fois le conseiller juridique, le « life coach », le psychologue et plus encore. J’estime que le contact humain permet d’assumer ces rôles de manière efficace et sincère en offrant une présence réelle à sa clientèle.

Par contre, le contact humain implique aussi qu’il est essentiel de bâtir des « barrières émotionnelles » pour éviter d’être consumé par les problèmes de l’autre. J’aurais évidemment aimé pouvoir me rendre au Nunavut et vérifier ces affirmations par moi-même. Cependant, en repensant aux dossiers sur lesquels j’ai travaillé cet été et aux situations difficiles dans lesquelles se trouvaient les clients, je ne doute pas qu’elles soient vraies. Au final, ne pas avoir été en mesure de vivre le contact humain de la manière dont je l’aurais voulu m’a fait réaliser à quel point il s’agit d’une des facettes les plus importantes d’une pratique en litige selon moi.

Je termine en remerciant mes avocates mentor de m’avoir permis d’effectuer mes premiers pas dans l’univers du litige et en affirmant que j’ai très hâte d’entamer ma propre pratique, avec l’objectif de prôner le contact humain significatif au quotidien.

La distance n’est pas un obstacle

Marie-Denise VanePar Marie-Denise Vane

Il y a moins d’un mois, le 25 mai dernier, George Floyd était tué par un agent de police lors d’une arrestation à Minneapolis, au Minnesota, États-Unis. Une semaine plus tard, un homme était victime de brutalité policière au cours d’une arrestation, à Cape Dorset, au Nunavut, Canada. Notre fil d’actualité des dernières semaines est rempli d’événements de ce genre : tragiques, frustrants et décevants, pour ne nommer que cela. Et bien que l’attention médiatique soit à son comble présentement, force est d’admettre que l’abus policier et le racisme — systémique — ne sont pas des problèmes nouveaux.

J’effectue présentement mon stage à la Commission des services juridiques du Nunavut (ou l’aide juridique pour les intimes). En réponse à l’incident de brutalité policière de Cape Dorset, mon avocate superviseure en droit criminel m’a demandé de créer un pamphlet informant la population de la procédure à suivre pour porter plainte contre un membre de la Gendarmerie royale du Canada, qui est le service policier desservant le Nunavut.

Le pamphlet a été partagé sur les réseaux sociaux. C’est bien peu, me diront certains. D’autres considèrent que chaque action compte. J’imagine que j’appartiens aux deux catégories. Je pense qu’il est légitime de se sentir frustré.e par le manque de progrès, ou lorsque progrès il y a, du fait qu’il ne mène pas à l’émancipation totale et à l’égalité réelle recherchées. Par contre, je pense aussi qu’il faut se forcer à agir et que tout débute par un effort de conscientisation, puisque l’excuse des mains liées ou celle de l’ignorance n’en sont alors plus une. Dans tous les cas, il n’est pas nécessaire d’être sur place ni de vivre la chose personnellement pour ressentir cette frustration et pour agir. C’est ce que la crise de la Covid-19 m’a particulièrement appris.

J’étais extrêmement déçue, et c’est le moins que l’on puisse dire, de ne pas pouvoir vivre mon stage « en entier ». J’avais tellement hâte de partir vivre à Iqaluit, « up North ». Même si l’expérience est incomplète et donc assurément différente, je suis néanmoins heureuse d’avoir la possibilité de la vivre. Je travaille depuis près d’un mois dans le domaine du droit criminel et du droit de la famille. J’explore à distance les défis que représente la pratique juridique auprès des personnes défavorisées du Nunavut. Je ressens de la frustration à l’idée que 2052 km m’empêchent de surmonter moi-même ces défis. Je suis chaque jour conscientisée à de nouveaux enjeux. Derrière mon MacBook Air et ma recherche juridique, je tente de sortir de ma zone de confort. J’apprends. Je forge ma personnalité de future professionnelle du droit. Puisque la distance n’est pas un obstacle au travail, à l’effort, au changement et au progrès, la Covid-19 ne m’aura finalement pas volé cette opportunité. J’espère sincèrement me réveiller un jour et avoir eu tort, mais pour l’instant je suis convaincue que le travail est partout et qu’il ne s’arrêtera jamais.

P.S. : Bien désolée de ne pas avoir de photos à vous partager, ni d’anecdotes touchantes à raconter… la distance complique la chose. Toutefois, je peux vous affirmer sans hésiter que les avocates qui me supervisent sont des femmes passionnées et sincères. Pouvoir les rencontrer en personne n’aurait été qu’un plaisir encore plus grand que celui d’avoir la chance de travailler virtuellement à leurs côtés.

A Summer of Luck

By Curtis Mesher

While it has been difficult for me to sit down and write out blog posts during this summer, this should not be taken as a lack of experiences to be shared, in fact it is the opposite. This summer has been transformative, both professionally and personally.

The difficulty in writing blog posts over summer came primarily from the overwhelming amount of experiences worthy of their own entries (coupled with a lack of wifi and computer access throughout the summer!). Part of the difficulty is properly presenting my experiences, as much of what I ended up writing was more akin to journaling or poetry writing, than anything professional or in-depth and explanatory.

I experienced so much in such a short period of time that I did not know where to begin. I learned a lot about the field of criminal law, I learned a lot about Nunavut, and I learned a lot about my own family. I saw the famous print studios of Cape Dorset and Pangnirtung, places I had long wished to visit as an amateur artist.

Throughout the summer, I have been grateful of this experience. Everything I have seen has inspired me in various ways. I made many new friends, and deepened my own family connections. It was a summer of change and understanding. I began my summer anxious about what the experience would entail, and I quickly felt at home here in Nunavut.

While I arrived knowing few people, awestruck by my new surroundings (and getting chastised by airport workers for stopping to look around on the tarmac!), I left awestruck by how familiar everything felt (with some of the same airport workers, now my close friends, yelling out goodbyes on the tarmac!). Over the summer I volunteered at Parks Day, Nunavut Day (the territory’s 20th anniversary!), and the Iqaluit Food Centre, and I got to meet what feels like everyone in town.

I got to spend time living with family I had not seen in years, and left after deepening connections with them, as well as forging new bonds with their young children. I got to make friends of my coworkers, and found out that some of them at Maliganik (as well as court house interpreters!) are my relatives as well.

Pleasant personal experiences like these are often what people find in the north, where you never know what to expect. I did not expect to feel so connected to people, or to the land around us. While it is difficult to leave Nunavut and Maliganik, I am lucky to have spent time here.

I am lucky to have seen the energy of Iqaluit and its people, and a summer of siku (sea ice).

I am lucky to have experienced the cozy hospitality of Apex and its residents.

I am lucky to have seen the beauty of Kinngait and the beautiful work of their world-renowned artists.

I am lucky to have shared fresh country food such as raw beluga and caribou brains with wonderful people.

I am lucky to have seen the majestic mountains of Pangirtung.

I am lucky to have seen the arrival of northern lights as the north transitions from summer, after a summer of daylight during the night.

I will miss Nunavut and all I have met during my time here. I am glad to have spent time in Nunavut this summer. I got to see what it takes to work in smaller communities, I got to experience the collegiality of law in the north, and I got to imagine what my future work in law will be, as I attempt to work in criminal defence in Nunavik. While I had always pictured myself working in Northern Quebec, I now easily see myself returning to work in Nunavut in the near future.

 

A Summer of Change

By Curtis Mesher

As my flight to Iqaluit took off at the start of summer, change was on my mind. I tried to picture what my summer would be like, as I had never been to Nunavut before.  I wondered what my summer would be like at Maliganik Tukisiniarvik, (Nunavut Legal Aid), and what living in Iqaluit would be like. Summer began like every summer had since I began studying law: returning to Kuujjuaq to see my family.

While in Kuujjuaq I decided to go to the court house as it looked to be in session (Kuujjuaq, like nearly all of Inuit Nunagat, has an itinerant court system and court is only held during certain weeks). My visit to the court began like every one of my visits to the Kuujjuaq courts: with the white staff assuming I was there for my own matter as an accused. I approached the right worker and used all the right legal terms when asking to see the docket. Despite this display of understanding, I was assumed to be charged with my own criminal offences. Even if it was court within Inuit Nunagat, I had approached non-Inuit in their world, the world of (Euro-Canadian) law. And in their world, Inuit can only ever attend court when forced to attend for a matter we are personally implicated in.

This wasn’t the first time I was assumed to be an accused in Kuujjuaq’s courthouse. The change this time around was that it was stated plainly and out loud whereas in the past it was implied through the scornful eyes of the white sheriffs who watched me closely, like how one would be on-guard in the presence of a wild animal. This experience set the stage for an interesting summer working in law, and it underscored being the first Inuk student sent North from McGill to Nunavut Legal Aid for this placement.

From Nunavik to Nunavut

Part of the summer of change was flying north from Kuujjuaq, rather than returning south to Montreal, or flying out to one of the other communities in Nunavik. Flying north across the bay to Iqaluit was a wonderful change as the ice had just broken up for the summer, making the ocean more icey-white than deep blue. Kuujjuaq has the largest and most modern airport in Nunavik, but it could not prepare me for the recently-built airport of Iqaluit, where massive murals of acclaimed Inuit artists such as Kenojuak adorned the entirety of walls.

I had never seen such a massive display of Inuit culture in one place before, and this truly demonstrated how Iqaluit is the capital of Inuit Nunagat in Canada. I drove through Iqaluit, marveling at the difference of the landscape compared to Kuujjuaq. All around me were rolling hills, even across the water all I could see were hills. The size of Iqaluit stunned me, despite coming from the largest town of Northern Quebec.

This summer I lived in Apex, a community where in the recent past only Inuit lived when Americans and other white people were the only people allowed to live in Frobisher Bay(now Iqaluit). Apex alone reminded me of entire communities I had seen in Nunavik. Once I had dropped my suitcase off in Apex, I returned to town, where my 1st stop was the court house.

In court, predominantly Inuit sheriffs staffed the doors, and their first thoughts were not to treat me like a criminal. This was a drastic change from all of my experiences of court in Nunavik, and it comforted me to receive this sort of reception. The courthouse itself also set me at ease: instead of the standard (and rather drab) layout of Kuujjuaq’s tiny basement courthouse, all courtrooms in Iqaluit featured architectural elements taken from traditional Inuit items such as iglus and qamutiit. There were Inuit clerks with traditional face tattoos, Inuit interpreters, and even Inuit counted among the justices of the peace and members of the prosecution.

This truly was a change from my experiences of Nunavik.

I quickly acclimated to this new locale, just as I quickly acclimated to my coworkers at Maliganik. It was such a drastic change to see how the office functioned in comparison to Legal Aid Quebec’s branches in Kuujjuaq: the staff was larger, and many Inuit were integral to the function of the office.

Within a short time, I felt at home. It felt great to be living and working up north (even when woken up early by noisy ravens and the bright light outdoors during ‘nighttime’!), and to be respected for my contributions over the summer. I was given important tasks and even spoke in court several times for matters such as contested bail hearings and modifying bail conditions on consent with the Crown.

It was fulfilling to begin gathering experience of what it is like to work up north, as I hope to eventually practice in Nunavik one day. I learned how to help Inuit clients navigate the criminal justice system, as many people have English as a second language.

From the Capital to the Circuit

Beyond these localized experiences, it was truly rewarding to be valued by the staff at Maliganik, as the lawyers were welcoming and open to furthering my knowledge of criminal law. This rewarding and welcoming behavior was exemplified by their willingness to send me on circuit to the community of Pangirtung, where I was integral to the work of the lawyers on circuit. I met with clients and prepared material essential to their files. While I did not get to speak on circuit (because of typical circuit court delays, which meant court was in session from 9:30 am until 9:00 pm!), what I prepared was presented verbatim by the lawyers, and it was pleasure to contribute to our clients’ cases in meaningful ways.

This experience on circuit was yet another change from my experience in Iqaluit: the glamourous courthouse was replaced by the community centre recreation room, my modern office at Maliganik was replaced by the community centre boiler room, where I had jammed in folding chairs amongst their old boxes to take their information and discuss their files. This change taught me invaluable experiences on how to manage criminal files in circumstances unlike the typical setting for professions such as law down south. The resourcefulness required while on circuit will surely guide my future studies in law, and I am grateful to have experienced it.

Furthermore, I am grateful to have seen the beauty that is the land around Pangirtung. Where I once marveled at the hills of Iqaluit in comparison to Kuujjuaq, I am now truly awestruck by the mountains of Pangnirtung. Between the massive mountains, a deep fjord snakes its way past the bay, through the sheer cliff faces and beyond into Auyuittuq National Park. Landing in Pangirtung was magical, and the entire time I was there I was amazed by the land. The first day of the circuit, I had arrived promptly at 9 am, only to find out the first day of circuit starts at 11 am. While normally I would be upset to miss a few more hours of sleep (and a bigger breakfast, of course!), I was lucky enough to see two bowhead whales swim from the bay and up the fjord. There were many whales in the area during the course of the circuit (mostly bowhead and narwhals pushed into the area by the presence of killer whales), and while those were the only I got to see with my own eyes, the excitement of the town was palpable.

I returned from Pangnirtung to find that landing in Iqaluit was now a familiar and comfortable experience, rather than a new and exciting one like it was at the start of the summer.

Following the Herd

Matyas DavidBy David Matyas

It’s a bumpy ride from Rankin to Chesterfield Inlet. A short 15 minute hop and the plane flies low. As we take off, the pilot announces that the caribou herd is off the right side. I’m sat on the left and I crane my neck. I reach for my seatbelt but as the plane pitches and I think better of it. They’re down there all right. A herd I’m told is 100,000 strong. But the hoof beats are drowned by the turbo-prop engines and my vision’s blocked by the passengers across the aisle. Over the week this story repeats itself. Rumours and sightings. But as mighty as the migration is alleged to be, I won’t manage to see the caribou.

I’m travelling to Baker Lake in the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut on the circuit court. It’s the only inland community in the Territory and sits close to the mouth of the Thelon River. Baker is about as close as you can get to the geographic centre of Canada.

For those in Montreal and Toronto who might describe “going north” to Sainte-Agathe or Huntsville, Baker Lake, at the longitudinal midpoint of the country, underscores this thinnest veneer of northern space that most Canadians occupy.

Like many communities in Nunavut, Baker Lake does not have a sitting judge or permanent courthouse. While some matters can be dealt with through teleconferences, others are served through a travelling ‘circuit court.’ Periodically, the crown and defence lawyers, court workers, clerks, translators and judge fly into communities to hold first appearances, preliminary hearings, trials or sentencings. Sometimes they even bring along a summer student, as is the case this week. It’s a migratory court that travels across the North from community to community and back again.

The days before the circuit are spent interviewing clients and meeting with the Crown. The judge and court party have not yet arrived and there is much work to prepare beforehand. Some of the individuals will be in jail by the end of the week. Others will have their matters dismissed.

Defence and crown sit to discuss those matters where a joint position may be possible and determine those issues where agreement will not be possible. Nerves and anticipation of what is to come.

In a break between meetings and research I visit the Jessie Oonark centre. The centre holds a printshop, jeweller’s studio, space for seamstresses and equipment for silk-screening.

I watch one seamstress repairing a hole in a high vis jacket. “We have an exclusive contract with the Meadowbank Mine and repair their clothing” says the gallery steward. Elsewhere, an elder is at a work station making earrings. They are shaped as Kamiks (traditional boots) and made from caribou antler. It is fine, detailed work. Her name is Martha Noah, one of Baker Lake’s accomplished artists and a collaborator of the renowned Simon Tookoome.

When the owners learn that we are in town with the circuit court they remember past court sessions, those rulings they’ve felt unfair or viewed as ill-suited for the community. Stories, nostalgia and the reservations for circuits past.

Without permanent structure, some circuit courts are held in school gymnasiums or community halls. The Baker circuit takes place in the conference room of a local lodge. As the court arrives the first day, the owner of the lodge, a man from the Shetland Islands brought to Northern Canada decades ago to work for the Hudson Bay Company, hangs flags behind the judge’s chair. A Canadian flag on one side of the judge. A Nunavut flag on the other. A room that was silent as a tundra field prepares for the rumble of matters to come.

The first morning of court is fast and busy. Lawyers and the court are trying to clear the easier matters from the docket early and push more complicated issues to latter times. Things get adjourned to the next day or the next circuit court dates in October or December. The room is full and the tempo of proceedings is high. The court workers scramble to track down those accused persons or witnesses who should be in court but have not yet appeared. The hall reverberates with the energy of the court, finally arrived.

Over the next afternoon and day, the court takes over that space. Grazing on legal matters as if it had always resided there. At times it feels like it will always be there. But, gradually it thins as cases are concluded and cleared from the docket.

By the morning of the third day only the stragglers remain. A few lingering matters cut off from the herd of issues before the court on previous days. Crippled cases impaired by missing witnesses or accused who did not show up.  Some of these may join the other cases on future circuits, others never make it past this court.

And then, just as suddenly as it arrived, the circuit court concludes. Those finished matters settling like trampled earth.

As the plane takes to the sky I look again for the caribou herd. From Baker to Chesterfield and onwards to Rankin Inlet, I cast my eyes over the landscape for signs of their passing. But the migration has past, gone with only the faintest of traces that it was ever there.

Qamutik

Matyas David

By: David Matyas

A few weeks ago a friend took me out on the ice. There were three of us with just one snowmobile, and so for the first leg of the journey I rode in a ᖃᒧᑏᒃ (qamutik) attached by thick steel hitch to the back of the Ski-Doo. Though I’d seen qamutiks around Iqaluit, resting next to houses or snow-flecked on the back of a Bombardier or Arctic Fox, it was my first chance to ride the famous sledge.

The qamutik is one of those traditional designs that has maintained its relevance over time and has continued to outperform newer technologies. Explorers from Britain and the United States, who thumbed their noses at the Inuit design at the start of their expeditions, saw sleds imported from Europe reduced to splinters naught but a few miles into journeys. And locally, one friend told me that while many Inuit have replaced dog teams with snowmobiles, the qamutik design has endured, with only the smallest of changes in material.

The first part of our trip crosses the rough ice next to the shore—a field of towering chunks and gnarled fissures, cracked and compacted by a winter of shifting currents and reaching sea-ice. The qamutik heaves. Bounces. I’m tossed and jostled like an apple forgotten in the flatbed of a pickup on a country road. The wood squeaks and flexes but holds fast and before too long we are out on the smooth ice.

The genius of the qamutik design lies in the knots that bind the cross-pieces (or napooks) to the runners. Where the repeated thud of wood on hard ice is enough to wriggle ever the most resolute of nails free from their place, the knots and cord give the design flexibility, allowing it to maintain its integrity as it pounds across the rough terrain.

I’m banged and bruised but the ride is much more fluid on the open ice. The snow-mobile weaves around patches of blue ice and the qamutik bends along behind like a slinky. We stop and look at the mountains on the far side of Frobisher Bay. A small flock of geese flaps over the ice. In a landscape without trees to blow through, I find the wind sounds lower, throatier.

Beyond the functional importance of the qamutik, the traditional sledge-runner is also represented in art and architecture, carvings and design. At the busiest intersection in town, the four corners, there is a large red building designed to look like a qamutik. At galleries around Iqaluit, I’ve seen miniature qamutik carved from caribou antler or serpentine. And, in one of the courtrooms, the barrier (or bar) that separates the gallery from the bench and counsel tables, is made to look like two long qamutiks.

At the far end of the Bay I get out of the qamutik. I hear creaking beneath my feet. The ice, I’m told, will be solid for several weeks. In the interim, puddles form and freeze upon its surface that you can still fall through—not enough to reach the swift tidal current below but sufficient to ruin a good outing. The qamutik floats like a barge on this frozen sea and I return to its safe confines.

As we turn and head back towards town, I look out on islands in Frobisher Bay. They seem to peek through the ice like mountaintops through clouds. I think about the qamutiks represented in the courthouse, wondering how they are meant to relate to justice in the North.

Are they meant to reflect the system as it is? Or, are they presented as aspiration, an allegory of what the system might become? Are efforts like the Gladue reports that are considered when sentencing offenders of aboriginal background the flexible knots in an otherwise harsh carriage of justice as it bumps and crashes across a socio-cultural landscape? I reflect on judicial processes adapted for the context, from decentralization efforts to official Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun language requirements, wondering if they will endure. I think about certain imported features of southern justice and if they are as doomed to fail in this context, like European explorers’ sleds dashed upon the ice.

I hop out of the qamutik feeling privileged to have had the ride. I’ll look at them differently as I walk through town. Hopefully, another chance to ride in a qamutik will glide past again.

Justice on the Go

Etienne F Lacombe

Étienne F. Lacombe

The administration of justice in Nunavut faces a discrete set of challenges, not the least of which is the territory’s vast expanse and geographically sparse population. In order to reach the majority of residents, the Nunavut Court of Justice must travel on circuit. Last week’s circuit in Pond Inlet serves as an example of how the delivery of legal services in the North often requires creativity and flexibility.

First, some background information:

The Nunavut Court of Justice usually sits in Iqaluit, where there is a permanent courthouse. On most weeks, however, it also sits in at least one other community. These sittings occur in school gymnasiums, community halls or other facilities. The frequency at which the Court visits each community varies from every six weeks to every six months, depending on the location’s needs. Each time, a host of staff and legal professionals travel with the Court, including a judge, a prosecutor, defence counsel, a clerk and a court reporter.

Pond Inlet 1

Friday

It’s 6 a.m. Defence counsel arrive at the Iqaluit Airport. Four hours later, the plane touches down on the dirt runway in Pond Inlet. Naptime is over. The lawyers climb down the steps of the aircraft, armed with a stack of files and a healthy dose of patience. This week will be a long one. Efforts to locate clients begin promptly as many of the accuseds do not have a phone. Staff contact the community radio station to advise that lawyers will be meeting all accused persons at the local hotel. Meanwhile, the court worker borrows a relative’s vehicle to locate some of the clients himself.

Saturday and Sunday

The weekend is dedicated to client meetings. Some have made an appointment, others arrive and wait their turn in the lobby. Most of them have never met the legal aid lawyer who will be representing them in a few days. Everyone is forced to share the space. The dining hall becomes a meeting area, as do a few of the hotel rooms. In each meeting, the lawyer reviews the allegations with his or her client and explains the difference between pleading guilty and not guilty. Discussions sometimes come to a standstill as the interpreter must run from one room to the next. At some point during the weekend, the Crown prosecutors arrive with their witness coordinator, and begin conducting meetings of their own. The judge also arrives and meets informally with the lawyers.

Monday

Defence counsel continue their meetings with clients. Some are showing up for the first time, others have returned after reflecting on how they will plead. Later in the day, the defence lawyers review each file with the Crown to consolidate their positions and come to joint resolutions where possible. Everyone then attempts to get a good night’s sleep, despite the 24-hour sunlight. The show starts tomorrow.

Tuesday

Court begins at 9:30 a.m. in the community hall. Dozens of people are in attendance, including accused persons, witnesses and family members. The court clerk works through the docket in a roll call fashion. Bench warrants will be issued for absentees in order to secure their attendance. Crown and defence counsel agree to begin with as many simple files as possible. The day therefore consists mostly of guilty pleas. After sentencing submissions, the elder sitting beside the judge is afforded an opportunity to speak to every accused. He offers guidance, and the judge often quotes from his advice in passing the sentence.

Wednesday

The in-custody accuseds arrive in Pond Inlet. They have been flown in from the Iqaluit jails to be tried in their community. This week, they will be housed in the RCMP detachment cells. Guilty pleas continue. Trials begin in the afternoon. It becomes obvious how dated some of the charges are, having been delayed due to the infrequency of circuits, the availability of witnesses, and a variety of other reasons.

Thursday

The trials continue, interspersed with guilty pleas from files that have been resolved overnight. Systemic pressures become more apparent as the lawyers and the judge speak with increasing candour. Some files must be prioritized while other may not be heard this circuit. By the end of the day, the Court has heard most of the cases. Counsel, the judge and community members dismantle the makeshift courtroom of folding chairs, tables, laptops and mobile internet terminals.

Friday

Defence counsel, prosecutors, court staff, the judge, an RCMP officer and the prisoners board a flight back to Iqaluit. It’s naptime again.

Pond Inlet 2

This play-by-play of a court circuit illustrates some of the unique circumstances under which the delivery of legal services operates in Nunavut. While circuit courts offer a number of advantages in the North, namely allowing the accused to be tried in his or her community and facilitating access to witnesses, they also pose a number of issues. The quality of representation may suffer under heavy dockets or strained schedules, and the continuity of counsel from one sitting to the next cannot be assured. These are but a few of the challenges to practising law on the go.

La détermination des peines au Nunavut : un exercice sui generis

Étienne F. LacombeÉtienne F. Lacombe

Quelles que soient ses connaissances au préalable, l’étudiant(e) qui effectue son stage auprès du bureau d’aide juridique d’Iqaluit ne peut s’empêcher de développer une intime familiarité avec la détermination des peines (sentencing). Qu’un dossier n’en soit qu’à ses débuts ou que la cause tire à sa fin, le criminaliste se doit de pouvoir estimer une peine appropriée – et il revient souvent à l’étudiant(e) de parvenir à une estimation. Il s’agit d’un curieux travail étant donné l’unicité de la criminalité au Nunavut et le peu d’arrêts publiés. D’ailleurs, il est souvent possible de survoler l’ensemble des décisions de la Cour de justice du Nunavut sur une infraction du Code criminel sans y repérer d’arrêts semblables.

Il y a quelques semaines, je discutais de mon travail à Maliiganik Tukisiiniakvik avec un juge de la Cour suprême en visite pour la première fois à Iqaluit. Celui-ci me demanda alors si l’on pourrait qualifier la détermination des peines au Nunavut de sui generis. À mon sens, la détermination des peines dans ce vaste territoire se distingue de celle des autres juridictions canadiennes, quoique la compétence fédérale en matière de droit criminel lui impose tout de même certaines contraintes. D’une part, les juristes nunavummiuts ont su s’approprier les concepts reconnus dans l’ensemble du pays—tels les rapports Gladue et la justice réparatrice—pour y infuser des valeurs inuites et refléter les préoccupations propres à leur territoire. D’autre part, des limites au plan structurel, dont les peines minimales et les ressources au niveau correctionnel, restreignent le caractère sui generis de la détermination des peines au Nunavut.

Les principes qui encadrent la détermination des peines figurent à l’article 718.2 du Code criminel. Parmi ceux-ci, l’alinéa e) impose aux tribunaux « l’examen, plus particulièrement en ce qui concerne les délinquants autochtones, de toutes les sanctions substitutives qui sont raisonnables dans les circonstances et qui tiennent compte du tort causé aux victimes ou à la collectivité ». La Cour suprême s’est prononcée sur cet alinéa dans les arrêts R c Gladue et R c Ipeelee, entre autres, pour prescrire aux juges qui imposent une peine à un délinquant autochtone de considérer toute solution de rechange à l’incarcération. En l’absence de telles solutions, la peine d’emprisonnement devrait être restreinte. Étant donné les tristes réalités historiques et systémiques qui affligent de nombreux accusés, la Cour de justice du Nunavut est en mesure d’imposer avec régularité des sentences qui tiennent compte de l’unicité de la population majoritairement autochtone.

Les juristes nunavummiuts ont également su tailler la détermination des peines à leur façon par le biais de la justice réparatrice. La justice réparatrice existe dans l’ensemble des juridictions canadiennes. Elle permet aux victimes et aux membres de la communauté de joueur un rôle actif pour régler le tort causé par le délinquant en facilitant un dialogue entre les parties, par exemple. Au Nunavut, il existe un comité de la justice dans chacune des communautés du territoire. Ces comités, nous expliqua-t-on lors d’une formation au début de l’été, se servent de valeurs sociétales inuites pour que la justice réparatrice reflète les attentes et les besoins du Nunavut.

Dans certains cas, il est possible pour les juges du Nunavut d’imposer une peine qui tient compte des problèmes sociaux les plus importants du territoire. Les effets de la toxicomanie et de l’abus de stupéfiants, par exemple, se ressentent nommément dans le Nord canadien. Les juges ne se gênent donc pas pour souligner l’importance particulière de lutter contre le trafic de stupéfiants au Nunavut (voir par exemple R v KP et R v Qrunngnut).

Par contre, d’autres préoccupations ne peuvent être convenablement reflétées dans la détermination des peines en vertu des limites au plan structurel. En ce qui concerne la législation fédérale, les peines minimales restreignent le caractère sui generis de la détermination des peines au Nunavut.

Dans un premier temps, la promotion de la culture inuite est particulièrement importante au Nunavut. Bien entendu, il est plus facile pour les détenus inuits de vivre leur culture dans le territoire. Comme me l’expliquait un des gardiens, les employés des prisons territoriales ont pour mandat de faciliter un encadrement culturel pour les détenus. La possibilité de purger sa peine dans un des établissements d’Iqaluit n’est toutefois ouverte qu’aux délinquants condamnés à moins de deux ans de prison. Pour ceux à qui les peines minimales imposent une sentence de deux ans ou plus, le juge ne peut empêcher que l’individu soit transporté à un pénitencier dans l’une des provinces.

Dans un deuxième temps, un défi semblable s’impose quant à l’employabilité. Les juges sont conscients du peu de travail rémunéré qui s’offre à certaines tranches de la population du Nunavut. Pour nombre d’infractions, une peine discontinue permet au délinquant de conserver son emploi en purgeant sa peine la fin de semaine. Puisque cet accommodement n’est disponible que pour les sentences de moins de 90 jours, un juge qui se doit d’imposer une peine minimale de 120 jours, par exemple, se trouve dans la fâcheuse obligation de compromettre l’emploi du délinquant sans savoir s’il pourra le regagner.

Enfin, la disponibilité des ressources sur le plan correctionnel limite la flexibilité dont jouissent les juges du Nunavut dans la détermination des peines. Ailleurs au pays, il est possible pour le tribunal de reporter la détermination de la peine afin que le délinquant puisse participer à un programme de traitement agréé par le gouvernement (voir l’article 720(2) du Code criminel). Or, le gouvernement du Nunavut n’a à ce jour approuvé aucun programme de ce type ; ceux-ci n’existent pas dans les communautés. En effet, les programmes de traitement pour la toxicomanie et la violence conjugale ne sont principalement offerts que dans les prisons. Compte tenu de cette situation, le juge doyen de la Cour de justice du Nunavut constate que « [t]he court has had to adjust its sentencing posture to reflect the stark realities of Nunavut » (R v JN).

Les juges du Nunavut sont appelés à infliger des peines dans un contexte sans pareil. Il n’est donc pas étonnant que ceux-ci se soient approprié les concepts reconnus dans l’ensemble du pays afin que leurs sentences reflètent l’unicité du territoire et de sa population. L’on pourrait ainsi qualifier la détermination des peines au Nunavut de sui generis. Toutefois, force est de constater que certaines préoccupations telles la promotion de la culture inuite et l’employabilité ne peuvent être pleinement prises en compte dans le cadre qu’impose la législation fédérale et la distribution des ressources. C’est dans ces circonstances qu’évolue la détermination des peines au Nunavut : confrontée d’une part par d’uniques problématiques et d’autre part par les bornes qui lui sont imposées.

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