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Date of Award

10-1998

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Anthropology

Supervisor

Professor Wayne Warry

Abstract

This applied, participatory action research explores the context for community-based justice and conflict resolution mechanisms in Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation. Within the pluralistic Canadian context, Aboriginals ways of law and social control are being reasserted by some First Nations both as a basic right, and as a means of "healing" their communities of the debilitating effects of colonization. This research shows a community in flux, where jural values are divergent and changing, but one in which a distinctive approach to some aspects of social disruption and its resolution is apparent. Like a number of other Aboriginal communities, Sagamok experiences a high level of interpersonal violence, and "mischief" committed by youths in need of improved life opportunities. Community members indicated through this research that they eschew incarceration for most offences in favour of a communicative, rehabilitative response to crimes. They want to strengthen communicative ties to young offenders, and use local resources to address their behaviours. In this and other basic jural values, Sagamok Anishnawbek have shown a preference for restorative justice whereby restitution and reparation take place within a personally relevant social context. In doing so, they model recent "innovations" in criminal case processing. Restoring justice goes far beyond dealing with crime, however, to addressing intracommunal conflicts and tensions. At present, the values and norms relating to conflict and its resolution revealed through this research are manifest chiefly at the individual level. If a justice model is to be developed, such basics need to be discussed and debated at the community level, through communicative process such as community consultations. If Sagamok residents are to discuss and debate these building blocks of a justice system and develop locally appropriate model, they will need to address some fundamental community development needs, one of which is the need for processes of conflict resolution within and between family groups.

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