Sentencing Circles - Traditional Justice Reborn

Doug Cuthand and Vicki Hunter Covington

1995, 44:45 minutes, colour, English


This one hour special is the first television documentary to explore the re-emergence of a thousand year old tradition, the use of the Sentencing Circle as a means for a community to determine an appropriate punishment for crimes by members of that community. A growing number of Aboriginal people and even non-Aboriginal inmates are requesting their own Sentencing Circles. What are the implications for our existing judicial system? We witness an actual Sentencing Circle for fifteen year old Jarvis Spear Chief held recently on a Southern Alberta Reserve. We hear his case along with Crown Prosecutors, a judge, RCMP officers, community members, elders, care givers, the offender, the victim and special guest. Step-by-step we participate in this traditional process under the guidance of Reg Crow Shoe, Director of Development, Oldman River Cultural Centre, a process used effectively for centuries, before the coming of white man's justice. Then in a completely different environment, a modern city, we visit with Ivan Morin, a Metis who participated in the first official urban Sentencing Circle performed in Canada to date.

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