Indigenous Wisdom for 2018…

Dec 31, 2017

Cindy Blackstone   (Twitter at  – scroll down a bit and they are in reverse order starting with #11)  Indigenous advocate and educator Blackstone offers 11 suggestions for government to change the relationship with Indigenous people through the recs of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  A fine reflection for the New Year – with a broad application!

Mizana Gheezhik (Sen. Murray Sinclair):  “Our children do not set out in life to fail. Our children are the ongoing prize in the cultural war that Canada declared against us over 150 years ago. Canada may believe that the war is over, but until the automatic weapons it created as part of that war, have been taken from their hands or altered in fundamental ways, or disabled totally, the war continues of its own momentum…  The Child Welfare System, the Youth Justice System and the Educational System all function from the inherent, fundamental, belief, that we as parents in our own communities do not have the right to birth, raise, educate, discipline and protect our children from Canada’s inherent racism.”

Vancouver Sun –
This week in History – 1921: Mass arrests at Kwakwaka’wakw potlatch took place Christmas Day

Here’s a savoury exercise for anyone struggling with the issues around Indigenous people in Canada.  There was a time, and in the memory of the current older generation, when the exercise of culture was a criminal offence.  Apologies need to ring loud and frequent for these sort of abuses.  The memory of these type events is the best safeguard against repetition.

Foreign Policy Magazine (US) – Max Boot
2017 Was the Year I Learned about My White Privilege – I used to be a smart-alecky conservative who scoffed at “political correctness.” The Trump era has opened my eyes.

This is a coming-to-the-light article, appropriate for whatever new beginning we may envision for 2018, in Canada and the US.  It invites self assessment for the unconscious part the White population has played in both racism and sexism while drawing attention to the similar cultural historic experiences that have shaped our lives.

London Free Press – Jennifer Bieman and Randy Richmond
Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre inmate Justin Struthers died in jail Boxing Day

There is a little more info available now on the inmate death at Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC).  The dead man, Justin Struthers, was a father of twin girls, the fifth inmate death this year at the jail.  London police say the autopsy has been done and that no foul play suspected.  “The death of Justin Struthers of Goderich on Boxing Day has raised questions, again, about how inmates are screened for mental illness, protected from self-harm and monitored at EMDC.”   Related article: Globe and Mail – Lindsay Jones Nova Scotia launches inquiry into veteran’s triple murder-suicide

The Guardian (UK) – Rowena Mason
One in five female prisoners are homeless after release, data shows – Labour attacks ‘shocking’ failure of privatised probation companies after proportion doubles in a year

In the UK a considerable proportion of parole services has been assigned to private companies.  Webster is drawing attention to the failure for follow-up displayed in the lack of housing for former women inmates supervised by the private firms.  The number of women under supervision doubled this year but the homelessness went up by 12%.  Said shadow justice minister Imram Hussain:  “This is yet another damning indictment of the failure of the community rehabilitation companies to meet even the most basic of needs of offenders.”

Pro Publica (US) – Sarah Smith
‘What Are We Going to Do About Tyler?’

This is a chilling story that should inform all adjudications around young offenders and is serving to spark a movement to end juvenile imprisonment in the US.  The story crosses youth detention into the realm of deplorable mental health services as well, a reality very much part of Mississippi justice.   Related article: Justice Policy Institute (US) – Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Package

In Justice Today – Harvard Law School / Fair Punishment (US)
The Top Criminal Justice Wins of 2017 – John Legend and Carimah Townes

Despite what many consider an ‘annus horribilis’ for US justice issues, Harvard in its Fair Punishment publication has found a goodly number of positive developments in the field of justice, enough to at least invite many back a little at least from the fear and despair that current events are doing irreparable damage to fairness and real justice.   Related article: USA Today – Eileen Rivers   Re-entry into society, or back to prison?

CBC News – Megan Grant
Drunk driving to be largely decriminalized in Alberta in 2018 – Police to be given wide discretion whether to lay criminal charges or issue roadside sanctions

Alberta appears about ready to follow the example of BC in the policing of drunk driving.  It appears that Alberta is ready to give wide discretionary power to police at a roadside stop about how confront the incident and whether to pursue criminal charges.  “British Columbia’s approach (is) with fines, roadside towing and licence suspensions issued by police instead of criminal charges being laid… The changes follow an Alberta Court of Appeal decision in May that struck down existing drunk driving laws. The province’s top court found tying the suspension of a driver’s licence to the outcome of their court case was unconstitutional.”