Nunavut Justice Issues: An Annotated Bibliography

4.  Annotated Bibliography

Allaklak, Elizabeth and Vera Kameda. “Culture and Recreation Programs as Crime Prevention” in Justice and Northern Families In Crisis… In Healing… In Control.  Burnaby: Northern Justice Society, Simon Fraser University, 1994.

This article, part of a workshop compendium, examines the impact and role of organized recreation on crime prevention. The participants discuss how it is that recreation and play prevent young children from beginning to engage in criminal activity and supplies diversion for those youths that have already begun.  It addresses the Northern environment and speaks to lessons learned

General Overview

This article is part of a larger collection that addresses the transitional status of many Northern families from a situation of crisis to one of control through healing.  Through their dialogue with the audience members Allaklak and Kameda addressed the very important but often ignored role of recreation and play in crime prevention, especially in the North.  Many issues came out of the exchange of questions and comments.  The resource persons for this particular discussion were Elizabeth Allaklak (Government Liaison Officer, GNWT, Resolute Bay, NWT) and Vera Kameda (Recreation-Tourism Industry Consultant, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation, Dryden, Ontario). 

Underlying Themes

  • The participants held that the best approach to justice in the North is to help children develop self-esteem and positive community values. 
  • Recreational programs and a recreational committee are very important, particularly in relatively isolated communities such as Resolute Bay, NWT.
  • Recreation and play is integral to developing self-esteem, reinforcing the idea of belonging to a community, and helping an individual learn about themselves - their interests, strengths, weaknesses.  Recreation and play also assists individuals to better understand and interact with their environment while reinforcing positive social norms.
  • Organized recreation does not just happen; it is not a spontaneous occurrence.  It requires organization through planning and consultation so that the resulting efforts are, in fact, fun and pleasurable for the youths.

Findings and Issues addressed in the dialogue

The role of organized recreationand positive leisure time activity: Such activities can operate to prevent the involvement of Inuit youth in criminal or anti-social activity.  Organized recreation addresses boredom, thereby preventing crime (often youth admit they committed a crime or an anti-social act because they were bored). It also encourages the development of relationships and a sense of belonging to groups larger than oneself.  This instills a sense of responsibility and belonging.  Finally, organized recreation teaches children and youths about themselves and their personality.  This instills a sense of ownership over one’s actions.

Games and recreational activities are a part of Inuit tradition: The participants spoke of many activities that they considered traditional activities.  Thumb games, Inuit wrestling, and football with mooseskins were some that were mentioned.

Activities need to vary: They cannot be prescribed because they have to reflect the interests of the participants.  There has to be an incorporation of the youth’s interests within the organized activity.  If there is something they want to do, the participants recommend encouraging them and supporting the activity.  Some audience members spoke of their surprise when youths wanted to learn martial arts or rap dancing, but they happily put the effort in to provide that activity.  The youths have to set the curriculum, otherwise they will not enjoy the activity. 

Activities taking place: There are a number of activities going on in many Northern communities that utilize the principles behind this discussion: wilderness camps where the youths learn traditional skills, inter-community sports leagues, drumming, international showcases, white-water canoeing, and snowboarding,

Addressing the challenges to utilizing recreation in Northern communities: There are a number of challenges that must be addressed: Getting people and youths interested is not always easy and low levels of interest in the community have to be overcome.  Another challenge is limited resources – human and financial.  It is difficult in many communities to find individuals who are willing to organize events, listen to what the kids want to do and try and get that happening in the community.  When those individuals are available, there are often limited financial resources to make some of the activities possible.  The participant’s response to these challenges is to ensure that these activities are owned and developed by the community.  The participants stated that if the community owns it, the community would have a desire to be involved and this may address low community involvement.  Further, although limited funding can be a problem, the participants suggest the community members look to what their particular environment has to offer and plan activities within it.

Cyclical / reinforcing effect of recreation: These activities have the potential to strengthen the community.  By organizing recreational activities for youths, adults and Elders in the community are helping themselves. There are generations of Northerners who were taken from the community and, as a result, lost their knowledge of how to play on the land.  By encouraging and facilitating the activities for children, they too are being (re)taught how to play.

Avison, Don, Alice Mackenzie and Helen Nuvalik Tolonganak.  “The Changing Role of Native Courtworkers in Northern Justice Society”, Self-Sufficiency in Northern Justice Issues Burnaby: Northern Justice Society, Simon Fraser University, 1992.

This article, part of a workshop compendium, describes the important roles played by Native Courtworkers.  Through examining the variety of functions they fulfill for both the community and the circuit court, this program plays a vital role in justice delivery in the North and must be given further support.  Courtworkers often act as lawyers and they are the voice of the community in many cases.  This cannot be overlooked when discussing justice in the North.  This piece addresses the Northern environment, lessons learned, and the relationship with the mainstream criminal justice system.

General Overview

This article is a part of a larger collection that addresses the potential for criminal justice self-sufficiency in the North and some of the strategies that communities can use to facilitate it.  The participants are often front-line community workers and through their dialogue and commentaries some of the important issues on the topic are uncovered. The discussion is led by a resource person(s) and the information they provide is often not scripted, but spontaneous discussion and sharing of experiences.

The participants discuss the fundamental role of Native Courtworkers in the delivery of justice in the North.  They also examine the particular challenges that the Northern environment presents for the Courtworkers.  These issues must be incorporated into reform initiatives.  In this workshop the roles of the Courtworkers in remote Northern communities were explored as well as the challenges they face. Nunavut agencies, although certainly focusing on community-based justice initiatives, will have to rely on the Courtworker to continue facilitating justice in the North. These voices make clear that the challenges that Native Courtworkers face in meeting their professional goals must be part of the reform agenda.  The resource persons for this workshop included Don Avison (General Counsel/Director, Department of Justice, Yellowknife, NWT), Alice Mackenzie (Mackenzie Courtworkers Services, Yellowknife, NWT) and Helen Navalik Tolonganak (Courtworkers Supervisor, Courtworker Program, Kitikiemeot Regional Council, Cambridge Bay, NWT).

Underlying Themes from the Dialogue

  • Courtworkers are an integral component of justice delivery in the North.  They will continue to play an important role as long as the infrastructure of justice is administered from outside the community and is in the form of a circuit court.
  • The important roles that Native Courtworkers have are the result of the circuit court system of justice and the inadequate justice services they make available to Northern communities. 


Native Courtworkers have a number of roles: Clients and lawyers in the North often do not speak the same language (many Northern residents only speak Inuktitut while many of the lawyers and judges only speak English and/or French).  As a result, Courtworkers often act as interpreters and translators between clients and their lawyers and clients and the court.  They explain the criminal justice system to the accused and in some cases they act as a paralegal, representing the accused when counsel is not available. Courtworkers convey the needs, values and interests of the communities to the courts and assist in making communities meaningful to the courts. They are able to do this through their Inuktitut interviews and/or because of their experience with(in) the community.  Courtworkers also invest a lot of time in developing personal relationships and spending time with the community.  This helps to ensure that their activities are as relevant to the community as possible and they are able to do the most effective job possible.  The Courtworkers in the discussion recognized that this is a key element in assisting the community in any meaningful way.

The challenges Native Courtworkers face: The participants held that the major problem facing Native Courtworkers in Northern communities is the lack of an effective professional support system.  They have an awesome responsibility in that they are often the only person in the community that others depend on for information and assistance in legal matters.  Being alone in this responsibility can often result in professional isolation. This, combined with the geography of the North and the isolated nature of many Northern Inuit communities can contribute to a sense of being abandoned.

Future directions for Native Courtworkers: In this workshop, the participants discussed the idea of enlarging the role of the Courtworkers (officially) within the Justice of the Peace courts. There was mixed support for the initiative.  They spoke of how such an approach would better serve the legal needs of the communities, how it may address some of the limitations of the advers process and how such an approach may better meet the needs of the victim.  The move was also seen by some of the participants as a limited direction for reform.  Such an expansion, which focuses on better delivery of the formal justice system, does not represent a community-based path.  Justices of the Peace courts are still working within the framework of the larger criminal justice system, its form and content, and serves the interests of the larger system, not necessarily the community.

Date modified: