Summary of the Inuit Women and the Nunavut Justice System Workshop


Mary summarized three of the main components of the Nunavut Justice System--the unified court, justices of the peace, and community-based justice. Included in the review were the changes that had taken place as a result of amendments to Bill C-57 - An Act to Amend the Nunavut Act, and a discussion of the previous structure in the Northwest Territories prior to the creation of Nunavut. While the justice system has evolved since the creation of Nunavut (and is still evolving), many initiatives were underway prior to division of the NWT. In particular, community-based justice programs have been underway since the early 1990s.

In summary, parts of the justice system operating in the Nunavut Territory prior to April 1, 1999 have been adopted while other parts of the system have been discarded. Bill C-57 was passed on March 11, 1999. These amendments dealt almost exclusively with changes required to the Nunavut Act that would accommodate the newly proposed court structure for Nunavut—a single-level trial court system. In regards to other components of the administration of justice, such as community-based justice and the role of the justices of the peace, what is being changed and what remains the same is not so clear.

At this point in time, the administration of justice in Nunavut could best be described as a “work in progress.” A detailed description of the unified court, justices of the peace and community justice committees is contained in the paper, From Hips to Hope: Inuit Women and the Nunavut Justice System.

A justice conference held by the Nunavut Social Development Council (NSDC)  in Ranking Inlet, NT from September 1 to 3, 1998 and the resulting report and recommendations is assumed in the report to have a major impact on the direction of and approach taken by the Nunavut Government to reforming the justice system.

Accordingly, it is assumed the two components discussed in this report and not addressed explicitly in Bill C-57—justices of the peace (JPs) and community-based justice initiatives—may also be reformed to reflect the recommendations made at the Nunavut Social Development Council's  (NSDC) justice conference. While the NSDC has no decision-making authority, many Inuit participating in this conference are influential leaders as elected members of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly

Lisa Addario introduced the NSDC recommendations by first summarizing the core values that underlie the specific initiatives:

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