Review of the Nunavut Community Justice Program: Final Report

1. Introduction


1.1 Background

The Community Justice Program was developed by the Government of the Northwest Territories as part of the Community Empowerment Initiative of 1993. The responsibility for youth justice programming was moved from the Department of Health and Social Services to the newly developed Community Justice Division of the Department of Justice. With the creation of Nunavut on April 1, 1999, the program became a part of the Corrections and Community Justice Division in the Nunavut Department of Justice.

The Government of Nunavut has continued the commitment to a system of community-based justice. This means that Nunavut Justice aims, through its Community Justice Program, to support communities in taking greater responsibility for offenders and victims. It also means that the department has emphasized prevention and healing at the community level in an attempt to shift complete reliance away from the mainstream approaches involving formal charges, court appearances and incarceration.

As a basic premise, Nunavut Justice aims to ensure that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit[3] underlies any programs that it puts in place. The Department has established an IQ Working Group, consistent with a more general IQ initiative throughout the Government of Nunavut. The actualization of IQ in government departments is an ongoing task. It is guided, however, by a series of principles identified by the government task force. These principles include Inuit approaches to certain categories of action. In Nunavut Justice, for example, principles of inclusiveness and cooperative decision-making are valued. At the community level, respect for the wisdom of Elders and their approaches to handling interpersonal conflicts through counseling are recognized as being important. The categories and fuller details regarding their definition form Appendix 1 of this report.

The conditions and challenges facing Nunavut are in many ways unique within Canada. The Community Justice Program has therefore required innovation in its design and delivery; for example, the commitment to IQ. At a point almost five years after the establishment of the Nunavut Department of Justice, it is appropriate to review the program. The results should assist both Nunavut Justice and Justice Canada as they continue to work on addressing issues in Nunavut. The results may also be of interest to other jurisdictions - in Canada and internationally - which are working towards an effective community-based justice system.

1.2 Purpose of the Review

The Department of Justice Canada, in collaboration with Nunavut Justice, undertook this program review with the following objectives:

  1. to determine if the Community Justice Program is meeting its mandate and objectives as currently established;
  2. to determine if the mandate and structure of the Community Justice Program reflects the Program's current and future needs; and
  3. to determine if the Community Justice Program provides effective alternatives to the formal justice system.

The research for this project was undertaken by Dr. Scott Clark, Ottawa and James Arreak, Iqaluit.

[3] Sometimes Inuit traditional knowledge is described as "The Inuit way of doing things: the past, present and future knowledge, experience and values of Inuit Society" (see Terms of Reference of the Department of Justice Working Group, Nunavut Department of Justice, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Working Group). Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit hereafter will be referred to as IQ.

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