Reclaiming Aboriginal Justice, Identity, and Community


238 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-895830-21-4
DDC 342.71'0872





Reviewed by David Mardiros

David Mardiros is a lawyer and anthropological consultant in Terrace,
British Columbia.


Aboriginal justice programs have developed in various parts of Canada in
an attempt to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the
justice system and, in particular, the incarceration of Aboriginal
people in disproportionate numbers. Most of these justice programs have
been begun in smaller communities or on a reserve, contexts that offer
the possibility of familial, cultural, and social supports for both
offenders and victims. Craig Proulx’s study of the Community Council
Project (CCP) is an analysis of a model for Aboriginal justice that was
developed in a very different environment—the City of Toronto.

Although Toronto provides a unique set of challenges for developing a
model of community-based justice, much of the ground covered by Proulx
in the initial chapters of the book will be familiar to anyone who has
followed the development of what is commonly called restorative justice.
What makes this book compelling is the author’s description of how the
project has influenced the development of a sense of identity and
belonging—its active involvement in building community rather than
simply providing a service to the community. That the CCP has achieved
some successes in a context where the bonds of a traditional
“community” may not initially be present is in large part
attributable, Proulx argues, to the project’s flexibility—it will
apply culturally specific resources or resort to pan-Aboriginal
traditions depending on what is appropriate in the particular

The lessons of community building learned in a place like Toronto,
where project participants do not share a single language, a cultural
tradition, or even a residential setting, can prove useful for
on-reserve justice programs as well. As Proulx points out, to be
successful Aboriginal justice programs must actively involve a great
number of community members who have a diversity of experience if both
offenders and victims are to experience restorative justice in its full
sense. Proulx’s work has important lessons to teach in terms of
capacity building and community development and will be of interest to
those with an interest in the problems faced by Native communities in
both urban and rural areas.


Proulx, Craig., “Reclaiming Aboriginal Justice, Identity, and Community,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed November 29, 2023,