Justice for Natives: Searching for Common Ground
Contains Photos, Bibliography
David Mardiros is a lawyer and anthropological consultant in Terrace,
Justice for Natives contains 35 essays taken from three conferences
convened between 1990 and 1992 to discuss justice issues as they affect
Native peoples. The individual papers, from aboriginal and nonaboriginal
lawyers, scholars, educators, and politicians, represent a remarkable
diversity of subject matter and opinion that reflect the conferences’
themes, which ranged from the failures and weaknesses of the current
system, to the nature of Canadian–Native relations in the wake of the
Oka crisis, to proposals for the development of justice systems that
better suit the needs of Native people. Given that some of these papers
were written some eight years ago, they provide a useful means of
evaluating whether the discussion has advanced since 1990.
Panel discussions, which are presented in the book after each set of
papers, are perhaps the most interesting feature of the collection.
These discussions contain sharp exchanges between community members and
panel participants and serve to highlight the diversity of opinion in
Native communities. In this way the book provides a useful balance to
the formal positions articulated by Native leaders, community
representatives, and aboriginal and nonaboriginal professionals. These
open exchanges—some of the most heated occur between lawyers debating
the impact of recent court decisions on Native rights and the direction
future court challenges should take—also serve to point out how
different the experiences of the various communities have been. Two
groups in particular—the Mohawks of Kanesetake and the Cree of
Northern Quebec—point to the importance of developing solutions to the
problems they face with the justice system that take into account their
historical (and cultural) experiences and perspectives.
For a general readership, this book’s diversity and divergence of
opinion is its greatest appeal.