Indigenous peoples are overrepresented in Canadian prisons, and victimization and vulnerabilities are not well understood. While there has been a movement to address and remedy the effects of colonialism through restorative justice, Indigenous communities, social scientists and legal professionals agree that the current Canadian justice system is not working for Indigenous peoples.
CBU professor and researcher Tuma Young, along with a team of Elders, legal scholars, justice practitioners and knowledge keepers are coming together to address these issues. Their work, L’nuwey Tplutaqan Mawio’min: Traditional Gatherings to Discuss the Development of a Research Agenda to Explore Mi’kma’ki Legal Principles and to Establish an L’nuwey Legal Institute in Atlantic Canada, has been awarded a Tri-Agency Indigenous Research Capacity and Reconciliation Connection Grant of $50,000.
“Reconciliation in our justice institutions and structures has not been an easy journey to date,” says Young. “This grant and the research findings will lay the foundation for a renewed relationship between the L’nu and the legal/justice system in Nova Scotia.”
Young and his team will be designing a research agenda to frame a Mi’kma’ki based response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commision of Canada’s calls to action. They will begin by hosting two regional participatory action research events with the goal of mapping out justice priorities, establishing the groundwork for an L’nuwey legal institute, mobilizing Indigenous knowledge and forming partnerships for reconciliation while supporting Indigenous research.
Following the events, key stakeholders will begin the dialogue with L’nu lawyers, judges and other interested parties to explore how L’nuwey Tplutaqan (Mi’kmaq legal principles and laws) can be incorporated into the current justice system.
“CBU is positioned to be a strong leader in L’nuwey Research,” says Young. “The University has very good relationships with a number of L’nu communities and has a proven track record of providing a quality educational experience for L’nu students. It also has strong collaborative research relationships built upon the Two Eyed Seeing approach developed by the late Murdina Marshall and her husband Albert Marshall. This project will celebrate and carry on those collaborative partnerships.”