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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Ensuring Space Is Left Open In Canada
Making Room

The Goal of "Justice"

The United States
 Experience

Ensuring Space Is
Left Open In Canada

An Apache
 Paradigm

The Informal
System of Justice

Customary Law

Canada, Too, Has
 Deep Differences

The Indigenous
 Justice Process

The Navajo
 Approach to
 Reconciliation

Visual representation of nature's laws


The justice systems of recognized First Nations must, at last analysis, be a significant factor in their promotion of traditional human values. It is in the traditional justice system where competing values regarding the place of the individual in his/her community, the nature of the social order, the interlocking system of responsibilities of the individual and family and community will be sorted out.

In some First Nations, the forces of evangelical Christianity will have strong influence in designing a justice system. Others will return to a system that seemed to serve well a century ago. Others will devise a modern system that incorporates timeless traditional values. A traditional community in the North may adopt a system quite different than a community near an urban centre.

Whether there will be homogenization over time or increased diversity, and whether there will be a re-evaluation of the usefulness of Euro-Canadian tradition as compared to indigenous tradition, cannot be foreseen from today’s vantage point.

If First Nations are to make their full contribution to Canada, while at the same time providing culturally appropriate "justice" to those within their jurisdiction, space must be left for them to make their contribution in their own way. This is the essence of decolonization.

Essentially, it will be up to the people of a First Nation to ensure their rights to justice are adequately protected by the provisions of its constitution. Those who are not satisfied with the protections judged sufficient by a distinct majority of the people will have to undertake convincing their fellow citizens of the value of their position, or consider whether they should remain in that jurisdiction. If the system is oppressive, the Nation will pay the price that all oppressive nations pay. If the system is progressive, the Nation will reap the benefits.

Systems must be flexible and open enough to accommodate the volatile bi-directional evolution of First Nation cultures. A whole new system of jurisprudence may arise over time relating to First Nation law and its application.

What about appeals? What happens when two jurisdictions each provide decisions that conflict with the other? There is the question of appealing decisions of a justice system applying international standards. There is a need to protect First Nation justice systems from assault by appeals to outside agencies where there is conflict of First Nation rights and Canadian rights.

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