National Restorative Justice Week
TI welcomed National Restorative Justice week (November 19 to 26) with a gift giving ceremony on Monday, November 19, 2018. TI has been working hard this past year to develop and provide access to justice for Ottawa Urban Inuit. The Inuit Courts & Justice Services (ICJS) of TI has been working closely with Indigenous Peoples Court (IPC) of Ottawa to provide Inuit specific Restorative Justice and Gladue support.
IPC holds sessions twice a week at the Elgin courthouse to handle Indigenous court cases. Prior to the start of each session, a smudging ceremony takes place to honour Indigenous cultural practices with sacred medicines as a way to create a cleansing smoke bath that is used to purify the body, aura, energy and courtroom space. This sets the tone for court proceedings, however this important ceremony was missing the Inuit cultural element. To remedy this, TI commissioned Ernie Kadloo to make a qulliq (traditional oil lamp) that would eventually serve to honour Inuit cultural practices at IPC.
The qulliq represents the strength and resiliency of Inuit society and lighting of the qulliq symbolizes honouring and giving thanks to the ancestors. Traditionally the qulliq was made out of soapstone, the source of fuel was seal oil or blubber and the wick was a combination of Arctic willow seed heads, Arctic cotton and moss. For time immemorial, the qulliq was essential for the survival of Inuit in the harsh Arctic climate, it was the only source of heat, light, ability to cook food and dry clothes.
Justice Célynne Dorval has been instrumental in the successful functioning of the IPC Gladue court. She received the qulliq on behalf of IPC, TI’s Executive Director Jason Leblanc presented the gift followed by a short description and significance of the qulliq provided by Martha Flaherty on behalf of the Ikajuriallaktiit Restorative Justice Committee (IRJC) of Ottawa.
Also present for the ceremony to provide support were, Mark Mongrain who oversees the ICJS programs, Judy Anilniliak – Manager of ICJS, and two members of IRJC – Nikkutai Folger and Lila Shilbey. Missing from the TI staff were Joshua Payer – Restorative Practices Liaison, Blake Thibault – Gladue Writer and Michel Belledent – Gladue Aftercare Worker who were in Saskatoon to attend the National Restorative Justice Symposium.
The ceremony ended with a smudging ceremony by Greg Meekis, Aboriginal Bail Supervisor of Odawa Native Friendship Centre.