Monday, February 6, 2017

Helpful Gladue sentencing case

R. v. Mikijuk, 2017 NUCJ 02:

[16] One of these important cases is called the Queen v. Gladue [Gladue] . It is called that because in Canada all criminal prosecutions are done in the name of Her Majesty the Queen. Gladue was the name of the offender in that case. Gladue is a very important case. From the highest court in Canada, the Supreme Court. In fact, the Nunavut Court of Justice is a Gladue court. We serve all Nunavummiut. To make a long explanation short, our court must account for the unique circumstances of the Inuit people, their history, and society. And, importantly today, how this reality has had an impact on Mr. Mikijuk.

[17] Nunavut is a beautiful, wonderful land. It is a great place to live. Nunavummiut are deservedly proud of their ancient heritage and history. All of us who live here are enriched by Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.

[18] But, Nunavut is in crisis.  I must take this fact into account.

[19] Alcohol abuse is tearing apart our society. Binge drinking for many is a normal part of life. Alcohol abuse  is destroying the lives of Nunavummiut. Alcohol abuse is tearing apart families. Alcohol abuse fills our child protection dockets - right across the territory. Alcohol abuse is filling our jails. Offenders convicted of serious alcohol-related crime are thrown into the maw of southern prisons; isolated and far from home. Every court circuit, we learn bootlegging is rampant. Everywhere. The Liquor Act' and past sentences have not been, and are not, effective deterrents. Bootleggers don't just sell alcohol; bootleggers callously and calculatedly purvey human misery. Our sentencing regime should reflect that fact.

[20] Seventeen years after division from the NWT, there is still no residential treatment facility in Nunavut. Nunavummiut who belong in secure residential treatment wind up in jail. Those few Nunavummiut who are lucky enough to get residential treatment are sent south. Again, where they are isolated and far from home. Those few frontline responders we have are given few resources to deal with the epidemic of alcohol's victims. Few resources are available to help our many neighbours who suffer from real mental health concerns, like Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The need to address these issues is urgent.

[21] In my lifetime, Inuit were  forced off the land. Many were moved, sometimes forcibly, by alien authority into artificial and isolated communities. Children were taken from the bosoms of their families and sent to far away residential schools. One of the purposes of these schools was to supplant their culture and language. That painful legacy reverberates today. Sexual predators like Cloughley, De Jaeger, and Horne victimized significant numbers of an entire generation. Their victims suffer still and so do their families. The Inuit world and very way of life was turned upside down.

[22] Inuit society is still adjusting to that collective trauma. Jobs of any kind outside Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet are scarce. What little economy there is government and mineral exploration driven. There is an ongoing and serious housing crisis. Overcrowding plagues many Nunavummiut. Overcrowding affects their health. It adds stress to an already hard life. It contributes to our shocking domestic violence statistics. Safe houses for families in distress are few and far between. A shocking number of our children go to school hungry. Social and recreational infrastructure is woefully lacking. Time and time again we are told that utter boredom leads many youth into delinquency. For some, despair and misery lead to thoughts that suicide is an option. Our suicide rate is many times the national average. Thirty-two Nunavummiut killed themselves in 2016.5

[23] The Nunavut Court of Justice cannot judge offenders fairly without acknowledging and understanding the real impact of this reality on Nunavummiut.

[24] Gladue is a constant reminder to everyone in our justice system. It reminds us that justice, if it is to approach true justice, must be rooted in the community it serves. Gladue informs every decision we make. It is the lens through which we look at every case. Every sentence of the Nunavut Court of Justice involving an lnuk is a Gladue sentence. So, there is never a specific Gladue credit.

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