Colonialism led to such alienation that Indigenous offenders can be unaware of or can’t document their ancestry and the effects of assimilation on their life in order to benefit from compensatory sentencing provisions, a B.C. Court of Appeal division says.

Judges do not function as “gatekeepers” of Indigenous identity, the three-justice panel noted in rejecting the appeal of a violent thug with more than eight assault convictions who argued his dangerous offender designation and indeterminate sentence should be overturned in part because he “recently learned” he was of Métis ancestry.

Justice Elizabeth Bennett explained the “methods of assimilation are often the very things that give rise to an Indigenous person’s alienation from their Indigenous community or culture.”

“Thus, not everyone with Indigenous roots can prove those roots,” she said. “The government’s system of assimilation was, in many ways, ‘successful.’ It resulted in many Indigenous people being partially or totally estranged from their Indigenous heritage and disconnected from their culture, their community, and their support. This disconnection is intergenerational and acts as a barrier to realizing the principles enunciated in (the Supreme Court of Canada decisions known as) Gladue (1999) and Ipeelee (2012).”

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Peter Stone and I huddled in a poorly constructed cabin in the tiny remote community of Lower Post on the Liard River just south of the Yukon border — it was well below -15 outside and although the stove was working ceaselessly the chinks in the logs quickly exhaled the warmth.

“My legs are dead,” Old Dan Lutz told us between plugs of chewing tobacco.

The federal government assigned him 1901 as the year of his birth, but he claimed to be older.

In a voice filtered through tobacco juice and laughter, Lutz recited his first encounter with a white man.

“I thought it was a ghost with whiskers riding a moose.”

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Evidence at the inquiry into money laundering suggests that racial stereotypes may be driving and skewing the dirty money debate when a careful analysis does not support the concern.

Lawyer David Butcher hit that nerve in his cross-examination of Len Meilleur, a key bureaucrat for more than a decade and former executive director of compliance at the province’s gaming policy and enforcement branch.

“Would you agree that it is completely inappropriate to simply draw that link — money from China must be illegitimate?” Butcher asked.

Meilleur replied: “I don’t have a comment on that.”

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The Big Brother need for more surveillance, less privacy and a more robust apparatus to combat dirty money has become a major theme at B.C.’s inquiry into money laundering.

To serve and protect has become to surveil and predict, as one report put it, and no more so than among those battling money laundering.

No one so far, however, has presented credible evidence about whether the scope of the problem justifies the exorbitant cost for specialized software, training, analysts, investigators, enforcement, adjudication, or the heavy-handed trampling of privacy and other rights.

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Brandishing a U.S. tribal-law text like holy writ, B.C. lawyer Doug White insisted Indigenous peoples can have the same in Canada — their own laws, police and courts.

At a key meeting in November 2018 at the B.C. legislature involving government and Indigenous leaders, he pulled aside Attorney-General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and pointed across the Juan to Fuca Strait at Washington State.

“I waved this book around,” he vividly re-enacted, “and said I want you guys to know what this is. Look across at the southern part of the Coast Salish world … and you will find Coast Salish courts with Coast Salish judges applying Coast Salish law. In the north here, it’s a completely different history of exclusion.

“If we are being serious about shifting into a period of rights recognition … if we are serious about the U.N. declaration, we have to be talking about the implementation of self-determination in terms of justice.

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