Fixing structural racism with Indigenous justice

Chief of the Splatsin band and chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, Wayne Christian, says that the federal commitment of $10 million to revitalize Indigenous law and traditions is an important step to erasing the historic racism of Canada’s legal system.

He said the money is being used by First Nations to move from research and reports to implementation of jurisdiction and control for children and families, welfare, land and resource management, and citizenship.

Indigenous people must practice and enforce their own traditional law in a modern context for it to survive, Christian maintains. It must be recognized that their legal traditions are braided together with language and cultural practices — ceremonies and dancing can be legal mechanisms.

“You need to be practicing law for it to be a living entity,” he said.

“Secwépemc legal traditions are part of and derived from the legal orders which are embedded within the social, political, economic, and spiritual institutions of our people. … The recognition and practicing of one’s traditional laws is an act of sovereignty and effectively serves as a process of decolonization through the assertion of the aboriginal right to govern oneself. We must be able to demonstrate the ways in which they have practicality in addressing today’s needs if we are to meaningfully breathe life into them once again.”

Read The Full Article In The Vancouver Sun

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