(File photo)

(File photo)

Samson Cree Nation creating restorative justice: ‘Pamihowin’

‘Indigenous people have practiced their own justice system for tens of thousands of years.’

  • Feb. 14, 2021 6:30 a.m.

Chevi Rabbit For Ponoka News

Samson Cree Nation (SCN) is in the early stages of creating restorative justice in the community called “Pamihowin.”

Katherine Swampy, SCN councillor and member of the Pamihowin Standing Committee (PSC) explains, “Pamihowin is the Plains Cree word for restorative justice.”

“Historically Indigenous people have had their own system and whenever it came to justice it was about how to fix the situation. We had ways of identifying how to restore what was done wrong,” said Swampy.

“This is an amazing step. Indigenous people have practiced their own justice system for tens of thousands of years. And that over the last few decades due to colonialism and other oppressive policies we haven’t been able to continue.”

SCN Chief Vernon Saddleback says restorative justice is an initiative he wanted to bring into the community.

“It gives us a little control over the adjudication,” he said, adding restorative justice is about the over-incarceration of Indigenous people in jails.

“It’s about making a justice issue a wellness issue … It’s to bring in support for Indigenous families who are already suffering. It’s also a process of accountability and bringing accountability into people’s lives,” said Saddleback.

“There are other Indigenous Nations that have successfully set up their restorative justice processes and they are finding great success, including an extremely low re-offending rate compared to that of the provincial system,” said Laurie Buffalo, committee member of the PSC.

At this time, SCN has hosted restorative justice sessions led by other Indigenous restorative justice teams. Those sessions were the result of the offender advocating for their individual case or situation to be adjudicated with community involvement, says Buffalo.

“The Nehiyaw (Indigenous) worldview and way of life, the traditional restorative justice process is a system of responsibility and accountability,” she said.

”Responsibility not only for the actions committed, but of the actions required to rebuild the system of trust.

“The traditional process of taking responsibility was not to pick out another for punishment, it was an opportunity to work together on the underlying, often unacknowledged or un-addressed issues, that led to the breakdown or violation experienced. Something somewhere led to a breakdown and that is an opportunity to build back better,” said Buffalo.

“Samson Cree Nation has always held the ultimate goal of having its own courthouse so that our community, through our natural, ceremonial and customary laws and language, is able to adjudicate its own proceedings.”

Pamihowin consists of the standing committee and SCN programs like Nipisihkopahk Wellness, Samson Social Development, the Maskwacis Mobile Mental Health team, community Elders, Indigenous legal practitioners (judges, crown prosecutors and defence lawyers) and restorative justice circle facilitators.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Annual spending on debt interest is closing in on $3 billion

The Town of Sylvan Lake has launched a new contest to attract a new business. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

Alberta reported an additional 399 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, on 9,217 tests, for a test positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer down to 562 active COVID-19 cases

8 new COVID-19 deaths, 399 additional COVID-19 cases

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta’s COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Minister Rick Wilson poses with Katie at the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin, both wearing her Pink Shirt Day design. Facebook/ Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin Boys and Girls club Pink Shirt day design focuses on kindness

Katie with the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin created this year’s Pink Shirt Day design.

Most Read