(File photo)

(File photo)

Samson Cree Nation creating restorative justice: ‘Pamihowin’

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

Katherine Swampy
Maskwacis chiefs are opposed to RAPID Response

Alberta Treaty 6 First Nations say they were not properly consulted

UCP Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr spoke to the Ponoka Chamber about the potential a new provincial government would provide to help support small business.
File photo
MLA Ron Orr: ‘Our constituents … want us to defend their livelihoods and freedoms’

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA stands with 15 other UCP members calling out retreat on restrictions

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Four provinces to sign memorandum of understanding to explore small nuclear reactors

Alberta government said in August that it would enter into the agreement to help diversify its energy sector

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

File photo
City of Wetaskiwin awarded $5.1 million grant for additional RCMP officers

10 Additional RCMP officers to serve the City of Wetaskiwin as a result of the grant.

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Most Read