International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss


“Native Ethics and Rules of Behaviour” in the Criminal Justice Domain: A Career in Retrospect
Dr. C.(Cathy) Prowse

In a 1990 article of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Clare Brant, a medical doctor who spent a career practicing psychiatry among his people, the Mohawk, wrote of how cultural influences in the realm of mental health contributed to errors in medical diagnosis and treatment, too often with destructive results. This article similarly examines the manifestation of Brant’s “Native ethics and rules of behaviour” only this time the venue for misinterpretation is the criminal justice domain where the results have proven equally as destructive for Aboriginal peoples. In this article, the author examines how Aboriginal cultural ethics that evolved over time as a means of suppressing intra-group rivalry and conflict - while emphasizing conciliation and restoration - have negatively defined the Aboriginal experience within our prevailing adversarial criminal justice system. Specific examples spanning two decades from both the courts and policing are included to both illuminate and lend perspective to this “cultural divide”.

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