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It is valid, in our view, to ask from where that poverty and those social conditions came.Ovide Mercredi, an Aboriginal lawyer and now Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Canada, told us on behalf of Southeast First Nations at Berens River, "It is our conviction that the denial of our collective rights have substantially contributed to the serious problems in our communities."For Aboriginal people, the essential problem is that the Canadian system of justice is an imposed and foreign system.
Repeatedly, for example, we were told that one major problem which contributed to Aboriginal over-representation in the justice system was the socio-economic conditions faced by Aboriginal people throughout the province.Therefore, they need to achieve resolutions that recognize and do not perpetuate historical injustices.The situation involving Aboriginal people and the justice system has deteriorated, rather than improved, in the recent past.In order for a society to accept a justice system as part of its life and its community, it must see the system and experience it as being a positive influence working for that society. Simply providing additional court services in Aboriginal communities or otherwise improving what is inherently a flawed approach to justice is not, in our view, the answer.Those have been the solutions preferred by governments in the past, but it would seem that that approach has been unproductive for government and unacceptable to Aboriginal people.