Circular Courtroom for Restorative Justice Programs
Excerpted from the Calgary Herald
Natives to bless circular courtroom
by Jamie Komarnicki, February 6, 2009
Full article at: http://tinyurl.com/calgarycourt
Native elders and justice officials will hold a traditional blessing ceremony today for a room in the Calgary Courts Centre modelled after an aboriginal peacemaking court.
The circular room on the 18th floor of the courthouse isn't specifically designated an aboriginal court, justice officials say. But its design and ventilation system, which allows for smudging ceremonies, reflect native culture and tradition, said Alberta Justice spokeswoman Kim Misik.
"It was designed for use by both aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures who might prefer to use a circular setting as opposed to a courtroom setting," Misik said.
Elders from the Tsuu T'ina, Blood, Siksika, Morley and Piikani reserves will burn sweetgrass and ask for blessings for the room in a traditional smudging ceremony, said Barbara Milmine, executive director of Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative, which helped organize the event.
"I think there's also definitely a relevance to exploring culturally appropriate alternate models," Milmine said. "It says a lot that Alberta Justice is looking to expand their ideas to include culturally sensitive models of engaging people in the justice system in an appropriate way."
The Calgary courtroom is modelled after the Tsuu T'ina Nation's court, which was lauded as a trailblazer in restorative justice when it began as a pilot project in 1999.