Cultural Factors

Changes in life are influenced also by cultural factors such as language, beliefs, family roles, gender roles, and family dynamics (Smart, 2009; Smart & Smart, 19916). In addition, a person’s worldview and daily life experiences shape ones quality of life (Meares, 19977), being one of the goals of restorative justice to improve a person’s quality of life. 

Culture: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc. or a way of thinking, behaving, or working

An admittedly simplistic definition of quality of life, for all persons dealing with stressors like incarceration or physical challenge, is satisfaction within multiple life areas (Bishop et al, 20028). Frain and colleagues (20089) further defined quality of life as the "individuals’ perceptions of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns” (p. 17).


Aboriginal Canada has a wide variety of cultural practices. Within the multitude of tribal group each possesses their own distinct forms of art, music, clothing, language and mythology. In many ways this helps these distinct cultures define who has membership or belongs to that particular culture. The cultural practices of the west coast nations is distinct from that of the plains tribes, the east coast nations and the Inuit. Even the Metis people of Canada have developed their own distinct culture.

Knowing your culture and the cultural practices of your people helps to retain a sense of belonging or connectivity even though you may be in the minority.  Many Aboriginal people continue to demonstrate their culture in traditional, yet contemporary ways; a simple example would be the beautiful regalia made by dancers to participate in Pow Wows.

However in the absence of cultural connectivity,  other cultures can be adopted to fill this void. This is often used in the recruitment practices of Aboriginal street gangs, whereby the gang promote their own, often destructive, gang culture.

This has long been the lament of many traditional Aboriginal Elders, when they speak about their communities young people being lost "they don't understand their culture".

 It is important that Aboriginal Justice Workers assist the Courts to understand the significance of cultural connectivity in those cases where the offender is actively involved in practicing their culture. Although this may be more difficult to define than some of the other Gladue factors, it is none the less an important factor.