Community Influences  

If you believe in the old adage "it takes a whole village to raise a child” then you can understand the level of influence that the community has in shaping the people who reside there.

Many factors have shaped how Aboriginal communities function. Treaties, the Indian Act, and other Acts or Legislation have all served to shape Aboriginal communities. This is also true when considering tribal affiliations, linguistics, or in some cases spiritual and cultural practices.

The history, social and economic development of the community also plays a role in shaping the lives of the aboriginal people who reside there.

Although many people define Aboriginal communities as being First Nation or a Reserve this may not always be true. In non-aboriginal urban settings there may be large numbers of Aboriginal people or families residing in the same district of a large urban center, who interact in the same way as other Aboriginal rural or First Nation communities.

How each community has responded to these external influences is unique and it is important for justice officials to understand how these factors have either, positively or negatively, influenced the person appearing before the Court.

In the same way, these factors may have also influenced the type and availability of services that are accessible to community members.

Since many court officials will  have limited opportunities to visit an Aboriginal community, the Aboriginal Justice Worker's information needs to paint that picture for them. It is important to remember that the life experiences, values and training of many justice officials will be very different than many Aboriginal people and this can create a barrier to understanding the dynamics and functionality of the Aboriginal community.

Gladue Tip: keep the community information relevant to the matter before the court

you may want to make a template of relevant information about the community that the Judge will find useful; this will help remind the Judge about the community the offender resides in and is helpful when new or different Judges circuit to that court

keep an inventory of programs or services in the community which you update regularly; the Judge will need this information when he considers treatment options in sentencing

remember that community background and program availability is only relevant if you can show the impact it can have on the behavior of the person appearing before the court