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FROM THE OJEN BLOG

Workshop Introduces Nunavut Youth to Criminal Law System

Approximately 60 Inuit youth in Nunavut were introduced to the processes and goals of the criminal law system in workshops designed by OJEN for the Law Society of Nunavut.  

During the week of September 16th to 20th, OJEN facilitated three workshops with the Law Society of Nunavut in partnership with Nunavut Legal Aid, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and the RCMP.  In the hamlet of Pangnirtung it ran twice, so that the entire student population of Attagoyuk High School could participate.  The Makkuttukkuvik Youth Centre also hosted the workshop for attendees of its drop-in program in Iqaluit.

The workshop was centered on a mock criminal scenario involving youth in a northern community.  With the scenario as its starting point, the workshop participants followed the criminal law process from arrest to trial and then finally to sentencing in a series of interactive activities.

In the first segment, RCMP officers and defence counsel demonstrated the arrest process, with teachers and other adults taking the role of the accused person.  The class talked through the rights and responsibilities of the both the accused and the officer.  

The next segment introduced participants to the criminal trial and the roles of the legal professionals involved.  Focusing on the examination in chief, youth took the role of defence lawyer, deciding collectively what questions to ask the witness. 

In the last segment, participants weighed the relevance of factors that might influence the sentencing decision.  Sentencing principals and the values underlying the criminal justice system were examined.

The workshops not only gave youth a better understanding of the criminal justice system, it gave teachers and youth workers an opportunity to connect with justice professionals.

As OJEN’s Michelle Thompson commented, “It was great to see relationships forming between teachers and youth workers and the lawyers who will be back in their communities with circuit court.  Hopefully they will continue to work together in the future.”

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