Portrait of the Naskapi Nation

Justice and Spirituality

7:56 min. - Even though the nation and the village are quite modern, traditional values still exist, especially when it comes to matters of justice and spirituality.


Mike Sandy - I work at the Naskapi Court with a judge and a Crown Attorney. In the village there was also an sentencing circle, where information circulated, which, at the end of the line, improved procedures. Once a person decided to go before the circle she had to do so with complete honesty, hiding nothing. In the sentencing circle, the right to speak was given to everyone equally, we examined the ways in which this could benefit the accused. With a full understanding of the consequences, the accused agrees to come forward and speak, they have to come forward in order for the sentencing circle to help them, knowing full well that if they appeared before the regular court, they risk being too overcome by fear to testify.
Regular court is in session every three months, but it does not know or understand the Naskapis, we know them, so the accused has more confidence in us, in addition, we must directly confront the person he has wronged. He must talk about how he is going to get through the situation, and then he must do as he says…he is watched by his own kind.
The force of the sentencing circle is quite powerful if the accused comes forward in complete honesty, there is no room for interference, everyone is equal. One day, I accompanied a judge to White Horse in the Yukon as part of the sentencing circle. I was able to study the process, and experienced Native trained us in the procedures to follow in a sentencing circle. He said that one of the greatest strengths of a sentencing circle was that we all know each other.
I think we are the only ones in Quebec to have a sentencing circle, others should follow our example. As Natives, we must preserve and carry forward the culture and way of life that our Creator gave us.
Noat Einish - Once, I became lost in my own spirituality, I didn’t understand why.
Many of us have become Catholics, it makes no difference to me because I’m comfortable in my own beliefs. I respect other religions, be it Catholicism, Anglicanism, Pentecostalism, Jehovah Witnesses, or any other, everyone has the right to choose.
Me, I found my true identity with the Natives of South Dakota.
An Elder introduced me to the sweat lodge. The moment I followed him inside, my life was turned upside-down, I found things that I wasn’t even aware that I had lost, and I discovered a respect for things I didn’t even know existed, I filled my life with love for my children and those around me.
These days, I spend a lot of time speaking with the Elders, I ask questions, I listen to their stories, and I can see that the Naskapi people possess a vast amount of knowledge and spirituality.
Daisy André - I don’t keep things inside the way I used to, I have known Noat for a long time. We were often together, she was the one that introduced me to spirituality and the sweat lodge. For a long time I did not understand at what point boarding school had ruined my life, it was only through a personal and spiritual journey that I cane to see it. Noat helped me enormously, she reinforced my culture, she taught me how to pray from the heart.
I work in drug addictions with Naskapi men, women, seniors, and children. I mainly counsel women, I listen to them, accompany them, they confide in me. I help those who want to end their drug addictions by leading them in therapy.
I also participate in community activities. Today, we are in search of those who invite us, in search of those who will help us.
Music - Philippe Mckenzie

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