Saturday 14 February 2009

Christopher Pauchay and circle of kindness

Christopher Pauchay, the guy who killed his two daughters by dropping them in a snowbank while intoxicated, faced his scentencing circle. Their recommendation : Pauchay should serve his sentence in the community. Probable punishment: setting up rocks for sweat lodges, filling and lighting pipes before ceremonies, and assisting elders with other tasks.

If you think he's getting off easy, you're wrong. Just listen to Chief Robert Whitehead:

It's a lot tougher than traditional courts because you have to face the people who you wronged and try to make things right.
See? There you go. Let's have a look at some of what transcribed when he faced the people he wronged:

Tracey Jimmy, his ex-wife and mother of the girls: "He was just such a good dad. I just love him and you guys are taking him away from me - the only person who can actually feel what I'm feeling."

Elder Evelyn Burns suggested Pauchay does not need to go to jail. "Every day you must think of your little girls - that's punishment enough, I think."

Pauchay's stepmother, Jo Anne Machiskinic: I'm not mad at him because he never intended such a horrible thing to happen..

Pauchay's uncle, Francis Nippi: jail should only be used for animals. "Release him to the elders".

Pauchay's gay lover, armando: "I miss the way he beats me when I've been bad. Please don't take him away from me."

The local liquor store owner: "He should stay in the community. He's one of my best customers."

Ok ... I'd better stop before the Southern Chiefs Organization sic their lawyers on me. The point I'm trying to make is this: A scentencing circle may be effective in some situations, but in this case, the victim's family is Pauchay's family. The community members are Pauchay's friends. How is the scentencing circle supposed to be effective when many (most?) of the participants are sympathetic to the criminal?

Look, I feel bad for the guy. I can't imagine what he's going through. I just question whether a scentencing circle is the right tool for the job.

16 comments: said...

I think the sentencing circles are good, I would love to be part of it and put him away for life . It's a joke when his friends and family get to dish out the sentence , though.

I think the Taman family should have been able to sentence Derek Harvey-Zenk , that would have been a perfect case for one of these circles.

Anonymous said...

We italians also have a "sentencing circle "

It is made of heavy rope and resembles a noose.

cherenkov said...

Jim: Possibly. A family who is very hurt and full of wrath may not come up with a reasonable sentence either.

I could see it working for smaller crimes in a healthy community environment where the elders are respected. But when we're dealing with a homicide and alcohol abuse is rampant in a community and the victim circle is composed of friends and family it doesn't make sense.

Mr. N: You probably could have stopped at "rope" and we would have got the idea. :-)

Anonymous said...

Well that would be saying we'd gladly fit that type of scum with shoes.

You'd get the wrong impression until I said cement.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic church has a method of punishment called excommunication.

Other faith communities recognize shunning.

In past times, both cases were very serious for the person being punished.

The original versions of an aboriginal community punishment for the incorrigible included the possibility of banishment to an island. Cut off from the community, shelter, food etc.this generally would have had the effect of a sentence of death.

cherenkov said...

Banishment to an island. That's a good one. I'd like to see that one brought back some day.

Anonymous said...

yea i saw with my own eyes a native in Pellican Narrows Sask get sentenced to be banned from the community and sent to an island and this was not to long ago the sentencing circle thought he would rehabilate there but it was a party people would go party with him but thats beside the point im tryin to make cause one night at one of them partys i was talking about he went back into the community and went back to the place where he got in trouble in the first place(his EX OLD LADY) if ya get my drift and he kicked the door in and found another man in bed with his ex..........WELL after he BEAT that man to death he started on the women and he did do a bad number with her beat her half dead bite her nipples off ripped her hair and from what i heard he shoved a beer bottle in her private part and kicked it unltil it broke,sooo thats just one of the examples of how succesfull the sentencing circles work in my eyes the elders and leaders cheifs etc should be held accountable just as much as Pauchay for letting there community members stay drunk for days and letting soon to be mothers be drunkss etc...and i would have to say MR LAWRENCE JOSEPH WHAT U GOTTA SAY ABOUT THAT!!!

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to speculate on the mind set of the individuals involved. Two beautiful little girls died horrible deaths and their daddy gets to have a seat in a sharing circle. Somebody has to remember that in the real traditional sense of First Nation justice this individual would have suffered a equal measure of suffering as his daughters. In other words, left in the cold to die.

cherenkov said...

Not sure about the accuracy of your statement, but at least as an adult he would have a fighting chance. The little girls were helpless.

Anonymous said...

Pauchay is basically being tried by his own family and friends in this circle. The belief that sentencing circles are tougher than standing in a court room is not true. In a courtroom he would have had to face all of the people who are not emotionally attached to him. He would have been questioned continually until the truth was revealed. He would have been exposed to pictures of his dead children and heard testimony from the police, the ambulance crew, hospital staff and the searchers who found his daughters, frozen bodies as well as from the coroners who examined there bodies. In other words, what he couldn't remember in his drunkedness, he would have had to face in the courtroom. Maybe that would have made him face up to the consequences of his actions. He faced no wrath, nor did he even have to discuss what had happened. He only recieved sympathy from the circle.

I hope the judge has the good sense to disregard the circles reccommendations and lock him up for the maximum time with a lengthy probabtion period following.

He has already proved that he is incapable of learning anything from the communities help, as he has breached his release conditions while under their watchful eye and guidance which they said they had been providing over the past year.

I fear for the well being of his new born child if he is released back into the community.

cherenkov said...

Unlikely (unfortunately) that the judge will overrule the sentencing circle. That would cause more outrage among the aboriginal community than anything else. They would see it as disrespectful. The whole thing is a farce.

CMax said...

Justice based on a relationship, is the only way to administer the law with compassion. For one thing it is easy to pass a severe judgment onto someone whom you have no affinity. Thus a sentencing circle tries to bridge this circumstance. Justice cannot be left with those who don’t care enough about the person in question. Since everything is constructed to suit the dominant majority, those who have no relation to this particular group stand to lose certain fundamental rights when seeking justice. Compassion is what makes us human, for that matter humane, unfortunately we still make distinctions when applying the law. It’s easy to say we should be all equal when in fact we are not equal, society begs to differ. So there has to be, unfortunately, a system where this inequality is recognized and dealt with. If we did away with the act of excluding certain people in society, and if we did away with reserves, not to mention the control and domination of First nations people via legislation then and only then can we speak about equality. Unfortunately natives are excluded in society, segregated on reserves and a majority of them still fall under the Indian Act; thus the factors of inequality are still in place. It is easy to disagree with this system, but it makes more sense to take into account the complete factors that have brought us to a situation of an alternative measures in the first place. No crime is good but leaving out compassion, is by far the greater evil.

cherenkov said...

Hi CMax.

My view: there is a conflict of interest within the First Nations. Yes, they are segregated by the reserve system and the Indian act, but any attempt to remove those would be harshly opposed but a few who thrive as a result of this system: the Chiefs, and the priveledged "elite" of the Indian community. Here in MB the Fontaines and Chartrands do very well under the current system, and the inequality it causes fuels their political power.

CMax said...

The thing about the Indian Act is that it was about excessive control, today there certainly would be no people or peoples who would stand for such domination, yet a country that prides itself on “good government” has implemented such a system against its most disadvantaged people. Rather than give the people, who need the most independence, it has continued to allow this oppressive system to further degrade a needy people. It is a blemish on a country that prides itself as one of the best countries in the world. The exploitation, of native people has been nothing but an industry that runs this country. Rather than be a drain, its industry is part of Canada’s thriving economy. As long as natives are disadvantaged there will always be an industry built around them. Even if natives governed themselves somewhat effectively we would certainly lose a whole sector of jobs, so if greater liberation and strengthening was to occur, especially in these economic times; would there not be an outcry.
Natives are just players in a dream that often excludes them. One only has to think of Jeremy Bentham’s theory of utilitarianism, to know how such things were once justified. Contrarily today, if Canada was indeed Democratic they would have considered minorities and stopped the majority from running roughshod over the rights of its disadvantaged natives. The past culture of exclusion was never just; and there certainly is a higher law than what the majority wants.
It’s easy to just point the finger at the native people and yet leave the other things in place, if anything there has to be a restructuring and a change in the attitudes of those who never seen a problem in using natives as the scapegoats of Canada’s problems.
It is not some mystical, way of knowing but their circumstance is unique and does need a thorough understanding, it will come from those who experience and who see things on a larger (native) picture. There are a lot of comments, especially from a society that somehow believes it’s their right to have a say even if they don’t have the foggiest of what native people go through and what they are facing. People just like to add to the already confused mire that gets passed off as knowledge.
Moreover a society that is so bent on capitalism, it is no surprise that people are exploited, so really should we expect anything less, especially on reserves bearing in mind that the Indian Act was created by the capitalist in place. It seems that almost every system has some injustice so deeply embedded.
Adam Smith had it right when he said, that there had to be some structure/morals, because the markets without justice do not produce good things for society. Furthermore Adam Smith also said in regards to Britain’s control over its colonies “that such controls were in fact directly opposed to the ultimate ends they were designed to serve. Thus, not only were the economic controls placed on her American colonies "a manifest violation of the most sacred rights of mankind," but moreover, "Under the present system of management Great Britain derives nothing but loss from the dominion which she assumes over her colonies. Thus the bottom line to any success is liberty, never excessive control. Is this all new stuff, hardly, in fact, it has been used to allow nations to succeed. Not only are there answers, in doing things differently, but it begs the question once again why things like this were never used for native people. Oppression then is the biggest deterrent when it comes to the success of native people.
So we go back to the Indian Act and we can ask why was it set up in a hierarchy, it seems that somehow making a few people rich was suppose to put in some kind of Reganomics. However that would be giving the benefit of the doubt by assuming such a thing. But in terms of a flaw, growth must be possible, having little or no access to the resources, seems a tad hypocritical, if anything.
Anyways take what you will from my opinion; I hope this adds something meaningful to the discourse on natives and their issues.

cherenkov said...

Mr CMax: The Indian act may inflict "excessive control" but I don't agree it is a capitalist tool or that natives are being exploited for capital gain. That doesn't make sense to me. If that's the case it's the poorest job of exploitation I've ever seen because its costing us zillions of dollars. If anything, natives are being exploited by their own leaders -- the only people who benefit from the reserve system. Adam Smith was talking about free will and the ability to compete in an open market, and that applies here as well, but it's not accurate to look at Canada's natives as a colony in the same sense as the British colonies.

CMax said...

You just finished saying that our leaders exploit our people, sounds pretty capitalist to me. Since you can’t get the gist of what I’m saying, “exploitation is rampant,” so before you point the finger towards native leaders, remember that they never created the Indian Act, and that is not hard to conclude is it? Excluding native people has been part of the Canadian culture, having them in a disadvantaged position, says lots about those who put them there. Concerning Adam Smith that is only one part of his views, dig deeper my friend. Colonialism doesn’t just have to do with British people; there is a whole study on that subject. May I reiterate, understanding Natives is not some mystical, way of knowing but their circumstance is unique and does need a thorough understanding, it will come from those who experience and who see things on a larger (native) picture. There are a lot of comments, especially from a society that somehow believes it’s their right to have a say even if they don’t have the foggiest of what native people go through and what they are facing. People just like to add to the already confused mire and sadly it usually gets passed off as knowledge.

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