Thursday, February 14, 2013


Brokenhead Ojibway Nation has a petition. or should I say some people in Brokenhead Ojibway Nation have a petition to bring back Banishment into the community. There is a petition for signatures from Band Members only to support SCRAM; safer communities rising agaisnt, movement.

The idea of Banishment is not new. The target group that this petition is aimed at are: drug dealers,and  violent offenders. I think Banishment is still an option is some Indian communities in Manitoba, Canada. Banishment was one of the hardest punishments you could administer in a community at one time. Think of it in historical context. Winters were very hard. Mobility was a difficulty and a neccessity. People live a communal style which meant for the greater good. Disruption to the social fabric to a sustenance lifestyle could be catastrophic. People could go hungry. So out of safety for the whole community some people had to be kicked to the curb. Norway House Cree Nation tried to enact Banishment by-laws in 2001 Not sure what happened but Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was against it. Funny a bureaucracy can over turn or influence a supposedly sovereign Nation. Guess Reserves are not sovereign after all. But that's another story.

Right now many of the Indian communities are dealing with many social ills. Unemployment, poverty, addictions, crime, gangs, and other social dysfunctions. Some Indian communities are trying to battle the problems. One of those ideas for helping restore a healthy community is to get rid of the pariah that infest some of these places.

Banishment may work. It depends if it is handled fairly and is enforced. In some communities, with holding community services is a start. Services, such as funding for school or job opportunities are with held from the offending individual or individuals. People are given a chance to correct their behaviour.

I heard Banishment in the historical context was akin to a life sentence or a death sentence. People needed and relied on the whole group to help them live and sustain each other. Banishment meant that a person could not access the hunting, trapping areas and could not rely on others if you had no food or shelter. Can you imagine that, set adrift in a vast wilderness with only you to depend on. Wonder how many could manage that.

Today of course Banishment is not a death sentence or seen as all that hard. And Banishment is really not that uncommon. There are types of banishment all over the world. Provinces in Canada used to get rid of people that came into their area for Welfare. European Countries are flying the Gypsies out of their countries.

So I wonder if Banishment in Brokenhead Ojibway Nation will occur?  I guess it could work. Hard thing to do banishment in your community, practically everyone knows each other and many are cross related. So can you imagine having to ban your cousin? 
Footnote to the Norway House Banishment story.  The couple who were banished took it to court, and it was ruled by a Provincial court that the Reserve banishment law was illegal. Something I don't agree with. Read the story on the link.

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