Images of Justice

Images of Justice

Dorothy Harley Eber
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Images of Justice
    Book Description:

    Images of Justice resonates with voices of the North and comes alive through interviews with many of those involved in the cases - defendants, judges, and prosecutors. Eber also provides valuable information on the little-known carvers who created these remarkable works of art. At a time when alternative legal systems for Native peoples are being debated, Images of Justice provides a lively, accessible account of the northern courts, their evolution, and their future in a changing northern society.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6693-4
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Dorothy Harley Eber
  4. Preface to the 2008 edition
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Dorothy Harley Eber
  5. Map
    (pp. xvii-2)
    (pp. 3-8)

    The rocks of the great caribou drive - the taloyoak, hich this Boothia Peninsula community gets its name (it used to be called Spence Bay) - stretch out on the tundra close enough to the hamlet so that if you know where to look you can clearly see the pits where the hunters used to wait for the herd.

    “When the caribou passed through the rocks, the men in the pits would kill the last ones and then other men take the ones up front,” Lena Kingmeatook tells me. “Some would escape and there's a lake up ahead where hunters...

  7. The NWT Supreme Court and Its History
    (pp. 9-40)

    In a fury of capital letters the Sissons era of justice in the Canadian Northwest Territories began: JUDGE SISSONS ARRIVING HERE SATURDAY FIFTEENTH WISHES TO TAKE OATH OF OFFICE ... read the telegram dispatched 14 October 1955 from Yellowknife to R.G. Robertson, commissioner of the NWT and deputy minister of northern affairs and national resources. On 17 October Robertson wired from Ottawa to Police Magistrate L.H. Phinney: PURSUANT TO SECTION TWENTY-TWO OF THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT I HAVE TODAY AUTHORIZED YOU TO TAKE THE OATH OF OFFICE OF MR JUSTICE JOHN H. SISSONS.

    On 18 October Magistrate Phinney administered the...

  8. 1956 Regina v. Kaotak
    (pp. 41-46)

    Mr Justice J.H. Sissons began collecting Inuit carvings shortly after he tried his first case in the Northwest Territories. His first carving was sent to him by Kaotak, the accused inR. v. Kaotak, and seems to have been a surprise. In the sculpture the judge, a mighty figure.dressed in an Inuit parka and holding a book of laws, is seated at a bench. Before him stands the small lonely figure of the accused.

    Elizabeth Hagel Bolton says, “The first one —Kaotak— was simply presented to him and he liked it so much, and liked the idea so much, and...

  9. 1957 Regina v. Angulalik
    (pp. 47-56)

    Angulalik, a Copper Inuk of Perry River, was perhaps the first Inuit business tycoon. “A fascinating man of substance” is the way Sissons described him after he came before the judge on the charge of murder in Cambridge Bay in May 1957.¹ Angulalik cut an unusual figure among Inuit of the day; he was a successful independent trader who operated a trading post on Perry Island in Queen Maud Gulf (at one point he operated three licensed posts at various locations in the region), supplying goods to the camps in return for furs. He held the Queen’s Coronation Medal in...

  10. 1958 Regina v. Kikkik
    (pp. 57-76)

    In 1990 in Rankin Inlet I have the good fortune to meet Elizabeth Karetak at the home of Sandy and Michael Kusugak - Michael is the Inuit writer whoseBaseball Bats for Christmashas become a children’s classic. Elizabeth, known as Elisapee, is visiting from Arviat, formerly Eskimo Point, and is on her way to Yellowknife to see her daughter graduate from high school.

    Elisapee is a teacher, one of those, as Inuit sometimes say, who have “changed well.” She is the daughter of Kikkik, whose epic struggle for life stood revealed inR. v. Kikkik- Elisapee was the...

  11. 1959 Regina v. Pitseolak
    (pp. 77-82)

    Looking at the photograph of the carving that illustratesR. v. Pitseolak,Julia Ogina of Holman Island sums up the situation quickly. (Julia has interviewed the Holman elders and, with the anthropologist Richard G. Condon, publishedThe Northern Copper Inuit,she has also studied native clothes design.) “They are fighting over a woman,” she explains. She adds, “That’s why the women had those big shoulders, so the man could pull on the woman - so he’d have something to grasp.” The clothing the little figures wear is recognizably Copper Inuit clothing and the sculpture in all probability is the work...

  12. 1959 Regina v. Kogogolak
    (pp. 83-92)

    Two exhibits once representedR. v. Kogogolakin the Yellowknife Courthouse Collection, but the massive musk-ox skull has recently been removed it awaits a display unit of its own - leaving only a carving by Bob Ekalopialok of Coppermine (the artist’s son Sam Tablo still remembers his father making it). The work shows Jimmy Kogogolak¹ shooting a musk-ox, an act contrary to the NWT game ordinance. No laws imposed in the Northwest Territories were more disliked by native people than the NWT game laws. James Kavana, now of Coppermine but for years a superb interpreter for the police, the courts,...

  13. 1960 Regina v. Ayalik
    (pp. 93-100)

    Mr Justice Sissons did not collect a carving to illustrateR. v. Ayalik- he remarked that no Inuk would want to carve a scene depicting the killing of an RCMP officer. But some time later Mr Justice William Morrow, who had acted for the defence on this case on his first circuit tour as a lawyer with the NWT Supreme Court, acquired a fine carving that illustrates the crime. The piece is attributed to Sam Anavilok, who had lived in Cambridge Bay at the time of the trial and had observed it at firsthand.

    In its day,R. v....

  14. 1961 Re Noah’s Estate
    (pp. 101-108)

    Cases likeR. v. KikkikandR. v. Angulalikwere much reported in the press, but in less publicly discussed cases Sissons brought down judgments that touched the lives of native people across the Territories. Such a case wasRe Noah’s Estate, which upheld the validity of marriage by native custom. Noah, a young man from Broughton Island off the coast of Baffin Island, died on Christmas Day, 1959, in a bunkhouse fire at Cape Dyer, a site on the DEW Line (the line of radar stations built across the North) where he had moved to work.

    Poor Noah left...

  15. 1961 Re Katie’s Adoption
    (pp. 109-116)

    “When people thought about adopting a baby from another family, they would talk about it together first ... It was just like having a little meeting,” explains Alec Banksland (also known as Peter Aliknak) of Holman Island. The two families would talk “about how the adoption would be - because the parents were going to give the baby away.”

    Alec Banksland’s carving that illustratesRe Katie’s Adoption,still an important legal ruling for the Inuit, comes out of his own experience. “Nobody told him to make that carving,” says Elizabeth, Alec’s wife, whose English is perfect as a result of...

  16. 1962 Regina v. Sikyea
    (pp. 117-124)

    It has been called “the billion-dollar duck case” because that has been its worth to native northerners. The duck in question, which Mr Justice Sissons had stuffed, a little dusty now but cleared by Supreme Court of Canada decree of the judicial suspicion of being a tame duck rather than a wild mallard, sits in the glass display case beside the sculptures that illustrate the important cases of the Sissons and Morrow era. For the viewing public it may not hold the same interest as the little Inuit carvings, many of them illustrating riveting stories of murder and mayhem, but...

  17. 1963 Regina v. Mingeriak
    (pp. 125-130)

    The little sculpture that illustratesR. v. Mingeriakdepicts with dreadful effectiveness a particularly heinous crime. Though only a few inches tall, it seems monumental and indeed seems to tower in height in Richard Harrington’s photograph, once on the cover ofNatural Historymagazine. The accused is shown attacking a woman while his first victim lies at their feet. Both victims are covered in blood -in fact, “fuzzed” red knitting wool (according to Sam Tablo of Coppermine, the son of the probable creator, Bob Ekalopialok) - that streams realistically from the bodies. This is a sculpture that must have confirmed...

  18. 1963 Regina v. Amak, Avinga, and Nangmalik
    (pp. 131-136)

    In the summer of 1988 a group of twenty-six young Inuit gathered in Yellowknife to attend a demanding course designed to turn them into the Territories’ first fully trained legal interpreters in the Inuktitut language. Most of them took time out to examine the sculpture display in the Yellowknife Courthouse. Timothy Sangoya inspected the pieces in the collection with particular interest. “I thought they were really neat. One of them showed my great-great-grandfather.”

    I first met Timothy Sangoya in 1989. At that time he was one of the valuable Inuit paralegals working in Iqaluit for Maliiganik Tukisiiniakvik (we would meet...

  19. 1966 Regina v. Shooyook and Aiyoot
    (pp. 137-152)

    In photographs from the time of their trial, Isaccie Shooyook and Inuk Aiyoot seem barely into adolescence. They appear serious, responsible, and you think, “Boys from good homes.” That home was six days by dog-team from Spence Bay (now Taloyoak), whereR. v. Shooyook and Aiyootwas to take place, at Fort Ross in L’evesque Harbour on the Boothia Peninsula. Here Aiyoot’s father, Napatchee-Kadluk (the “short” Napatchee), was the headman, and three families - about twenty people - lived under his leadership in what was even in 1965 an unusually remote camp.

    In 1994, remembering back as we sit in...

  20. 1967 Regina v. Jeffrey
    (pp. 153-158)

    “In the time of the old linuit people, sometimes there were not enough women for all the men, so two or three men used to fight over one woman. That’s what they had to do - in their own culture. People would fight or have a tribal war, because there were not enough women.” Lena Kingmeatook is explaining the carving her late husband, Abraham Kingmeatook, made that illustratesR. v. Jeffrey, a case William G. Morrow, sworn in as Mr Justice Morrow on 12 September 1966, heard on appeal on 6 April 1967 Iqaluit. This was one of two small...

  21. 1969–70 Regina v. Tootalik
    (pp. 159-164)

    “I have to tell you,” says Jimmy Totalik (“Tootalik” in trial transcripts; “Totalik,” as he prefers it, in the phone book), “that I like to catch polar bears. Before we had the game laws one year I caught five.” In Kingmeatook’s carving, Jimmy Totalik seems a small man positioned as he is below the great height of the bear, but Totalik is a match for bears. He has hunted the polar bear with a spear. “I learned from my dad how to hunt them with guns or spears, but I was brought up when there were already white people, so...

    • Interpreting the Law: Regina v. Niviaqsi Laisa
      (pp. 167-184)

      “Juror, look at the accused; accused, look at the juror,” intones Anne Mould, deputy clerk of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories now on circuit to Cape Dorset, Baffin Island. Immediately, Akalayok Qavavau interprets the words in Inuktitut -“Naalakti iqqarturaksaq takunnaruk; iqqarturaksaaq naalakti takunnaruk.”

      Akalayok is one of a small handful of linguistic geniuses on whom the court relies now that an amendment to the NWT Jury Act has made it possible for unilingual native people to serve as jurors,naarlaktiit(the ones who sit and listen). She and a second interpreter, Atsainak Akeeshoo, will spell each other...

    • In Nunavut: Okalik for the Defence
      (pp. 185-190)

      On the first day of April 1999 the new territory of Nunavut will come into being, and all things being equal, Paul Okalik, thirty-two, from Pangnirtung, practise at its bar.

      In 1989 during an interview in Iqaluit with territorial judge Orval Troy, listened as the judge talked to Mr Justice Mark de Weerdt on the telephone. De Weerdt had that day in Yellowknife sworn in a new member of NWT bar. How long before there would be an Inuit lawyer? Ten years, judges decided. Paul Okalik, if all goes according to schedule, will finish articling one year ahead of time...

  23. EPILOGUE The Yellowknife Courthouse Collection of Inuit Sculpture
    (pp. 191-202)

    It is a bright arctic July in 1994 when I reach Kugluktuk and check into the Coppermine Inn, the hotel that diamonds built. Kugluktuk, at the mouth of the Coppermine River, from which it once took its name, is close to the diamond strikes of the Lac de Gras area and is witness to the birth of a new Canadian industry. In the summer heat it is a dusty patch of grid housing on the shore of the gleaming Coronation Gulf, part of the Beaufort Sea. For me this Arctic coast community is a long-anticipated port of call: it was...

  24. NOTES
    (pp. 203-212)
    (pp. 213-216)
  26. INDEX
    (pp. 217-223)
  27. Back Matter
    (pp. 224-227)