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Dealing with Wrong-doers

Emile Imaruittuq
If there was any type of strife in the community, they used to get together and talk to the person or persons causing it. If they listened the first time, then that would be the end of the matter but if they persisted, the second round of counselling would be more severe and unlike the first time, they did not talk about the good in the person or about how the person was loved by the community members. If they still persisted, then the counselling would be even more intimidating. Nothing was written, what was said all came from the minds of the elders. My grandfather and his father before him used to do this since they were the isumatait, the leaders, of the people living in Avvajja. I have heard that my grandfather twice asked people who were not living in our camp to come because he heard about their unacceptable behaviour and he wanted to help them deal with it. The two people he did this with were adults so their behaviour improved right away. Even though my grandfather was a great counsellor he gave up on his own son. He kept trying to make his son a better person, but he gave up. Because his son did not want to change, my grandfather said that if there was anyone who felt they needed to take revenge on his son, they were free to do so. As his son did not want to change, he would have to faceup to the consequences of his actions. (Page 44)
In the past, elders corrected wrong-doers by counselling. They appreciate
the value of Canadian law, but they are convinced that counselling is often
a better way of dealing with offences, particularly with minor offences and
first offences. Thus Imaruittuq states, “Serious offences should certainly be
dealt with by Canadian courts. If we were asked to provide input into those
serious offences, then we could. We should not let serious offences be dealt
with only by the Canadian court system. We should also be involved with
these more serious crimes because we do have knowledge and wisdom to pass
on.” Young offenders should not be intimidated by courts, but counselled by
elders. The second part of this chapter deals with offences against women and
children. The attitude towards arranged marriages has changed, but the elders
still feel that arranged marriages were a good institution. In the past, sexual
morals were different and the treatment of widows and orphans was
sometimes harsh. But there were also incentives to be kind towards those who
had lost close relatives. Thus Aupilaarjuk states, “Children who lost their
parents were not to be put through mental hardship for they say that a child
has a naglikti1 which cannot be seen. We were told not to mistreat orphans. We
were told to help the child for our life would be prolonged through the
naglikti’s gratitude. Our family members would also have a good long life. I
don’t think the need for us to look after children has changed.”