Nunavut Post

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Nunavut Legal Aid to interfere at Supreme Court of Canada 


Key takeaways: 

  • The case affects constraints on conditional sentencing.
  • Nunavut Legal Aid is to have a say at the Supreme Court of Canada for the only time in a case that could impact how Inuit are sentenced.

Supreme Court of Canada to be intervened by Nunavut Legal Aid: 

Nearly 40,000 individuals, mainly Inuit, stay in the territory, which has the highest imprisonment rate in the nation.

Nunavut Legal Aid will emerge in Ottawa on Wednesday to interfere in R v. Sharma.

The case concerns a young Indigenous woman named Cheyenne Sharma and the constitutionality of a rule that blocked a judge from letting her avoid prison by serving a conditional sentence.

Conditional sentences can be served in the community, generally in the form of house detention.

Sharma pleaded condemnable in 2016 for smuggling two kilograms of cocaine into Canada from South America. Proof at trial showed Sharma was facing financial hardship and would be evicted from her home. She was condemned to 17 months in detention.

In 2018, the Ontario Superior Court denied Sharma’s application for a conditional ruling.

Also read: Nunavut government approves another $22M in airline subsidy 

Nunavut Legal Aid lawyer leading the intervention, argues that limiting conditional sentences only hurts Inuit offenders across Nunavut.

The judge based the decision on a 2012 change to the federal Criminal Code that disallows community-based sentences for crimes like drug trafficking that have the highest fines.

An Ontario Court of Appeal justice denied the law, saying it was unconstitutional and discriminated against Indigenous criminals. The Crown then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Limits interfere with an Inuit value system, lawyer says

Eva Tache-Green, a Nunavut Legal Aid lawyer conducting the intervention, claims that restricting conditional sentences only hurts Inuit offenders across Nunavut.

In her request to the Supreme Court, Tache-Green reports that Nunavut’s legal order is Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, a social value system usually interpreted as “what Inuit have always known to be true.”

Tache-Green claims that limiting conditional sentences interferes with that process, which concentrates on rehabilitation instead of a penalty, and takes more people out of their home communities.

Source –

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