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Images of Justice by Dorothy Harley Eber

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Images of Justice: A Legal History of the Northwest Territories as Traced through the Yellowknife Courthouse Collection of Inuit Sculpture by Dorothy Harley Eber

8vo. pp. x, 224. b/w illustrations. index. hardcover. dw. (fine condition). Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, [1997].

ISBN-10: 0773516751 / ISBN 13: 9780773516755


The Yellow knife courthouse displays a collection of fourteen Inuit carvings representing landmark cases the legal history of the Northwest Territories. The cases, which came to trial before the NWT Supreme Court between 1955 and 1970, and the carvings that represent them illuminate a pivotal period of overwhelming social change when the Inuit camp system was eroding and age-old practices and traditional mores were being called into question. Dorothy Harley Eber tells the stories behind the carvings and provides fascinating insight into the unusual situations and special problems that developed as the Inuit came contact with Canada's justice system. The collection of carvings was started when J.H. Sissons, first resident justice of the NWT Supreme Court, received a carving of himself on the bench from an Inuit defendant. He decided to have Inuit artists document more cases and collected carvings that represented important decisions involving murder, assisted suicide, adoption, custom law marriage, and infractions of game laws. The collection was added to by his successor, William Morrow. Both Sissons and Morrow believed that to serve justice the North the law and the courts must adapt, and they were instrumental in spurring the fight for Native rights and making changes to the law to secure them. Eber provides colourful portraits of the two men based on recollections of those who travelled on circuit with them and observed their battles with Ottawa bureaucrats and the higher courts. Images of Justice resonates with voices of the North and comes alive through interviews with many of those involved in the cases -- Inuit and whites, defendants, judges, and prosecutors. Eber brings her story up to date with a look at the courts today and presents views of Inuit and non-Inuit with regard to future directions. She also provides valuable information on the remarkable but little-known artists who created the unique works of art the Yellowknife Courthouse Collection of Inuit Sculpture. 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 a changing northern society.