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When the restorative justice process works, it’s a bit like seeing a revolving door suddenly come to a stop, says Ms. Hudson from the Indigenous Friendship Centre. But breaking the cycle of incarceration can take time – and several tries. In his appearances before the Thunder Bay IPC in 2019, the 37-year-old man who admitted to stealing a car and a bottle of vodka didn’t have a lot to say about his progress. He kept coming to court with excuses, saying he was in between lawyers, between jobs, and hadn’t made many appointments that were supposed to be part of his rehabilitation. At times, he even pushed back against his own healing plan. “I don’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol,”
he said at one point. During the accused’s initial appearance, defence lawyer Gilbert Labine had said his client’s problems traced back to a troubled history. His mother was from a remote First Nation in Northwestern Ontario, and had raised him in Thunder Bay and Sioux Lookout, Ont., a city of 5,000. She struggled with alcohol and suffered abuse at the hands of her partners. The court heard that he was seized by child-protection workers several times. As an adult, he became estranged from his own children while racking up mischief and breach of bail charges. The spiral stopped only when he was arrested for driving the stolen car. “He’s been opiate-free for six months now – this is probably the longest stretch of sobriety he’s had in the last 10 or 15 years,” Mr. Labine told the court. Story continues below advertisement The healing plan had suggested the accused could try to avoid jail by taking addictions counselling and completing his high-school diploma. Many people were prepared to help him, but he was told that he alone had to do the work. “Go out there and get it – do it for yourself,” an elder told him at one point, speaking in the IPC about how she had overcome her own demons in life. But when the accused’s periodic check-ins became only a running record of missed appointments, the Indigenous People’s Court finally lost patience.
“My impression is that you’ve kind of been blowing this off all along – and that keeping you in this court is taking resources away from people who really want to be in this court,” Justice Elaine Burton said as she challenged the accused in late 2019. His reply was one of resignation: “You can just take me out of this court, then,” he said. In March, 2020, about a week before COVID-19 shuttered courts across Ontario, the accused pleaded his guilt again – this time, however, his case had reverted to a standard sentencing court. During a half-hour hearing, the court heard about his “volatile upbringing” and about how he became estranged from his children. “Around 10 years ago, they left him on his birthday,” defence lawyer Patricia Vo said, adding that situation “kickstarted his fall.” Mostly, though, the discussion focused on the agreed statement of facts and how much time he should spend behind bars. Everyone agreed that 90 days in the Thunder Bay jail seemed about right for the two crimes he had committed in the summer of 2018. Thirty days for stealing a bottle of raspberry-flavoured vodka worth $28.20 from a liquor store. Sixty days for the stolen Hyundai Tucson he had driven around town for a day after finding it unattended. “I am considering the Gladue factors that you’ve talked about,” Justice Danalyn MacKinnon said. But she pointed out that judges also have a duty to denounce car thefts. “We want to show there’s a serious punishment if you do that sort of thing,” she said. “You are going to go to jail today.” The seal of Ontario stands above the judge’s seat in the courtroom. Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today. Boy Scouts Celebrate The First Group Of Female Eagle Scouts Growing up in Minneapolis, Isabella Tunney followed the progress of her older brother with admiration and occasional envy as he worked toward earning the Boy Scouts’ prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. This weekend, at age 16, Tunney will be one of nearly 1,000 girls and young women honored by the Boy Scouts in a virtual celebration of the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts. It’s a major milestone, given the hallowed stature of a rank that has been attained over more than a century by astronauts, admirals, U.S. Senators and other luminaries.
Only in 2018 did the Boy Scouts start accepting girls as Cub Scouts; older girls were admitted into the flagship scouting program in 2019. Overall, more than 140,000 girls have joined. Tunney, like many of the girls attaining Eagle rank, worked intensively to amass the needed merit badges within two years. A minimum of 21 badges are required to attain Eagle; Tunney earned all 137, in subjects ranging from welding to white-water rafting to coin collection. “The quarantine helped a lot,” she said, referring to the lockdown ordered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I had a lot of time to spare.” For her Eagle Scout public service project, she organized a drive to collect essentials for families being assisted by a homeless shelter. Tunney is a junior at St. Paul Academy and Summit School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and she is interested in a career related to the STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering and math. As a child, she loved tagging along with her older brother, Eugene, but was sad when he and their father would go off on weekend camping trips with the Scouts. “I was very envious of all those,” she said. “When the Boy Scouts opened up to girls, I was so excited to get the opportunity to participate myself.” Like Tunney, new Eagle Scout Sydney Ireland also was drawn to the Boy Scouts due to participation of an older brother. She became an unofficial member of his New York City unit at age 4 and over the ensuing years was outspoken in urging the Boy Scouts to officially admit girls. Ireland, 19, is now a sophomore at Amherst College, taking classes remotely from the Massachusetts island of Nantucket. She’s majoring in political science and psychology; law school and a career in politics could be on the horizon. “Scouting has influenced my life in nearly every facet,” she said via email, crediting the leadership skills she learned in the Scouts for giving her the confidence to run for Amherst’s student Senate. The Boy Scouts say about 6% of all scouts attain Eagle rank – roughly 2.5 million since the award’s creation in 1911, a year after the Boy Scouts of America was founded. “This is a powerful moment for these young women, for all Eagle Scouts, and for our nation,” said Jenn Hancock, the BSA’s national chair for programs. “
People recognize Eagle Scouts as individuals of the highest caliber, and for the first time, that title isn’t limited by gender.” The celebration of the new Eagle Scouts comes at a challenging time for the Boy Scouts. Facing a wave of lawsuits, it filed for bankruptcy protection a year ago in a step toward creating a huge compensation fund for tens of thousands of men who were molested as youngsters decades ago by scoutmasters or other leaders. The case has advanced slowly since then in a federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. The BSA is expected to unveil a plan soon explaining how the compensation fund will be financed in a way that enables the organization and its local councils to maintain their programs. Many in the scouting community have retained their admiration for the BSA’s mission – among them is Megan Wright of Omaha. Starting about 10 years ago, she helped run a Boy Scout troop to which her son belonged, and more recently she has been scoutmaster for her daughter’s troop. The daughter, 18-year-old Rebecca Wright, is among the new Eagle Scouts, having earned 102 merit badges. She now attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison and wants to be a genetics researcher. “It’s been fantastic to see girls be able to participate in this program,” said Rebecca’s mom. “Just seeing the pride, the sense of accomplishment, knowing that they have achieved what so few others have.”
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