Criminal Reports (7th)
R v Turtle, Equality, Treaty 5
Court comes to Pikangikum First Nation through the air. Judges, Crown attorneys, and defence lawyers fly into this Anishinaabe community, located 229 kilometres north of Kenora, Ontario, to hear bail, trial, and sentencing matters involving members of the community. And then they fly out. Many of those provincial court proceedings involve sentencing members of the community to jail in Kenora or to a penitentiary even further away. We suspect that s. 15 of the Charter is rarely discussed in the Pikangikum courtroom (which is sometimes a room in the business development centre and sometimes the Chinese restaurant), a reality that is not unique to this community or courthouse. The equality rights guaranteed by s. 15 of the Charter, in their 35-year history, have had relatively little impact on the many ways that inequality pervades Canadian sentencing law.1 The promise of s. 15 has largely flown high above the daily machinations of criminal courts and places of punishment.
Sonia Lawrence & Debra Parkes, "R v. Turtle: Substantive Equality Touches Down in Treaty 5 Territory" (2021) 66 CR (7th) 430.