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Circles ONF/NFB


Catalogue Number:  NFB522517
Producer:  National Film Board of Canada
Producers:  Mark Zannis, Don Haig
Directors:  Shanti Thakur
Producing Agencies:  National Film Board of Canada (Montreal)
Subject:  Canadian Social Issues, Canadian Social Studies, Criminal Justice & Law, Documentary, First Nations Studies, Indigenous Issues, Indigenous Peoples, Social Studies
Language:  English
Grade Level:  Post Secondary
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  1997
Running Time:  57m 45s
Closed Captions:  Yes


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Circles is a film about justice and community healing, hope and transformation. In the Yukon, an innovative program is bringing together a traditional form of Aboriginal justice--circle sentencing--and the Canadian justice system. Sentencing circles don't focus on punishment. Instead, they bring together the perpetrator of a crime, his or her victims, and peers and family in an effort to bring healing to the community. For many Aboriginal men in the North, going to jail was a natural extension of attending missionary-run schools. Brothers Harold and Phil Gatensby, who have both done their share of jail time, now participate in circles as a way to allow offenders to break the cycle of crime, court, prison, and allow them to reconnect with their spiritual traditions. Circles works so well that Aboriginals from the Yukon have helped set up similar programs elsewhere in Canada and in the US. With its potential to bring community members together, the circle is a powerful alternative to prison terms imposed by courts--not only for Aboriginal people in the North but, potentially, for all communities.

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