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Witness to the Human Rights Tribunals: How the System Fails Indigenous Peoples

Witness to the Human Rights Tribunals: How the System Fails Indigenous Peoples
By Bruce Granville Miller
UBC Press

On the twelfth floor of an undistinguished-looking high-rise in a Canadian city, a tribunal adjudicates the human rights of Indigenous individuals. Why isn’t the process working?

First establishing the context with an in-depth look at the role of anthropological expertise in the courts, Witness to the Human Rights Tribunals then draws on testimony, ethnographic data, and years of tribunal decisions to show how specific cases are fought. Bruce Miller’s candid analysis reveals the double-edged nature of the tribunal itself, which re-engages with the trauma and violence of discrimination that suffuses social and legal systems while it attempts to protect human rights.

Should the human rights tribunal system be replaced, or paired with an Indigenous-centred system? How can anthropologists promote understanding of the pervasive discrimination that Indigenous people face? This important book convincingly concludes that any reform must consider the problem of symbolic trauma before Indigenous claimants can receive appropriate justice.

Bruce Granville Miller is a professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia. He has served as an expert witness in numerous human rights tribunal cases and his work with Indigenous communities in the context of presenting oral history has been particularly instrumental. Among his many publications are Oral History on Trial: Recognizing Aboriginal Narratives in the Courts and “Be of Good Mind”: Essays on the Coast Salish.

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