A Ministry of Justice policy analyst says resentment must end when looking at solutions to the overrepresentation of First Nations people from northern Saskatchewan at all levels of the justice system.

David Gullickson spoke about the disheartening trend of the high number of First Nations people involved with the legal system as victims, offenders and the accused at the Northern Symposium for Safer and Healthier Communities in Prince Albert on Tuesday.

“There is a combination of factors that drive this,” he says. “Including a legacy of colonization and intergenerational trauma associated with residential schools.”

Gullickson also spoke about the troubling rate of violence against Aboriginal women and the high number of First Nations people currently in custody in northern Saskatchewan.

He concluded his presentation with some ideas about what can be done to end violence with a quote from Nelson Mandela.

“Resentment is like poisoning yourself and thinking it will kill your enemy. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has done great work to help us understand the depth of impact of residential schools and what we need to do to acknowledge those harms in healthy ways and rebuild relationships. Nelson Mandela’s comments in the context of South Africa seem to have relevance here. There is lots to be angry about, but resentment will get us nowhere, we have to build new partnerships going forward.”

Gullickson’s research and policy interests include restorative justice and social inclusion as well as public policy in relation to violence reduction and the wellbeing of children and youth.