Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
Following from a reading of every decision in the BC Human Rights Tribunal from 1999 to 2015 concerning Indigenous peoples, service on four occasions as an expert and expert witness in the tribunal, and as an observer in other cases, I argue that the tribunal as presently constituted reproduces some of the circumstances which originally cause Indigenous people to bring cases. These difficult circumstances include fear of police or other public officials and concern for sharing data under the discovery rule, the difficulties in translating moral claims into the precise wording and entry into categories of personage and domain of injury required by the tribunal, and problems of management of case materials. Perhaps more important are the difficulties presented by adverse cross examination. None of these problems are unique to Indigenous peoples but there are additional specific problems, such as the idea of “suspicion,” arising from the specifics of systemic racism in BC. There are several possible ways to ease these problems, including changing the time period under which cases may be brought, easing discovery rules to allow plantiffs to redact materials upon which testimony is given, and others.