Barabara Kay speaks of shunning

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The Article

Barbara Kay’s column today made me perk up and think of all sorts of uses for… shunning! 

Barbara is writing about David Ahenakew, but think of just about anybody in his stead.  Can you shun the CBC?  I bet you can.


What alternatives are there? Native communities frequently advocate community-based sentencing as a more effective and culturally appropriate corrective. Indeed, a post-trial native tribunal is planned for Ahenakew. But if he ends up in a sweat lodge smoking sweet grass, that would be too little, too late.

Because of their emphasis on group identity, native communities are uniquely well situated to impose the simple punishment Ahenakew truly deserves, namely social ostracism—or “shunning,” as it is known in its institutionalized form.

Shunning is a technique invoked by organized communities, usually religions, to compel penance and reform. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, apply it as a spiritual chastisement to those who deviate from their doctrinal path. Once engaged, rules forbid members to address, sit near, comfort or aid, or in any way acknowledge the presence of the “disfellowshipped” member.

It’s in the Columnist section.

Joel Johannesen
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