Wilfred King

Wilfred King is the chief of Gull Bay First Nation (Kiashke Zaaging Anishnaabek). Chief and council issued a banishment and restriction resolution for a 21-year-old man from the community who is charged with arson. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

A First Nation in northwestern Ontario is using the traditional Ojibwa practice of banishment to deal with a man charged with arson.

Gull Bay First Nation (Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek) issued a band council resolution on June 17, barring the 21-year-old from the community and restricting his presence at off-reserve community activities.

"When we have one member who chooses to carry out activities that put the safety in jeopardy of families and community members, that's where banishment is exercised by council," said Beth Boon, special adviser to Gull Bay chief and council.

The First Nation is in a unique situation to practise traditional justice as it has its own police service that works with the OPP and the federal policing agent in Thunder Bay, she said.

'The most severe consequences'

Gull Bay notified the public about the banishment after the OPP issued a news release about the man's criminal charges. Police say he is currently in custody.

"I want to offer clarity about the notion of B-C-R-ing someone out of the community," Boon said. "Unfortunately it's received kind of a stereotype as maybe not a legitimate form of Aboriginal justice."

"We know that communities only work when all members work together as one towards the common good and when a person decides to conduct activities that are outside the common community goals then they can suffer the most severe consequences," Boon said.

The First Nation will review the band council resolution once the man's criminal charges are dealt with in the mainstream system, Boon said.