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Creator of Nunavut's justice system ends 'adventure' Add to ...

Justice Beverly Browne was a judge in Nunavut before it was Nunavut. She began her career on the bench in a tiny, isolated courtroom on Baffin Island in 1990, in what was then the Northwest Territories. After becoming Nunavut's first senior judge when the territory was created in 1999, she helped build its justice system.

Earlier this month, she headed south. She's now sitting on Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench in Edmonton.

How did you end up on Baffin Island?

When I was a young lawyer, I articled in Yellowknife, and worked there for a couple years, and I just happened to see an opportunity in the Eastern Arctic that seemed like an adventure.

There was a conference on victims services in the North a couple of weeks ago, and it was clear that there aren't many - especially in Nunavut.

We're very short of resources in Nunavut, from probation to parole to counsellors for accused, counsellors for witnesses, counsellors for victims. That whole area needs some work and some resources injected into it.

What are the implications?

Well, sometimes people who need help don't get it. ... There are good probation officers, [there are]good counsellors in some communities. But it's really quite hit and miss, and so it's challenging for the communities that don't have those services.

So as a judge, how do you deal with that?

You have to appreciate the ones that are there and support them as much as you can because when that's all you've got, you've got to work with it the best you can. ...And when you've got an opportunity to advocate for more resources, you do that.

What do you think of the report card that just came out?

It will be very interesting to see how they deal with and attempt to institute some of the recommendations there. There's lots to do. We're well behind other provinces and territories just in terms of development, generally, but that's to be expected.

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