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Bad Medicine: A Judge's Struggle for Justice in a First Nations Community Paperback – Oct 1 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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  • Bad Medicine: A Judge's Struggle for Justice in a First Nations Community
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  • Bad Judgment: The Myths of First Nations Equality and Judicial Independence in Canada
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rocky Mountain Books; 1 edition (Oct. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1926855035
  • ISBN-13: 978-1926855035
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #88,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Bad Medicine is an insider’s look at the failure of the justice system in its dealings with Aboriginal law-breakers. Alberta Provincial Court Judge John Reilly spares no one, including himself, in his belief that a different and non-racist approach would serve First Nations more effectively. He makes a compelling case for “good” medicine to replace the “bad.” A must read for anyone connected with Canada’s legal system.―Catherine Ford, author of Against The Grain: An Irreverent View of Alberta


Judge John Reilly demonstrates an uncommon understanding of the complex issues and problems confronting Canada's Aboriginal peoples. Were everyone in Canada to share his perspectives we would be much further ahead in overcoming these challenges.―The Honourable Patrick Brazeau, Senator and former National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP)


[John Reilly's] crusade has touched off a nationwide debate about government policies that are designed to foster native self-determination but may condemn another generation of Indians to lives of dependency and despair ―Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post


Judge John Reilly wanted to expose wrongdoing on the Stoney reserve. What he didn’t realize was that powerful forces―in Ottawa, in Edmonton, and in the band itself―had a vested interest in ignoring the problem. ―Gordon Laird, Saturday Night


. . . here’s a judge willing to speak out and actively engineer alternatives and swim bravely against powerful societal currents.―Bill Kaufmann, Calgary Sun


. . . government dollars flow in, and many reserves get huge oil and gas revenues, but housing is pitiful, in some cases water is unclean, and social problems, unemployment and crime are all high. Why is this? Reilly had the courage to ask. He’s not alone.―Linda Slobodian, Calgary Sun


Judge Reilly has done the Stoneys a great service, firstly in recognizing the underlying issues which bring so many Stoneys before his court, and then by asking for an investigation. Many are hoping that at last something will be done.―Jeffrey Perkins


Reilly has done a courageous and important deed. His unusual request has drawn widespread media attention to the ongoing problems on the Stoney reserve and has emboldened reserve residents to speak openly to the media.Western Catholic Reporter


Judge Reilly’s order was a brave and crazy political stunt. There is little chance that his order will hold up on appeal, but that’s not the point. This man, this powerful white man who makes his living moving people from the scenic ghettos we quaintly call “reservations” to the even worse environment of prison, tried to do the right thing.―Nick Devlin, FFWD Weekly


At first it appeared little would come of Provincial Court Judge John Reilly’s order for an investigation into physical and political squalor on the Stoney Indian reserve, 30 miles west of Calgary….But now it seems Judge Reilly’s intervention has unleashed a maelstrom of activity: in the courts, in Ottawa―and especially in band offices, where frustrated Indians are taking matters into their own hands.Alberta Report


It's so upsetting to me that we have 650 of these communities across Canada and I think the majority of them have people living in poverty because we don't do anything to make sure the money that's designated for native affairs got to the people who need it. The Calgary Herald, November 8, 2010


It’s possible that Bad Medicine is only the first in a series that takes the reader behind the curtains of the criminal justice system, aboriginal government and the difficulty in changing long-standing government policies.Rocky Mountain Outlook


On the surface, Reilly's new memoir is nothing if not political. Bad Medicine ... is an angry book that finds the maverick judge naming names and pushing for widespread change in how the government deals with aboriginal communities.Calgary Herald


I must once again heap praise on Judge John Reilly’s recent book Bad Medicine. This best seller is a shining example of how breaking the code of secrecy and silence imposed by abusers can set people free to think and act well for their own benefit, and for the long-term benefits of their community.―Warren Harbeck, The Cochrane Eagle


In his bold new book, Bad Medicine, retired provincial court judge John Reilly spares no one―not the government, politicians, the justice system, First Nations leaders, or even himself.―Robert Remington, Calgary Herald


Reilly’s fight-to-the-finish perseverance makes for an inspiring chronicle. Bad Medicine is a must-read for anyone who cares about the kind of country we really are.―Fil Fraser, Alberta Views


About the Author

John Reilly was appointed to the bench at age 30 and had the distinction of having been the youngest Provincial Court Judge in Alberta history. At age 50 he made a promise to himself that he was going to improve the delivery of justice to the Stoney Nakoda First Nations at Morley, Alberta. After 35 years in public service, Reilly retired in 2012. He lives in Canmore, Alberta.

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Format: Paperback
I read this book as part of my book club and have been haunted by it since. It is a compelling look at how the justice system has failed this aborignal community.
You have a society that has been plagued by suicide, addiction, residential schools and poverty. Does incarceration mean anything without changing any of the factors that set people up to fail in the first place? How do you change something that no one can even speak about? If suicide or addiction occurred at such a rate in any community outside of a reserve, people would be devastated and it would be on the front page of every Canadian newspaper. I'm glad that someone has broken this silence.
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John Reilly is clearly passionate about this cause and about finding ways to prevent the average aboriginal person to not be mistreated at the hands of a select few in the tribal councils. It would have been better, however, if he had received some help with the writing of this book. He writes like a judge. Perhaps this will improve when he writes his second book because his message is certainly something that people need to hear.
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Format: Paperback
I concur with the previous review - haunting, sad, compelling. Worth reading! The book provides a whole new perspective on why the euro-centric view of justice imposed on the First Nations community has not worked. Reilly, has written his learning as a judge and a human being, one who cannot overlook where change is desperately needed.
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