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LETTER: Real story often is victimization

I am writing to say bravo for the moving editorial (Sept. 26) on the wounds of trauma and the story of Gary Christmas, who went before the court on drug charges after a lifetime of trauma.

It is all too easy to dismiss people as “addicts” and “criminals” when the real story is one of victimization and hurt. Multi-generational trauma is the norm for so many who battle addiction and come before the court.

Let’s be clear, prisons do not rehabilitate anyone, but instead, heap dehumanization and further abuse upon people who are already broken. The itemization of the suffering that Mr. Christmas had endured as he grew up in a First Nation’s community provided a much-needed reality check for those who would prioritize further punishment instead of healing as a way forward.

We need mental health courts in our community, that prioritize treatment and real rehabilitation instead of further abuse and suffering.  We need judges brave enough to acknowledge that human behaviour is driven by what sets it up, not only by what comes afterward in the form of punishment.

Mental health courts are available in some parts of the province but not in Northern Nova Scotia, I think it’s time we started demanding better for the most vulnerable of our citizens.

Tammy Kontuk

Registered clinical psychologist who serves Pictou County and surrounding areas

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