As we head into our third and final term of the year we have begun to read Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. This novel explores topics similar to what we are learning about with the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Of course we are learning about what happens in Canada and as the novel takes place in the USA there are certain differences however for the sake of this post we will think about the Justice system as it would be done in Canada.
If I were to be part of Cole's Justice Circle I would look first at his family life. What happened at home in order to make Cole act the way he did? The answer being that his father beat him and his mother did nothing to stop it as she herself was drinking at the time. We later learn that Cole's father was beaten as a child and that this was the only was he knew. This doesn't make any of the behaviour acceptable however it enables us to see to the root of the problem that goes back by a couple of generations.
Being beaten made Cole feel as though he was unloved, as he has mentioned many times throughout the novel, one of the countless things that made Cole angry. He was so angry that he acted rashly both in committing his first crime, beating up Peter and finally attacking Spirit Bear. But then as Cole lay on the ground in the storm, dying, as he watched the baby birds' lives were whisked away by the falling of a tree, he realized he didn't want to die. He thought about all that he had done in his life and realized it was nothing impressive. Was he as fragile as the birds?
From the view of the circle it would seem that when Cole explains that he really has changed that after two days he is able to control his anger it all seems so fake. All Cole has done is lie to people and in the eyes of the circle he is untrustworthy but I would say Cole deserves another chance to prove he really has changed. It'll be harder for him to earn back the trust of the circle after he lost it but if Cole really wants to change then he should at least have the opportunity to try again. I also feel that after what Cole did to Peter part of his consequence should be to help right the wrong he did.