There is no word for “justice” in the Cree language.
In his book “Up Ghost River”, residential school survivor Edmund Metatawabin described the closest word to justice in Cree is “kintohpatatin” – which loosely translates to “you’ve been listened to.”
It is a fulsome word – richer than the suffocating legal confines of criminal justice (sic). It “really means you’ve been listened to by someone compassionate and fair, and your needs will be taken seriously.” (Source, Jane Philpott, MacLean’s, January 2020 edition).
Real justice means you’ve been listened to by someone compassionate and fair, and your needs will be taken seriously.
I can think of no-one better than Jesus who embodies the ability to listen with compassion and fairness – who takes your needs seriously.
The one who came in right-relatedness comes to affirm redemptive justice; lo and behold – fairness looks so much like being listened to with compassion.
We may marvel at Jesus who demonstrates the power of really understanding those excluded and judged. Over and over again, if we look over the many encounters of Jesus in the New Testament, we may see what it means to be listened to. And if you’ve experienced the power of being listened to, then may you grace your world with the ability to listen to others.
Grace to you.
For more, consider “The Power of Listening.”