Hayden King on the systematic racism in Canadian Prisons towards Indigenous people.


Just because there are lots of indigenous people in prison doesn’t mean there’s systematic racism

Uh…yes it does.

How else would you explain that Indigenous people are imprisoned at such astronomical rates in proportion to their population, and that white people are actually being imprisoned less as time goes on.

Indigenous people only represent 4% of the population and now make up 25% of the population of prisons. Some prisons are now 90% indigenous.

Its readily obvious reading the statistics that this is a major issue of systematic racism. This is from 2013 but it is very relevant here.

Aboriginal corrections report finds ‘systemic discrimination’

Aboriginal people are so vastly over-represented in Canada’s federal prison system that current policies are clearly failing them, according to a new report by the Office of the Correctional Investigator.

The report found “no new significant investments at the community level for federal aboriginal initiatives. No deputy commissioner dedicated solely to and responsible for aboriginal programs, planning, implementation and results. And worst of all, no progress in closing the large gaps in correctional outcomes between aboriginal and non-aboriginal inmates,” Howard Sapers, the correctional investigator for Canada, said during a news conference in Ottawa.

The report was tabled in the House of Commons Thursday morning — only the second special report ever written by the investigator since the office’s creation 40 years ago.

The trail of many social policies which have marginalized one group of our population “defines systemic discrimination,” Sapers said.

“It’s not that anybody designed the CSC programs to be discriminatory but in fact, there are differential outcomes between aboriginal and non-aboriginal inmates,” Sapers said.

The correctional investigator pointed to what he called “alarming” statistics.

“There are just over 3,400 aboriginal men and women making up 23 per cent of the country’s federal prison inmate population,” Sapers said.

“In other words, while aboriginal people in Canada comprise just four per cent of the population, in federal prisons nearly one in four is Métis, Inuit, or First Nations.”

Sapers found almost 40 per cent increase in the aboriginal incarcerated population between 2001-02 and 2010-11.

Additionally, aboriginal inmates are sentenced to longer terms, and spend more time in segregation and maximum security. They are less likely to be granted parole and are more likely to have parole revoked for minor problems.

“If I were releasing a report card on aboriginal corrections today, it would be filled with failing grades,” Sapers said.

The correctional investigator called on CSC to implement the following actions:

  • To appoint a deputy commissioner for aboriginal corrections.
  • The development of a long-term strategy to increase opportunities for the care and custody of aboriginal offenders by aboriginal communities, and the re-allocation of adequate funds for these purposes.
  • The creation of more community-based healing lodges and permanent funding for them, equal to CSC facilities.
  • Ongoing training of CSC staff to ensure adequate understanding of aboriginal people, culture and traditions.
  • New and enhanced measures to ensure aboriginal leadership and elders are equal partners in the delivery of community release and re-integration program and services.
  • The immediate hiring of more aboriginal community development officers.
  • Improving and streamlining the process around accepting and monitoring released offenders into aboriginal communities.

A ‘cloud’ over Canada’s human rights record

“The overrepresentation of aboriginal people in federal corrections and the lack of progress to improve the disparity in correctional outcomes continues to cloud Canada’s domestic human rights record,” Sapers said.

The acting chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, David Langtry, commended Sapers for a “bold” report, calling the findings “grave,” “troubling,” and requiring “urgent attention.”

“We are still seeing a disproportionate number of aboriginal women in solitary confinement, which creates barriers to access to rehabilitation programs. As a result, aboriginal women in corrections do not get paroled early, if at all. Not only are they over-represented, they are serving more time. These facts were confirmed by the correctional investigator today,” Langtry said in a written statement.

Shawn Atleo, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said the prison system needs to work with aboriginal communities to successfully reintegrate offenders into society, ending the revolving door many young aboriginals experience between prison and freedom.

Canadians have this problem where we like to pretend that we’re not racist. The media helps to support this viewpoint by the fact that US problems are talked about more while the systematic racism in Canada, especially against Aboriginal people, is largely ignored. It also goes against the Canada is a true multicultural nation so the government on all level like to pretend it doesn’t exist.

But it’s there for people who are willing to look at the prevalent attitudes instead of pretending they don’t exist.  Then they’ll see that Canadians are not really much better than our neighbours to the south no matter how much we pretend to be.

Originally posted by memento-mori-inaeternum

It actually breaks my heart that so many Canadians are oblivious to our own disgusting brand of systemic racism.

And this isn’t even getting into how we treat First Nations people who aren’t in jail. 

I swear I didn’t deliberately wait until Canada Day to reblog this. It just worked out that way as I’ve been going through my favorites and finally reading some of the more in-depth posts.

But this bears reblogging over and over again, regardless of what day it is.


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