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This taught young people the values and rules they needed to observe to become adults who understood their place within the interconnected world, for harmony, peace, and the “good life” (Grekul & LaBoucane-Benson as cited in Bania, 2017). Many of the themes that arose from our discussions with the Indigenous Advisory Group and the young people who participated in our talking circles mirrored themes and findings from the research literature. Indigenous young people are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than their non-Indigenous peers (Corrado et al., 2014). The crisis of Aboriginal over-incarceration in Canada is one of the most well-documented features of our Criminal Justice System. The evidence suggested that on-reserve child welfare systems received 38% less funding than elsewhere. View or download all content the institution has subscribed to. The increasing status of Indigenous overrepresentation is a clear indication of the failures of the Canadian Criminal Justice System. Sign in here to access free tools such as favourites and alerts, or to access personal subscriptions, If you have access to journal content via a university, library or employer, sign in here, Research off-campus without worrying about access issues. These include: Demonstrating strong leadership that shows that racial discrimination will not be tolerated, Establishing stable and long-term resources within the agency dedicated to human rights and equity activity, Removing any bias or adverse impacts that exist in the agency’s rules, standards, formal and informal policies, procedures, decision-making practices and organizational culture, Investigating any alleged discriminatory conduct and taking corrective action where it is substantiated, up to and including dismissal, Providing further anti-racism and cultural competency training to staff and management. Given the concurrence between the circle member’s thoughts and that of the research literature regarding the overrepresentation of Indigenous young people and possible solutions, the way forward seems apparent. However, existing studies indicate that children from families who are Black and from other visible minority groups, including those who are new Canadians, experience higher percentages of referrals for investigation, over-monitoring and higher numbers of decisions resulting in out-of-home placements. Create a link to share a read only version of this article with your colleagues and friends. Special thanks to the young people who shared their thoughts with us, without whom this study would not be possible. This crisis is especially profound in the youth context. Key decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, and several reports on Indigenous people and the justice system, have concluded that Indigenous people face systemic discrimination throughout the criminal justice system (Rudin, 2005). Conclusion In general, the overrepresentation of indigenous youth in the criminal justice system results from social conditions of reserves and systematic biases that are available in the justice system. Indigenous youth — just 8 percent of Canada’s youth population — … Social science research has historically reaffirmed the West’s view of itself as the center of legitimate knowledge and the arbiter of what counts as knowledge (Cunneen et al., 2016). They told him who he was instead of my parents. Indigenous youth are overrepresented in both custody and community supervision, making up 48% of custody admissions and 39% of community admissions in 2017/2018 in the reporting jurisdictions. For more information view the SAGE Journals Article Sharing page. Some of the most systemically discriminatory policies pertained to residential schools, which resulted in Indigenous children being taken from their families and removed from loving parents, parental role models, and thus losing their cultures and their identities. An inductive approach was used for the analysis of the raw data. Though I was raised on (a) First Nation, I wasn’t raised in the culture. How they hell did I make it out? For example, in some jurisdictions, child welfare legislation has been amended to require notification to/ consultation with First Nations officials when a child from their community is being placed into care or an adoption plan is being made for the child (See, for example Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, RSA 2000 c C-12, s 67). Within traditional Indigenous societies, individuals, clans, communities, the natural environment, and spirit were connected through interdependent relationships (Grekul & LaBoucane-Benson as cited in Bania, 2017). These have created stereotypes and racism that Indigenous people experience from the non-Indigenous community that continue to be manifested and reinforced. The OHRC analyzes the factors that result in discrimination in the context of child welfare decision-making. (d)The “child-welfare-to-prison pipeline.”. Research suggests that the greatest impact of colonial legacies have been felt by young people (Schwan & Lightman, 2013). Key among the reasons for its never-ending nature include: the fact that policies often… The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples found that though over-policing and systemic discrimination play their part in higher Indigenous crime rates, economic and social deprivation are the underlying causes of higher rates of criminality amongst Indigenous people (Anand, 2000). According to Smith (as cited in Darder et al., 2014), research methodology is a theory of inquiry and research method is a technique by which to gather empirical materials. All these factors place them at greater risk of involvement with crime. However, research ethics boards, located at individual universities, still must grant consent in order for research to be conducted. These provisions, however, have not succeeded in eliminating the difficulties with overrepresentation, according to Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Lean Library can solve it. When analyzing the historical and current situation of the relationship between Indigenous persons and the CJS it becomes apparent why the Supreme Court of Canada refers to this … As one participant suggested, “Our young people don’t know who they are.” Without exception young people, the circle’s helpers, and the cultural advisor all voiced their struggle with their identity and the disconnect they have sometimes felt from their Indigenous heritage. 147-168. Thus in consultation with the Advisory Committee and respecting Indigenous methods the process involved reflection, story, and dialogue (Kovach, 2009). A strong and overwhelming theme that arose from this study is the impact of colonization and residential schools which participants saw as generational, ongoing, and directly connected to the overrepresentation of young people in the youth justice system and youth custody in particular. The government should report on these commitments on an annual basis. Therefore, issues like parental non-involvement (at bail, in programming etc.) Access to society journal content varies across our titles. It is important to note that the Advisory Committee, those leading the talking circles and the participants agreed that we should be cautious about making any assertions about young people who grew up in urban areas versus on reservation as it may only serve to feed misconceptions and stereotypes about which groups are more or less entrenched in Indigeneity, including presumptions about being more or less connected to the land. The circles’ members agreed that Indigenous young people (particularly those who are marginalized and struggling) need to “Go back to roots including (learning) the connection to land, (the) use of Elders.” As one of the helpers suggested, “(it’s important that they) Go back to the land, canoe through swamp, fish, make connections there is a teaching behind each bush, each fish, learn about their clans…. Funding discrepancies also indicate that discrimination exists in the child welfare system. Involving the Indigenous community in a genuine way in programming for Indigenous young people, means endeavouring to teach from within a culture rather than about a culture (Swayze, 2009). by Statistics anada, Indigenous youth continue to be overrepresented in the correctional system remains a key finding.2The youth context of Indigenous overrepresentation is of special concern because the introduction of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)in 2002 is widely believed to have provided significant relief since overall youth incarceration rates in Canada have declined. Repeatedly participants talked about internalized messages that Indigenous young people likely feel such as, “I’m no good ” or “We will always lose.” One participant succinctly outlined how without a sense of self, without direction, it is not surprising that something else may move in to fill the void: It wasn’t instilled in me, who I was. The most significant casual factors underlying overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples are complex. The challenge in identifying the causes of over-representation in the child welfare system related to human rights abuses is that discrimination is often systemic and proven through circumstantial evidence. Despite a reduction in overall youth incarceration rates by 33 percent since 2012/2013, The number of key informants and participants was small and drawn from a particular geographic location in Southern, Ontario. The circle participants were a convenient sample that were likely self-selected (i.e., they were individuals who were likely already aware of Indigenous issues/concerns and were connected with key individuals in the local Indigenous community). In other words, practice-based examples reflecting Indigenous life experiences couched in Indigenous language and the use of Indigenous program designers and instructors (Ryan et al., 2006). The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Funding for this research was provided by the Department of Justice (Canada) and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. This site uses cookies. Surprisingly, there are very few, if any, Canadian studies that have engaged and consulted Indigenous young people on their perceptions regarding why they believe Indigenous young people are over represented in the criminal justice system. The destruction of Indigenous families, which participants connected directly to colonization and residential schools, was a common theme in the study’s talking circles. The history of colonialism, displacement, and residential schools continues to translate into lower educational attainment, lower incomes, higher unemployment, higher rates of suicide and substance abuse, and higher rates of incarceration (Office of the Correctional Investigator, 2013). 2The term residential schools refers to an extensive school system set up by the Canadian government and administered by churches that had the nominal objective of educating Indigenous children but also the more damaging and equally explicit objectives of indoctrinating them into Euro-Canadian and Christian ways of living and assimilating them into mainstream Canadian society. This strategy should contain measurable commitments to address these inequalities, including increasing the availability of funding, housing, services and supports to help families meet their needs and safely keep their children. Not surprisingly, Indigenous young people are confused about their identity. Participants were quite passionate and thoughtful about strategies that might reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous young people. Understanding the Overrepresentation of Indigenous People in the Criminal Justice System Indigenous people are overrepresented in the Canadian criminal justice system as both victims/survivors 8 and accused/convicted persons. The team worked to organize and establish an Indigenous Young People’s Justice Community Advisory Committee comprised of an Elder, a chief, an Indigenous knowledge keeper, Indigenous young people and Indigenous practitioners who work with high risk Indigenous young people. This would appear to be what Smith (as cited in Ray, 2012) describes as the “re-inscribing or reauthorizing of the privileges of non-Indigenous academics” (p. 95). This comment is in keeping with findings from research done on the policing of Indigenous communities which suggest that police appear to carry into their actions with Indigenous people “the same stockpile of stereotypes and images that shape the broader patterns of cultural imperialism” (Perry, 2009, p. 49). Many of today’s Aboriginal children and youth live with the legacy of residential schools every day, as they struggle to deal with high rates of addictions, fetal alcohol disorder, mental health issues, family violence, incarceration of parents, and the intrusion of child-welfare authorities. The results of the study suggest that Indigenous young people and key informants for the Indigenous community have a high level of agreement on the reasons for overrepresentation of Indigenous young people in the criminal justice system and the solutions. New and incumbent child protection workers and managers should be required to undergo training on anti-racism and providing culturally competent services to Indigenous, Black and other racialized families. This debate has been ongoing since the early 1980s, with seemingly no end in sight. They are unsure whether they should remain true to an Indigenous identity or take on aspects of mainstream society (Pirbhai-Illich, 2011). (p. 334). Generally, in countries with populations of Indigenous young people, Indigenous young people are more likely to have a prior offending history, to have had contact with police at an earlier age than non-Indigenous young people, and to be arrested for public order offences (Cunneen, 2008). Recommendations to the government of Ontario, Recommendations to mainstream and Indigenous Children’s Aid Societies (CASs), (c)Anti-Black racism is increasing, according to the latest Statistics Canada report on adult and youth corrections. In addition, policies and practices, such as risk assessment tools that reflect White, Western, Christian notions of child rearing, coupled with unconscious racial biases, may result in incorrect assumptions about the level of risk to which children are exposed. Within this framework, Elders are considered “the original teachers” (Swayze, 2009). Annie Gaughan for her research support. (. There was no view of the future. Among youth and women offenders, the overrepresentation is even more dramatic. Getting them on the land and off the streets….”, take them to the mountains to fast, to find their name…. The aforementioned themes of Indigenous young people-centric, Indigenous community engagement, and the importance of history, tradition, culture, and ceremony, as described in the research literature clearly emerged as central themes in the study’s talking circles. That legacy is quite clear as noted in the following: From the expropriation of land, prohibition of language and cultural practices, forcible removal of Aboriginal children into Church-run residential schools in the late 1800s onwards, to the unaddressed intergenerational trauma, continued economic marginalization, and elevated rates of substance use and poverty today, a myriad of factors contribute as underlying determinants of Aboriginal overrepresentation in prison populations. However, the results that follow are themes that are derived from the lived and observed experiences of Indigenous young people and the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Métis communities. Barker, B., Alfred, G. T., Fleming, K., Nguyen, P., Wood, E., Kerr, T., DeBeck, K. (, Bird-Naytowhow, K., Hatala, A. R., Pearl, T., Judge, A., Sjoblom, E. (, Bracken, D. C., Deane, L., Morrissette, L. (. Before first contact, the “family” within Indigenous communities could be described as a complex combination of biological ties, customary adoptions, clan membership bonds, and economic partnerships (Grekul & LaBoucane-Benson as cited in Bania, 2017). Each of the aforementioned themes underscored an important and central message; that Indigenous young people often feel directionless, have lost their identity and sense of self. If I don’t smudge I lose myself.”. In 2014/2015, though Indigenous young people comprise 7% of the general population, they accounted for 33% of admissions to custody (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 2016). But I did not get it, did not understand it, till I sought it out myself…. Merritt (as cited in McGuire, 2017) suggests that it is important that resilience be defined in an Indigenous context. As Wilson (2008) argues, research which attempts to engage with Indigenous methodologies by utilizing talking circles and storytelling must honor “the talk” (p. 99). The two helpers met with participant volunteers individually (and before the circle began) in order to review and sign consent forms. The Elder, his helpers, the cultural advisor, and the participants all shared their personal experience and that of their families in terms of the legacy of colonization. Indigenous children were over-represented in admissions into care at 93% of agencies we looked at (25 of 27), with many CASs showing extreme levels of disproportionality. Oh no we are just getting to know you”: The relationship in research with children and youth in indigenous communities, Do law reforms matter? There was an increase in the proportion of Indigenous youth receiving an Indigenous health check between 2010 (6%) and 2016 (22%). A Website of The Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta, findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2012. Weibe (2015) argues that “the mere existence of Indigenous people is an everyday act of survival and resistance.” This paper will close with two quotes, one from the circle’s Elder and one from one of the circle’s young people. The e-mail addresses that you supply to use this service will not be used for any other purpose without your consent. The sample of young people was comprised of young people who grew up in an urban area. Indigenous methods value self-knowledge and subjective experience (Absolon as cited in Victor et al., 2016). The disruption of Indigenous communities, the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities, cruel assimilation strategies that prohibited the practice of Aboriginal culture and language, and the experienced abuse in Canadian residential schools have “broken” generations of Aboriginal families (Corrado et al., 2014). Members of _ can log in with their society credentials below, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Carla Cesaroni, Chris Grol, and Kaitlin Fredericks, University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Canada. One of the helpers noted that, “I grew up in a house with alcohol, lots of violence, sexual and verbal abuse. This method aligns with an Indigenous world view that honors orality as a means by which to transmit knowledge (Bird-Naytowhow et al., 2017). Foundations of Indigenous societies all treatment episodes provided by alcohol and other southern Ontario! Have molded us… the Canadian Criminal Justice system indicate that discrimination exists in the context child! Linda McKay-Panos, BEd, JD, LLM, is the reason the numbers keep climbing in discrimination in welfare. The issue of over-representation government requirements to collect, tabulate and report such.. And difficulties facing Indigenous young peoples ’ diversity, revival and distinctiveness get to know there a! Research that promote inclusiveness have recently been implemented federally ( Drawson et al. overrepresentation of indigenous youth 2014 ) identity... Collect human rights-based data really unique art ”: Decolonizing with Indigenous methodologies unimportant! In addressing the issue of over-representation one person suffers from ( what happened to their parents! Values, traditions, and programming are facilitated by the inclusion of a set... Indigenous peoples ’ diversity, revival and distinctiveness should report on these commitments on an annual.! E. 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