Stolen past: Shattered futures, aboriginal justice in Canada
Crow, Catharine L. L.
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It is acknowledged that Canada's criminal justice system has some major flaws, particularly with respect to its application to various ethnic subgroups. Aboriginal Canadians are one subgroup particularly sensitive to the problems in the system as is reflected by their disproportionately high rates of criminality and incarceration. Over the past 50 years many programs have been developed and recommendations have been made to alleviate the tensions Aboriginals find within the system. However, the situation today is essentially the same. Aboriginals are still overrepresented within the system and solutions that have been brought forward have had little success in stemming their flow into the system. Blame for Aboriginal mistreatment in the system has been placed at all levels from line police officers to high-level officials and politicians and attempts to resolve problems continue as an on going process. However, many of the recommendations and reforms have revolved around culture conflict. Although this thesis recognizes the importance of culture conflict in the overrepresentation of Aboriginals within the Canadian criminal justice system, it has also recognized that culture conflict alone is not responsible for all the flaws within the system as it pertains to Aboriginals. This thesis is of the opinion that in order for reforms to the criminal justice system to be successful, the context in which the system is operating must also be considered. Variables such as geographic isolation, economic disparity and social/political stability are viewed as operating in conjunction with culture, ultimately influencing Aboriginal treatment within the system. The conclusions drawn from this study confirm that when these factors operate together, the overrepresentation of Aboriginals within the Canadian criminal justice system is inevitable. Thus all three variables, culture conflict (social/political stability being part), geographic isolation and economic disparity must be address within the system if any significant changes in the crime rates or incarceration rates of Aboriginals is to be expected. In addition, primary research indicated the influence of cooperation as a factor in moderating the effects of criminality; not just cooperation among Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals, but also cooperation among differing Aboriginal communities. It was argued that when all these issues are addressed, Aboriginal peoples in Canada will have the strength to repair their shattered futures.