The fear of self-identifying as Indigenous was also a common thread, often connected to the repercussions that might come with such an identity. Research suggests that the greatest impact of colonial legacies have been felt by young people (Schwan & Lightman, 2013). 1“Aboriginal Peoples” is a collective name for all of the original peoples of Canada and their descendants (National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO). needs to be situated in the history of the colonial destruction of kinship systems (Schwan & Lightman, 2013). The government should monitor and ensure CASs’ compliance with any legislation, regulations and policy directives pertaining to human rights-based data collection, with the aim of increasing the accuracy of the data collected and reducing the amount of missing or unknown data to zero. 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. They didn’t tell us who to aspire to be. The government should commit to fully implementing the United Nations. The circles intuitively recognized the central (and respected) role that young people once occupied in Indigenous communities. Through our ceremony, through our own traditional values, with our own communities getting healthy. The study attempted to respect key core values of Indigenous research as suggested by Cunneen and Tauri (2016), which include recognition of Indigenous knowledge and respectful and culturally informed engagement of participants. • Aboriginal youth in pre-trial detention were detained an average of 29.3 days, compared to 10.8 days for non-Aboriginal youth. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminolog... Community engagement in youth justice program design, Over-represented and misunderstood: Pacific young people and juvenile justice in NSW. The intersection of Canadian colonial history and contemporary arts programming with Inuit youth, Expanding health literacy: Indigenous youth creating videos, Engaging Indigenous urban youth in environmental learning: The importance of place revisited, A general induction approach for qualitative analysis, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Decolonizing engagement? Overall, the proportion of Indigenous children admitted into care was 2.6 times higher than their proportion in the child population. Create a link to share a read only version of this article with your colleagues and friends. 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). Among youth and women offenders, the overrepresentation is even more dramatic. The Supreme Court of Canada has called the overrepresentation of Indigenous people “a crisis in the Canadian justice system” (Rudin, 2005, p. 5). Sentencing decisions are also impacted by the lack of community capacity to address needs for education, employment, housing, and social services (Balfour, 2012). However, the results are themes that are derived from the lived and observed experiences of Indigenous young people and the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Métis communities. Perhaps the theme that involved the longest and deepest conversations in the talking circles among the Elder, the Oshkawbaywuss (helpers/apprentices), the cultural advisor and all of the participant young people, was the key role that history, tradition, culture, and ceremony would need to play in the well-being of Indigenous young people, particularly in regard to identity and self-worth. Almost 9,000 Indigenous people aged 10–17 were on care and protection orders at 30 June 2017, and nearly 8,000 were in out-of-home care. Indigenous females accounted for 44% of all females admitted to custody, while Indigenous males accounted for 29% of all males (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 2016). Jackson (2015) argues that systemic discrimination, racism, and the over-policing of Indigenous communities play their part in the overrepresentation of youth in custody. There were specific examples of how the talking circles thought history, tradition, culture, and ceremony could be delivered in a therapeutic manner. 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). One member of the circle shared the following: My parents act like children because they never learned how to parent properly, they yelled a lot and had temper tantrums … and they passed it on to me. One person suffers from (what happened to their) parents then the next suffers from them…. Over the past five years, the rate of Aboriginal youth (aged 10-17 years) under justice supervision decreased by 13.1 per cent (from 170.2 to 147.9 per 10,000) compared with a 34.8 per cent decrease among non-Aboriginal youth (from 16.2 to 10.6 per 10,000). The crisis of Aboriginal over-incarceration in Canada is one of the most well-documented features of our Criminal Justice System. Emerging themes (or categories) were developed by studying the transcripts repeatedly, and considering possible meanings and how these fit with developing themes (Thomas, 2003). The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1995) locate the root cause of Indigenous crime and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system in Canada’s history of colonialism and its continuing effects in respect to social disorder in Indigenous communities. For the past few decades, there has been growing publicity about the over-representation of Indigenous and other minority children in our child welfare systems across Canada. 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. Find out about Lean Library here, If you have access to journal via a society or associations, read the instructions below. Each talking circle was led by an Elder, his two Oshkawbaywuss (helpers/apprentices), and an Indigenous Cultural Advisor. This crisis is especially profound in the youth context. The theme of identity was a key theme in the talking circles, and another critical point in understanding the overrepresentation of young people in the criminal justice system and youth custody. 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. Even the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2012 noted that Canada needed to take urgent measures to address the “discriminatory over-representation” of Indigenous children who were in “out-of-home” care. Give Indigenous youth somewhere to feel safe and like they belong. One young person noted, “Intergenerational racism meant that youth never found their soul and no one put them in the right direction, where they needed to be.”. Successful Indigenous prevention, rehabilitation, and programming are facilitated by the inclusion of a cultural match (Ryan et al., 2006). Some would argue, the problem of the overrepresentation of Indigenous young people has failed to show improvement because law reform does little to tackle the intergenerational social problems resulting from government policies that underpin violence, poverty, and substance abuse in Indigenous communities (Murdocca as cited in Balfour, 2012). You are a product of generations who survived … we survived genocide, colonization.”… “A lot of people did not survive colonization. If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice. Child advocate Lisa Broda said those numbers are a reflection of the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in the child welfare and justice systems. Colonialism has led to distrust of all government agencies, but in particular in terms of the police who participated in assimilationist policies (Perry, 2009). The government should require by law that all [Children’s Aid Societies (CASs)] – both mainstream and Indigenous – collect human rights-based data, including race-based data, and poverty-related information. This generally requires a substantial time commitment to build relationships (Allen et al., 2012). One of the helpers remarked, “Now older people make all the decisions in back rooms. 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. Where an agency finds elements consistent with systemic racial discrimination, they must take steps to respond. (Barker et al., 2015, pp. 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 residential school system operated from the 1880 into the closing decades of the 20th century. Specifically, the study sought (a) their thoughts on broader issues that contribute to the overrepresentation of young people, and (b) strategies on how to reduce the overrepresentation of young people in the future. Youth feel undervalued and unimportant in institutions today.” All participants recognized the importance of hearing young people’s opinions, the necessity to demonstrate to Indigenous young people that they were cared for, and the importance of gaining young people’s trust. Sinha and Kozlowski (2013) provide further details in their article, The Structure of Aboriginal Child Welfare in Canada. 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). 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). It should be noted however, that the term “Indigenous” (meaning native to the area), is the term used by the United Nations, for Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and is increasingly used by Aboriginal scholars and advocates to describe Aboriginal Peoples collectively, inclusively and to recognize the place of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s late-colonial era (NAHO). The arts are perceived by Indigenous communities to be functional, and sacred endeavours that continue to be used for communication, teaching, values transmission and experiential learning (Flicker et al., 2014). Even sitting beside a tree makes me calmer.” The circles’ members were in agreement that engaging Indigenous young people in activities that taught young people the centrality of the land to Indigenous life could satisfy multiple objectives, including the building of Indigenous identity, the learning of traditional teachings, culture and ceremony, the building of trust, and, “While doing (the) activity, (you) can check in, break down walls…. The 2015 findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission confirmed that the over-representation of Indigenous children in Canadian child welfare systems has reached a crisis level. 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. Seldom are narratives about Indigenous peoples counterbalanced with explorations of resilience, resistance, agency, and power (Schwan & Lightman, 2013). Their parents were burdened with significant psychological issues, which meant they could not care for themselves or others, did not have the ability to develop healthy relationships and, in some cases, passed on the neglect and abuse they themselves had suffered as children (Bania, 2017). Almost every participant shared a story about the impact their shared history has had on their own families. Getting them on the land and off the streets….”, take them to the mountains to fast, to find their name…. Jackson (2015) also suggests that stereotypes about Indigenous families being irresponsible or having addiction problems may also come to play. Risk factors associated with offending and disproportionality found among Aboriginal communities must be understood in the context of structural factors connected to the legacy of colonization (Barker et al., 2015). This crisis is harming the next generation of Indigenous youth. In its review of the overrepresentation of young people in custody, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) (2015a, 2015b) suggested, “The youth justice system perhaps more than the adult criminal justice system, is failing Aboriginal families” (p. 177). Both give testimony to the strength of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Talking circles were the means by which focus groups were established. Ivan Zinger, the Correctional Investigator of Canada, issued his statement and a challenge earlier this month, reporting the proportion of Indigenous people behind bars has now surpassed 30 per cent. Combatting over-representation of Indigenous youth in the Queensland criminal justice system through 'justice reinvestment' Hage, Tamara, and Fellows, Jamie (2018) Combatting over-representation of Indigenous youth in the Queensland criminal justice system through 'justice reinvestment'. Any initiative within the Indigenous community and efforts to “help” need to be sensitive to the history of colonization and other efforts of “caretaking”—particularly in regard to social services (Schwan & Lightman, 2013). 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. Less Time with Lawyers. 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. (. However, he also notes that there is evidence that police may be more likely to respond informally to non-Indigenous young people (through diversion) and more likely to respond formally (through arrest) to Indigenous young people. In communities where Indigenous young people are routinely stopped, searched, and questioned, it is not surprising that these same young people are hostile toward police (Perry, 2009). 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. As noted previously, there is a strong association between the social disorganization, social disadvantage, and crime rates found in Indigenous communities (Fitzgerald & Carrington, 2008). The two helpers met with participant volunteers individually (and before the circle began) in order to review and sign consent forms. INDIGENOUS YOUTH AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: AN OVERVIEW 15 Indigenous people experience very high rates of a variety of physical and mental illnesses, which contribute to poorer quality of life and higher mortality rates. Indigenous young people are more likely to be engaged in programming and initiatives if they are anchored in history, tradition, culture, and ceremony, but are also centred on participatory learning. The central purpose of this study was to provide a platform for Indigenous young peoples’ opinions regarding the overrepresentation of Indigenous young people in the criminal justice system. The e-mail addresses that you supply to use this service will not be used for any other purpose without your consent. 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). “(We are) Afraid to talk about being Indigenous…” Because of ongoing stereotypes in the dominant society (and to some degree in the Indigenous community) about what it means to be Indigenous, some participants suggested that they often did not “Feel Indigenous enough” and in fact had people remark “…Well he doesn’t look Indigenous.” Participants noted the irony in this experience, because there were times in their lives that they experienced bullying as several participants said, “For being too native.” As the Elder so succinctly noted to the talking circle: Residential school was very symbolic, it took away our language, our young ones, our ability to parent … Generations of loss of our culture, our identity, our young men do not have the ability to know who they are…. 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. overrepresentation   of   Indigenous   youth   in   the   criminal   justice   system   is   a   result   of   the   Canadian   government’s   failure   to   address   social   issues   stemming   from   colonialism as well as the lack of concrete sentencing measures to address systemic (d)The “child-welfare-to-prison pipeline.”. Annie Gaughan for her research support. The overrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples in jails and youth detention in B.C. However, as Schwan and Lightman (2013) argue, we need to critically assess how we narrate, characterize, and label the Indigenous experience. Homel, Lincoln, and Herd (1999) describe Indigenous cultural resilience in terms of Indigenous peoples’ diversity, revival and distinctiveness. 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. Anand, S. (2000). For more information view the SAGE Journals Sharing page. 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). Youth feel undervalued and unimportant in institutions today.”. “(Youth, need to) Get to know there is a greater purpose for being here. 147-168. Doob and Sprott (2007) have argued that there is evidence to suggest that (a) differences in sentencing cannot be accounted for by discrimination at sentencing alone, (b) a number of cities in Canada have much higher Indigenous populations than others, and (c) the operation of Canada’s youth justice system varies across cities. 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. James Cook University Law Review, 24. pp. For the past few decades, there has been growing publicity about the over-representation of Indigenous and other minority children in our child welfare systems across Canada. Custody rates for administrative offences are three times higher than for non-Indigenous young people (Corrado et al., 2014). For more information view the SAGE Journals Article Sharing page. The above quote by the circles’ Elder, encapsulates the belief that many Indigenous community members likely share—and that is that, through Indigenous traditions, Indigenous peoples can heal their own young people. Criminal justice models are witnessing the increasing ownership of the administration of law by Indigenous communities (see, e.g., the Children’s Koori Court in Victoria, Australia, and the initiatives of the Mohawk band at Akwesasne, the first of its kind in Canada). Within this framework, Elders are considered “the original teachers” (Swayze, 2009). (, Ryan, N., Head, B., Keast, R., Brown, K. (, Stewart, S., Riecken, T., Scott, T., Tanaka, M., Riecken, J. Indigenous peoples have been seen as subjects or objects of research (Champagne, 2015), and research has historically been completed on them, rather than with them (Drawson, Toombs, & Mushquash, 2017). They indicated that it meant a lot that they were able to be with other Indigenous young people who shared their opinions and sympathized with their own attempts to understand their identities. Simply select your manager software from the list below and click on download. As one participant suggested, “(it’s about) reclaiming roots, giving them tools, showing them supports and how to access.” One participant gave an example of the importance of ceremony in their everyday saying that, “Reclaiming our roots. The destruction of Indigenous families, which participants connected directly to colonization and residential schools, was a common theme in the study’s talking circles. See Recommendation 22, Developing special programs to address the specific needs of Indigenous and/or racialized clients and increase hiring of Indigenous and racialized staff, Creating anti-discrimination and harassment policies that explicitly define racial discrimination as a type of discrimination that is illegal and provide relevant examples, Creating accountability mechanisms, such as complaints and disciplinary procedures, Building dialogue and relationships with racialized and Indigenous groups in the community, Undertaking comprehensive organizational development projects that incorporate the elements above. The OHRC also summarizes the causes of neglect in this community as “chronic family concerns, such as poverty, poor and unsafe housing, substance use, mental health issues and social isolation”. 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