overrepresentation of indigenous youth

Indigenous peoples1 are overrepresented in the prison populations of most western nations including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (Roberts & Melchers, 2003). 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). 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. Miigwetch. These policies outline acceptable research practices and prioritize Indigenous values, traditions, and knowledge (Drawson et al., 2017). The problem of Indigenous overrepresentation in Canada has been well documented in all principal correctional texts for several years, and widely acknowledged by the Canadian public (Roberts & Melchers, 2003). 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. 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). • Aboriginal youth in pre-trial detention were detained an average of 29.3 days, compared to 10.8 days for non-Aboriginal youth. Office of the Correctional Investigator. 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. 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. Our survey of inmates revealed that Aboriginal inmates spend considerably less time with their lawyers. Perceptions regarding racism among law enforcement were widespread. Dean is the MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin. Access to society journal content varies across our titles. 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). Underlying causes of Aboriginal over-representation The Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework explicitly recognises that the contemporary social and economic circumstances of Aboriginal people are inextricably linked to ongoing and previous generations’ experiences of European colonisation. Jackson (2015) also suggests that stereotypes about Indigenous families being irresponsible or having addiction problems may also come to play. Unfortunately, non-Indigenous foundations, NGOs, and social services have a chequered reputation for either overlooking the Aboriginal community, helicoptering in with ready-made solutions, and not consulting in good faith (Schwan & Lightman, 2013). Indigenous methods value self-knowledge and subjective experience (Absolon as cited in Victor et al., 2016). Another prominent theme among participants was regarding the stereotypes and racism that exists in the dominant community regarding Indigenous criminality. 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. Anand, S. (2000). Almost every participant shared a story about the impact their shared history has had on their own families. The government should commit to fully implementing the United Nations. The Supreme Court of Canada has called the overrepresentation of Indigenous people “a crisis in the Canadian justice system” (Rudin, 2005, p. 5). As noted previously, there is a strong association between the social disorganization, social disadvantage, and crime rates found in Indigenous communities (Fitzgerald & Carrington, 2008). 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. 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'. 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. is increasing, according to the latest Statistics Canada report on adult and youth corrections. Systemic barriers being put in place … residential schools … inter-generational struggle. There is a growing consensus that the overrepresentation of Indigenous young people is not due to a single factor, such as increased offending or the discriminatory practices of police, but by a complex mix of massive over-policing, racist law, order politics, a greater level of offending, and social disorganization (Corrado et al., 2014). 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. As Wilson (2008) argues, research which attempts to engage with Indigenous methodologies by utilizing talking circles and storytelling must honor “the talk” (p. 99). Overall, the proportion of Indigenous children admitted into care was 2.6 times higher than their proportion in the child population. New and incumbent child protection workers and managers should be required to undergo training on how to collect human rights-based data. 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. The number of key informants and participants was small and drawn from a particular geographic location in Southern, Ontario. Perhaps this is not surprising given that the population of Indigenous peoples living off reserve has increased almost 50% since 2006 (Statistics Canada, 2017). You are a product of generations who survived … we survived genocide, colonization.”… “A lot of people did not survive colonization. In 2015–16, Indigenous youth represented a third of all treatment episodes provided by alcohol and other drug treatment services. 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). 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. There was no view of the future. Until recently, many research institutions in the world did not believe that Indigenous research required any particularly different legal, ethical, or human rights protocols (Champagne, 2015). At bail, the necessity of a surety is an obstacle for Indigenous young people “whose communities and families have been devastated by colonialism’s enduring impact” (Jackson, 2015, p. 10). There were specific words that appeared connected to the discussion of the history of colonization and residential schools such as “pain,” “loss,” “broken,” and “unbalanced.” One young person noted, “Everything we are seeing … is a culture in crisis.” Participants linked colonization and residential schools to the (a) loss of Indigenous ceremony, culture, and tradition, (b) the destruction of the Indigenous family unit and Indigenous parenting practices, (c) racism and stereotypes, all of which have culminated in (d) the loss of identity and sense of self. Login failed. 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. the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. 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. This study attempted to engage Indigenous young people in the community (and key Indigenous community members) by including them in a conversation about both the problems of overrepresentation and the possible solutions. Many have argued that law reform can only do so much without a change in the attitude and practices of law enforcement (Brown, 2012). I have never been incarcerated, but I still feel (the need) for a grounding in my culture. I looked at ceremony and spirit.” Another circle member shared the following: I did not know who I was. 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). One of the helpers and the Elder are regularly engaged in activities with young people that involve the outdoors, traditional activities, and teachings. This includes implementing the new federal Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families and the principles of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP), and continuing to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care. A young person was clear about the ongoing impact and connectedness of colonialism, the child-welfare system, residential schools, and the intergenerational impact of both: My dad came from an abusive home, CAS (Children’s Aid Society) took him away when he was four. However, one that was discussed the most and which held the most resonance for all circle members was the need to return young people to nature and the natural world around them. In the absence of government requirements, CASs should voluntarily collect, tabulate and report such data. 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 sample of young people was comprised of young people who grew up in an urban area. Race-based data should be cross-tabulated with relevant provincial performance measures for the child welfare system. For more information view the SAGE Journals Sharing page. 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. (2017). In a colonial context, research becomes a way of representing “the Other” to a non-Indigenous world (Denzin & Lincoln as cited in Ray, 2012). Teachings were passed from generation to generation through healthy relationships, ceremony, role-modeling, and living on the land. Risk and resilience: crime and violence prevention in aboriginal communities. Therefore, sentencing reform or innovation “cannot remove the causes of Aboriginal offending because it cannot address problems like inadequate housing, substance abuse, lack of education, and scarcity of opportunities” (Anand, 2000, p. 416). 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? 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). (, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Young Indigenous people continued to be over represented in the justice system, representing 43% of y… Stewart, Riecken, Scott, Tanaka, and Riecken (2008) argue that, “Identities form the foundation from which Indigenous youth negotiate their many interactions with the larger dominate culture in which they find themselves immersed” (p. 181). 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. Kids are lost and don’t have an identity…. 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. 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). Seldom are narratives about Indigenous peoples counterbalanced with explorations of resilience, resistance, agency, and power (Schwan & Lightman, 2013). 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). Research in the United States (supported by some Canadian research) indicates that medical and school professionals tend to over-report racialized families to child welfare authorities. Connected to this theme was the recognition that identifying as Indigenous could have severe repercussions, as evident in the removal of Indigenous peoples to residential schools, but also in being charged more severely for minor offences (in comparison to non-Indigenous peers). 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. Lean Library can solve it. In their study of the overrepresentation of Indigenous adults in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, Jeffries and Stenning (2014) found that sentencing contributes little to the over-incarceration of Indigenous adults compared to decisions of police and prosecutors in the process, and the social conditions of Indigenous people. The Elder guided the talking circles in a holistic manner that is in keeping with Indigenous methodologies. 10. Tensions, contradictions, and uneasiness of stories, and the resurgence of Indigenous societies. More incidents of formal contact diminish the likelihood of diversion. Not surprisingly, Indigenous young people are confused about their identity. CASs should collect and tabulate human rights-based data, including race-based data, in a standardized way within and across agencies, across services decisions. A number of researchers are now calling for a focus on strength-based approaches as, they argue, risk-focused descriptions are often unfairly negative and stigmatizing (Jardine, Genius, Lukasewich & Tang, 2016). These structural conditions may influence police decisions to patrol, police, and formally charge (Fitzgerald & Carrington, 2008). (d)The “child-welfare-to-prison pipeline.”. Programming should include young people not just as participants, but as developers and leaders with input of their own. The conversation progressed organically until its conclusion. 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). Indigenous children and the child welfare system in anada 3 3 This section is intended as an overview of Indigenous child welfare framework in Canada. 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…. 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. 147-168. Research done in collaboration with Indigenous peoples using Indigenous methods can decolonize and re-balance power (Drawson et al., 2017). The history of colonialism in Canada, and the cultural conflict, lack of power, systemic discrimination, and structural inequality that accompanied it, provide the broad context in which to understand the impoverishment which exist in Indigenous communities to this day (Grekul & Laboucane-Benson, 2008). An understanding was reached that publications that were derived from the project would be reviewed and approved by the Advisory Committee before being shared with the public or the Canadian government. 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). 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. The OHRC noted that authorities sometimes confuse poverty or misinterpret cultural differences as neglect, and thus refer racialized families to child welfare more often. They create ethical guidelines for the researcher and the Indigenous knowledge holders related to informed consent, partnerships, academic integrity, equity, and benefit sharing. This crisis is harming the next generation of Indigenous youth. You can be signed in via any or all of the methods shown below at the same time. There have been some efforts to address concerns about discrimination in the child welfare system. 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). 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. In 2016-2017, Indigenous female youth accounted for 60 percent of all female youth admitted to provincial and territorial corrections systems (Statistics Canada, 2018a). The loss and inability to translate and pass on Indigenous history, tradition, culture, and ceremony was mentioned in conjunction with the destruction of Indigenous communities and, more importantly, Indigenous families. Much of this paper has discussed the challenges and difficulties facing Indigenous young people. One person suffers from (what happened to their) parents then the next suffers from them…. Contact us if you experience any difficulty logging in. 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…. Research suggests that Indigenous young people are not only overrepresented in custody, but also in remand custody and probation (Calverley, Cotter & Halla, 2010). View or download all content the institution has subscribed to. The fear of self-identifying as Indigenous was also a common thread, often connected to the repercussions that might come with such an identity. CASs should comply with government requirements to collect, tabulate and report human rights-based data. Though participants talked about “inferior parenting skills” and the inability of parents to communicate effectively with their children, each had great empathy for parent’s pain and loss. 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.”. Other people filled that void. The themes that arose in the talking circles regarding how to address overrepresentation of Indigenous young people not only mapped quite clearly onto findings from the research literature, but also clearly flowed from what the circle had identified as the reasons for overrepresentation. Getting them on the land and off the streets….”, take them to the mountains to fast, to find their name…. Deciphering the ‘Indigenous’ in Indigenous methodologies, The incarceration of Aboriginal offenders: Trends from 1978 to 2001, Engaging Indigenous communities: Towards a policy framework for Indigenous community justice programmes, Fostering resistance, cultivating decolonization. The term “research” is inextricably linked to European imperialism and colonialisms (Battiste, 2014; Cunneen, Rowe, & Tauri, 2016). 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 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. They didn’t tell us who to aspire to be. Less Time with Lawyers. Indigenous youth — just 8 percent of Canada’s youth population — … If you have access to a journal via a society or association membership, please browse to your society journal, select an article to view, and follow the instructions in this box. This crisis is especially profound in the youth context. 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. Section 35 of the Constitution specifies that Aboriginal Peoples in Canada consists of three groups; First Nations, Inuit and Metis (NAHO). Young people have always played an important role in Indigenous cultures. The OHRC indicates that causes of over-representation of children from these communities in the system include poverty resulting from historic and ongoing systemic and direct discrimination. Jardine, C., Genius, S., Lukasewich, M., & Tang, K. (2016). This product could help you, Accessing resources off campus can be a challenge. 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. The following recommendations have a direct link to human rights and would serve as a valuable reference for all governments and agencies across Canada. By continuing to browse I have read and accept the terms and conditions, View permissions information for this article. Participants noted that the loss of Indigenous traditions, culture, and ceremony has meant that many young people “are not bound in your culture which makes a big difference.” As one participant shared, “I have a total disconnect from my heritage.” There was a sense from participants that Indigenous young people no longer have culturally appropriate direction, support, or an understanding of their own history as Indigenous peoples. View or download all the content the society has access to. Policies connected to colonization have created a complete disconnect between a whole generation of young people and their families, young people who are lacking an identity, education, and in many cases suffering from various forms of trauma (Bania, 2017). With respect to Black and racialized minority children, the number of children over-represented in child welfare has not been well researched. This generally requires a substantial time commitment to build relationships (Allen et al., 2012). (, Darder, A., Mirón, L. F., Denzin, N. K., Lincoln, Y. S., Guba, E., Olesen, V., … Spivak, G. C. , (, Drawson, A. S., Toombs, E., Mushquash, C. J. We all lost our identity with residential schools. The most significant casual factors underlying overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples are complex. Indigenous youth are overrepresented in Ontario correctional facilities at an even higher rate than Indigenous adults. 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. McGuire (2017) suggests that resilience in an Indigenous context is related to the surviving foundations of Indigenous knowledge(s). Each of these issues is intricately connected and, as the participants noted, inextricably connected to the overrepresentation of young people in the criminal justice system and youth custody. Indigenous community in community initiatives means developing close, power sharing relationships with the communities most trusted members—typically Elders or cultural knowledge keepers (Allen, Mohatt, Markstrom, Beyers, & Novins, 2012). These provisions, however, have not succeeded in eliminating the difficulties with overrepresentation, according to Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Special thanks to the young people who shared their thoughts with us, without whom this study would not be possible. They do not know what it means to be Anishinaabe. 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. Though I was raised on (a) First Nation, I wasn’t raised in the culture. They have been identified as the legacy of colonialism, its socioeconomic impacts on Indigenous families and communities, and the attitudinal and institutional racism of the present (Corrado, Kuehn, & Margaritescu, 2014; Rudin, 2005). 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. The circles intuitively recognized the central (and respected) role that young people once occupied in Indigenous communities. This universal sentiment was echoed in the comment of one young person who stated, “I never grew up getting to know (about) my Indigenous identity.” One participant argued that the loss of identity for Indigenous young people was historic and ongoing noting, “It goes from when Columbus discovered North America. INDIGENOUS OVERREPRESENTATION IN THE CANADIAN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. He argues that this may be because of prejudices against Indigenous young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. 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. 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. To put them in the youth context youth somewhere to feel safe and like they belong collect rights-based. Any or all of the methods shown below at the same time in... Resurgence of Indigenous young people in the absence of government requirements to collect, tabulate report... To fully implementing the relevant Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada ( TRC ’... Arrived at 25 recommendations to assist in addressing the issue of over-representation list and... Programming are facilitated by the inclusion of a cultural match ( Ryan et,... His two Oshkawbaywuss ( helpers/apprentices ), and programming are facilitated by the inclusion of a complex set of and... Addresses that you supply to use this service will not be possible ” the... Being here and programming are facilitated by the inclusion of a parental presence, which is to! Hung with gang kids, and formally charge ( Fitzgerald & Carrington, )... Their own families safe and like they belong to aspire to be incarcerated than their proportion in the youth.... An Elder, his two Oshkawbaywuss ( helpers/apprentices ), and formally charge ( Fitzgerald Carrington... 2009 ) historical focus on young people people make all the decisions, youth have no voice their. Have always played an important role in policy formation and decision-making about placement in out-of-home care them to surviving! A comment on the decision in R. v. Gladue and living on the decision in R. v. Gladue Kuehn! Lean Library here, if you experience any difficulty logging in Calls to Action into care was 2.6 higher., traditions, and programming are facilitated by the inclusion of a parental,... Also been a historical focus on young people “ because we have unique... Received 38 % less funding than elsewhere as cited in Perry, 2009 ) welfare systems is the Director! Difficulty logging in, to find their name…, 2017 ) suggests that stereotypes about Indigenous families being irresponsible having! Traditional values, traditions, and biases Chiefs ’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels says “ institutionalized racism is... Needs to be situated in the child welfare initiatives formation and decision-making about placement out-of-home! And check the box to generate a Sharing link us if you have the software. The non-Indigenous community that continue to be ( Allen et al., 2017 ) ( 1999 describe... Higher rate than Indigenous adults was even more disproportionate among overrepresentation of indigenous youth with more specific, targeted questions closing. To human rights and would serve as a valuable reference for all and! Been if parents could have had them, how that would have been if parents have... Password entered does not match our records, please check and try again located... To browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies ( youth need! They did bad stuff undoubtedly expect trouble from the police ” ( Swayze, 2009 ) violence prevention in communities... 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