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State of the Criminal Justice System Dashboard

Studies

Studies and resources have been included here to provide contextual information and enhance the understanding of the data presented within the State of the Criminal Justice System Dashboard. Qualitative research and studies focus on storytelling, context and meaning. By studying a topic area closely, the researcher comes to understand the nuances and rich culture that may not be easily understood by simply looking at numerical data or studying a topic for a shorter amount of time.

In consultation with subject matter experts who have expertise in the area of Indigenous legal traditions and/or the experience of Indigenous people's interaction with the criminal justice system, Justice Canada has compiled the following list of studies and resources. Although not an exhaustive list, it reflects some of Indigenous people's histories, which includes the impact of colonialization, socio-economic marginalization, systemic discrimination and violence. This information has been gathered to help raise awareness and understanding of the experiences of Indigenous people with the criminal justice system.

Studies and Reports

Barker, B., G. T. Alfred, K. Fleming, P. Nguyen, E. Wood, T. Kerr and K. DeBeck. 2015. “Aboriginal street-involved youth experience elevated risk of incarceration.” Public Health, 129(12), 1662-1668. Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033350615003054

An analysis of longitudinal data from almost 8 years of observations. Results indicate that Aboriginal ancestry remains positively and significantly associated with incarceration despite adjustment for numerous potential confounders (i.e., gender, homelessness, drug use practices, and drug dealing).

Barron, F. L. 1988. “The Indian pass system in the Canadian west, 1882-1935.” Prairie Forum, 13(1), 2542. Available at: http://iportal.usask.ca/docs/Prairie%20Forum/The%20Indian%20Pass%20System%20(v13no1_1988_pg25-42).pdf

This article is a description and analysis of the Indian pass system which was designed to confine First Nations people to their reserves in specific areas of the Prairies.

Bombay, A., K. Matheson and H. Anisman. 2009. “Intergenerational trauma: Convergence of multiple processes among First Nations peoples in Canada.” Journal of Aboriginal Health. p. 6-47. Available at: https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/ijih/article/view/28987/23916

This article reviews research investigating intergenerational effects of the Indian Residential School system in Canada. The article presents information on historical trauma, which contributes to the ongoing disparities in well-being in the Indigenous population due to the generational accumulation of sustained attacks against a group that interact with proximal stressors to undermine a collective well-being.

Bombay, A., K. Matheson and H. Anisman. 2014. “The intergenerational effects of Indian Residential Schools: Implications for the concept of historical trauma.” Transcultural Psychiatry, 51(3), 320-338. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1363461513503380

An article that reviews research which has investigated intergenerational effects of the Indian Residential School system in Canada. The authors provide evidence for the concept of historical trauma, which contributes to ongoing disparities in well-being in the Indigenous population due to the generational accumulation of sustained attacks against a group that interact with proximal stressors to undermine a collective well-being.

Bressan, A. and K. Coady. 2017. “Guilty pleas among Indigenous people in Canada.” Ottawa, ON: Research & Statistics Division, Department of Justice. Available at: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2018/jus/J4-62-2017-eng.pdf

Justice system professionals were interviewed as part of this study which explores the circumstances under which Indigenous people plead guilty. Three key factors, justice system incentives, social vulnerabilities, and culture and community, are identified as contributing to guilty pleas.

Brownell M., N. Nickel, L. Turnbull, W. Au, O. Ekuma, L. MacWilliam, S. McCulloch, J. Valdivia, J. Boram Lee, E. Wall-Wieler and J. Enns. “The Overlap Between the Child Welfare and Youth Criminal Justice Systems: Documenting “Cross-Over Kids” in Manitoba.” Winnipeg, MB. Manitoba Centre for Health Policy. Spring 2020. Available at: http://mchp-appserv.cpe.umanitoba.ca/reference/MCHP_JustCare_Report_web.pdf

This report examines the overlap between involvement in the child welfare system (for children age 0-17) and youth criminal justice system (for youth age 12-17) in Manitoba. The study sought to quantify the overlap between involvement with the child welfare system and the youth criminal justice system and to identify the characteristics associated with involvement with the youth criminal justice system. Recognizing the over-representation of Indigenous children and youth in both systems, the report provides context on and a description of that overrepresentation.

Brzozowski, J., A. Taylor-Butts and S. Johnson. 2006. “Victimization and offending among the Aboriginal population in Canada.” Juristat. Vol. 26, no. 3, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 2006. Available at: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/85-002-x2006003-eng.pdf

This Juristat examines the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system, as victims/survivors and accused/offenders. The report also examines Indigenous peoples’ fear of crime and their perceptions of the justice system.

Castellano, M., L. Archibald and M. DeGagné. 2008. “From Truth to Reconciliation Transforming the Legacy of Residential Schools.” Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Available at: http://www.ahf.ca/downloads/from-truth-to-reconciliation-transforming-the-legacy-of-residential-schools.pdf

This report presents a collection of papers and reflections on the experiences with Indian Residential Schools, from more than thirty contributors who have worked to create just and inclusive societies in Canada and abroad.

Chansonneuve, D. 2005. “Reclaiming connections: Understanding residential school trauma among Aboriginal people.” Ottawa, ON: The Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Available at: http://ahf.ca/downloads/healing-trauma-web-eng.pdf

This is a learning and reference manual for service providers working with Indigenous people dealing with trauma linked to residential school abuse.

Chartrand, L. and K. Horn. 2016. “A Report on the Relationship between Restorative Justice and Indigenous Legal Traditions in Canada.” Ottawa, ON: Department of Justice. Available at: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/rjilt-jrtja/index.html

The report discusses restorative justice and Indigenous legal traditions independently as well as the relationship between them.

Clark, S. 2016. “Evaluation of the Gladue Court, Old City Hall, Toronto.” Toronto, ON: Aboriginal Legal Services. Available at: https://www.aboriginallegal.ca/assets/gladue-court-evaluation---final.pdf

Evaluation of the Gladue Court at Old City Hall, Toronto that finds the court to be effective in meeting its objectives. Despite ongoing challenges the court must address, it is providing a critically important service to Indigenous people in the justice system, their families, and the larger community.

Clark, S. 2019. “Aboriginal Overrepresentation in the Criminal Justice System: Causes and Responses.” Ottawa, ON: Department of Justice. Available at: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/oip-cjs/index.html

This literature review addresses the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the Canadian criminal justice system. It examines the extent of overrepresentation, its underlying causes, and some initiatives taken to address the issue. The report also identifies gaps in the efforts to address overrepresentation and suggests potential ways to mitigate the problem.

Dickson-Gilmore, J. 2014. “Whither restorativeness? Restorative justice and the challenge of intimate violence in Aboriginal communities.” Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 56(4), 417-446. Available at: https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/cjccj.2014.S02

Drawing upon years of work with Cree communities, this article explores the realities of intimate violence and restorative responses, arguing that there is additional work to be done before restorative processes can be applied to intimate violence in these communities.

Environics Institue. 2010. “Urban Aboriginal peoples study.” Toronto, ON: Environics Institute. Available at: https://www.uaps.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/UAPS-FULL-REPORT.pdf

This article discusses an overview, context, methodology and results of the Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study (UAPS) which included 3 separate research components: 2,614 in-person interviews considered to be the ‘Main Survey’ with First Nations, Métis and Inuit people across Canada; a telephone survey with 2,501 non-Aboriginal Canadians; and an online pilot survey of which 182 current and past National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (NAAF) scholars completed.

Hansen, J. G. 2012. “Countering imperial justice: The implications of a Cree response to crime.” Indigenous Policy Journal, 23(1). Available at: http://articles.indigenouspolicy.org/index.php/ipj/article/view/47

This paper explores the concept of justice through the perspective of six Swampy Cree elders from northern Manitoba. Restorative justice is discussed in relation to ideas about education and other traditional principles and practices in Swampy Cree philosophy.

Human Rights Watch. 2013. “Those who take us away: Abusive policing and failures in protection of Indigenous women and girls in Northern British Columbia, Canada.” Available at: https://hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/canada0213webwcover_0.pdf

This report addresses the relationship between the RCMP and indigenous women and girls in northern BC and documents how Indigenous women have been both under-protected by police and victims of police abuse.

Kubik, W., C. Bourassa and M. Hampton. 2009. “Stolen sisters, second class citizens, poor health: The legacy of colonization in Canada.” Available at: https://www.amnesty.ca/sites/amnesty/files/amr200032004enstolensisters.pdf

The report investigates the role of discrimination in violence carried out against Indigenous women in Canada, which takes the form of both overt cultural prejudice and implicit or systemic biases in government policies and actions or of society more broadly.

Martel, J., R. Brassard and M. Jaccoud. 2011. « When two worlds collide: Aboriginal risk management in Canadian corrections.” The British Journal of Criminology, 51(2), 235-255. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275305744_When_Two_Worlds_Collide_Aboriginal_Risk_Management_in_Canadian_Corrections

This paper examines the risk management approach in Canadian prisons that was adopted as a response to the overrepresentation of Indigenous offenders. The authors attempt to answer the question “to what extent, …does the aboriginalization of prisons constitute a valuable transformation?”

Niman, S. 2018. “The healing power of Gladue reports.” In Widening the Lens on Criminal Justice Reform (article series). Available at: http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/may-2018/the-healing-power-of-gladue-reports/

This article is part of the Widening the Lens on Criminal Justice Reform series that brings together experts to look at the criminal justice system from different perspectives, with an eye toward a more comprehensive approach. The article outlines the value of Gladue reports in identifying the underlying causes of criminality and helping to heal.

Reading, C. and S. de Leeuw. 2014. “Aboriginal experiences with racism and its impacts [Technical Report].” Available at: https://www.nccih.ca/495/Aboriginal_Experiences_with_Racism_and_its_Impacts.nccah?id=131

The focus of this paper is on the lived and structural forms of racism. The article explores how the dominant racialized group expresses racism in historic and current contexts and how Aboriginal people in Canada experience racism and the impact on Indigenous people and their well-being. [Adapted from p1]

Rudin, J. (n.d.) “Aboriginal peoples and the criminal justice system.” Ottawa, ON: Government of Ontario. Available at: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/inquiries/ipperwash/policy_part/research/pdf/Rudin.pdf

This report, written for the Ipperwash Inquiry, explores the relationship between Indigenous people and the criminal justice system, with a particular focus on the situation in Ontario. It offers recommendations for addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system.

Rudin, J. 2008. “Aboriginal Over-representation and R. v. Gladue: Where We Were, Where We Are and Where We Might Be Going.” The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference, Vol 40. Available at: https://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1129&context=sclr

This report provides a discussion on the background and history behind the Gladue decision and the impact on the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system.

Rudin, J. 2018. “The (in)justice system and Indigenous people. In Widening the Lens on Criminal Justice Reform (article series).” Available at: http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/april-2018/the-injustice-system-and-indigenous-people/

This article is part of the Widening the Lens on Criminal Justice Reform series that brings together experts to look at the criminal justice system from different perspectives, with an eye toward a more comprehensive approach. The article outlines issues related to how the criminal justice system deals with Indigenous people.

Scrim, K. 2010. “Aboriginal Victimization in Canada: A Summary of the Literature” Victims of Crime Research Digest No. 3, Department of Justice. Available at: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/victim/rd3-rr3/p3.html

This article summarizes the findings of a literature review on the criminal victimization of Indigenous peoples in Canada. This review paid specific attention to demographic and social trends that have been regarded as factors possibly influencing high victimization rates.

Stout, M. D. and G. Kipling. 2003. “Aboriginal people, resilience and the residential school legacy.” Ottawa, ON: Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Available at: http://ahf.ca/downloads/resilience.pdf

In this report, a critical analysis of the resilience literature is undertaken and is considered against the cultures, lived experiences and larger social contexts of Indigenous Survivors of residential school. The findings serve as the basis for recommended actions in the areas of planning and research, interventions and evaluation.

Wesley-Esquimaux, C. C. and M. Smolewski. 2004. “Historic trauma and Aboriginal healing.” Ottawa, ON: Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Available at: http://ahf.ca/downloads/historic-trauma.pdf

A study that proposes a model to describe the intergenerational transmission of historic trauma and examines the implications for healing in a contemporary Indigenous context. The purpose was to develop a comprehensive historical framework of Indigenous trauma.

Videos and Websites

Aboriginal Legal Services. 2018. Community council program. Available at: https://www.aboriginallegal.ca/community-council-program.html

This is a link to the Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) program website. The Mission Statement of the ALS is “to strengthen the capacity of the Aboriginal community and its citizens to deal with justice issues and provide Aboriginal controlled and culturally based justice alternatives.”

Department of Justice. 2018. “Transforming the Criminal Justice System [Video Series].” Ottawa, ON: Author. Available at: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/news-nouv/photo/video3.html

This is the story of Jamie and his experience in a restorative justice process after being involved in a conflict between him and a social worker. The video walks viewers through the process of participating in a First Nations Healing Circle, illustrating each participant’s role and the conflict from their perspective.

Department of Justice. 2018. “Transforming the Criminal Justice System [Video Series].” Ottawa, ON: Author. Available at: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/news-nouv/photo/video7.html

Jorgina Sunn is an Indigenous women who is a survivor of the child welfare system and the Canadian criminal justice system. This video documents her experience and her thoughts on intergenerational trauma, the federal institutions and the criminal justice system at large.

Department of Justice. 2018. “Transforming the Criminal Justice System [Video Series].” Ottawa, ON: Author. Available at: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/news-nouv/photo/video8.html

Devon Napope is an Indigenous man who experienced poverty, addiction and gang involvement due to residential school trauma. Devon discusses his experiences from a child to becoming involved in the youth justice system and later the adult system as well as the emotional toll it took on him.

Luksic, N. and T. Howell. 2017. “Return of the Michif Boy: Confronting Métis trauma.” CBC News. Available at: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/return-of-the-michif-boy-confronting-m%C3%A9tis-trauma-1.4037672

PhD student Jesse Thistle was once a high school drop-out who spent more than a decade in and out of homeless shelters, consumed by drug and alcohol addiction. By reconnecting with his birth mother and spending time with his Métis elders, [Jesse shares] how he came to understand the effects of intergenerational trauma.

Click on the link above to learn more about the overrepresentation of Indigenous people with the criminal justice system.

Click on the link above to learn how to share your study on Indigenous people’s experiences interacting with the criminal justice system