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. Almost every participant shared a story about the impact their shared history has had on their own families. 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. Young Indigenous people continued to be over represented in the justice system, representing 43% of y… 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. Doob and Sprott (2007) suggest that researchers have still not adequately addressed the question: What is it in the lives of Indigenous young people that accounts for their high rate of involvement in the criminal justice system? 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). If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice. 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). CASs should reach out to and be guided by First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities on data collection standards, training, approaches, analysis and reporting that will respond to the specific context of Indigenous communities. View or download all content the institution has subscribed to. Less Time with Lawyers. 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. 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. Young people have always played an important role in Indigenous cultures. 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. 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. Following the establishment of the circle (with a smudging ceremony), the Elder posed the question, “Why do you feel Indigenous youth are overrepresented in the youth custody system?” An eagle feather was then passed around allowing each individual to speak. 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. Find out about Lean Library here, If you have access to journal via a society or associations, read the instructions below. Sinha and Kozlowski (2013) provide further details in their article, The Structure of Aboriginal Child Welfare in Canada. Each of the young people involved in the circles indicated that it was important to them that they were able to spend meaningful time with an elder and also to be able to be heard. Academic research did not undergo ethical and moral engagements with Indigenous peoples as academic research and scholarship has been plagued with clandestine colonialism (Bird-Naytow-how et al., 2017). Homel, R., Lincoln, R. and Herd, B. (2017). 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. Annie Gaughan for her research support. 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. Exploring the victimization-criminalization continuum in the sentencing of Aboriginal women in Canada, Aboriginal street-involved youth experience elevated risk of incarceration, An uncaring state? Evidently, while overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the Canadian Criminal Justice System has persisted for decades, the crisis is particularly acute in the youth justice system. The over-representation of Indigenous Australians in prison is one of the most urgent human rights issues facing the country today, according to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda, as reported by the ABC. The Ontario Human Rights Commission recently released a report called Interrupted Childhoods: Over-representation of Indigenous and Black children in Ontario child welfare (February 2018) and this report confirms what others have been saying. 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. McGuire, P.D. Oh no we are just getting to know you”: The relationship in research with children and youth in indigenous communities, Do law reforms matter? According to the Council of Provincial and Child Advocates (2010), “For Aboriginal children and youth in Canada, there is a greater likelihood of involvement in the criminal justice system, including detention in a youth custody facility, than there is for a high school graduation” (p. 6). 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). 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). 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. 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. Each individual described the role that Indigenous history, tradition, culture, and ceremony had played in their own recovery or reparation of their self-worth. 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. Jackson (2015) argues that though consideration of an Indigenous young person’s unique background at sentencing is important, it simply is not impacting Indigenous young peoples’ over-incarceration. Some society journals require you to create a personal profile, then activate your society account, You are adding the following journals to your email alerts, Did you struggle to get access to this article? The overrepresentation of Indigenous young people in custody Indigenous young people are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than their non-Indigenous peers (Corrado et al., 2014). Additionally, it has been suggested that traditional development and design of programs and legal solutions continue to be based on adversarial justice and mainstream interventions that fail to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of Indigenous people (Ryan, Head, Keast, & Brown, 2006). Overrepresentation in custody is more pronounced for Indigenous women 17 Jackson (2015) suggests that the same prejudices may be true of the Crown in terms of formal charging versus extrajudicial sanctions, given the fact that appropriate community-based Indigenous-specific programming may not be available. But I did not get it, did not understand it, till I sought it out myself…. One thing (that’s important is) knowing who they are, knowing good things about their identity. New and incumbent child protection workers and managers should be required to undergo training on how to collect human rights-based data. 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). CASs should commit to fully implementing the relevant Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)’s Calls to Action. (Barker et al., 2015, pp. More incidents of formal contact diminish the likelihood of diversion. Participants suggested that racism impacted how Indigenous young people see themselves. 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. 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. These structural conditions may influence police decisions to patrol, police, and formally charge (Fitzgerald & Carrington, 2008). 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. CASs should comply with government requirements to collect, tabulate and report human rights-based data. Contact us if you experience any difficulty logging in. This debate has been ongoing since the early 1980s, with seemingly no end in sight. For many Indigenous peoples, the police are inseparable from the broader white culture and white domination in which racism is embedded (Perry, 2009). 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. Jardine, C., Genius, S., Lukasewich, M., & Tang, K. (2016). 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). There are a number of limitations to this study. McGuire (2017) suggests that resilience in an Indigenous context is related to the surviving foundations of Indigenous knowledge(s). The evidence suggested that on-reserve child welfare systems received 38% less funding than elsewhere. 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. • Aboriginal youth in pre-trial detention were detained an average of 29.3 days, compared to 10.8 days for non-Aboriginal youth. The circles intuitively recognized the central (and respected) role that young people once occupied in Indigenous communities. (. 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. Research suggests that Indigenous young people are not only overrepresented in custody, but also in remand custody and probation (Calverley, Cotter & Halla, 2010). They didn’t tell us who to aspire to be. In 2004, the incarceration rate of Indigenous youth was 64.5 per 10,000 population, while the rate of incarceration for non-Indigenous Canadian youth was 8.2 per 10,000 population. As the Elder noted, “Youth—we can deal with youth in ways we’ve always dealt with them.” One circle member suggested that, “One hundred years ago, youth would have been heard by the community. Thus, it is theorized, the interaction of structural inequality, community and cultural breakdown, and systemic discrimination (rooted in the vestiges of colonialism) result in Indigenous overrepresentation in prisons (Grekul & LaBoucane-Benson, 2008). It’s a ripple effect…. The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. These policies outline acceptable research practices and prioritize Indigenous values, traditions, and knowledge (Drawson et al., 2017). The authors would like to thank Chief Kelly LaRocca, Elder Jim Johnson, Jake Charles, Pamela Johnston, Jill Thompson and Angela Nagy for their leadership and wisdom. Create a link to share a read only version of this article with your colleagues and friends. 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). 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. 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). The role of “othering” Indigenous peoples in the context of epistemological and methodological frameworks has only recently received critical attention (Cunneen et al., 2016). Though I was raised on (a) First Nation, I wasn’t raised in the culture. As Wilson (2008) argues, research which attempts to engage with Indigenous methodologies by utilizing talking circles and storytelling must honor “the talk” (p. 99). Teachings were passed from generation to generation through healthy relationships, ceremony, role-modeling, and living on the land. 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. CASs should collect and tabulate human rights-based data, including race-based data, in a standardized way within and across agencies, across services decisions. 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. 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 overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples therefore, is not because of any natural inclination toward crime among Canada’s Indigenous people, but rather because the causes of Aboriginal criminal behavior are rooted in a long history of colonialism, discrimination, and social inequality that has impoverished Aboriginal people and consigned them to the margins of society (Bracken, 2008). This crisis is especially profound in the youth context. By continuing to browse The heritage of Indigenous peoples is not just a collection of objects, stories, and ceremonies, but a complete knowledge system with its own languages, epistemologies, and scientific and logical validity (Battiste, 2014). overrepresentation in context Before colonization, Indigenous communities cared for their children in accordance with their diverse cultural practices and traditions. 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). They do not know what it means to be Anishinaabe. Sentencing decisions are also impacted by the lack of community capacity to address needs for education, employment, housing, and social services (Balfour, 2012). 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. Programming should include young people not just as participants, but as developers and leaders with input of their own. Youth have no voice. 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. 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…. With one exception, all of the individuals that made up the Advisory Committee, and those who lead the talking circle, had grown up on reserve. (p. 334). 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). 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