The Crisis of Aboriginal Women Entangled in the Criminal Law

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Recorded on October 31, 2012 (72 minutes) - This webinar in the Family Law Education for Women (FLEW) series looks at the high and increasing rate of Aboriginal women in prison, some root causes, and best practices for supporting Aboriginal women involved in the criminal law process. Hosted by Tamar Witelson, Legal Director, METRAC, joined by Christa Big Canoe, Legal Advocacy Director, Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto.
Watch this webinar at:
http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/webinar/crisis-aboriginal-women-entangled-criminal-law

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The Crisis of Aboriginal Women Entangled in the Criminal Law

  1. 1. The Crisis of Aboriginal Women Entangled in the Criminal Law October 31 2012October 31, 2012 Tamar Witelson, Legal Director, METRAC Christa Big Canoe, Legal Advocacy Director, Aboriginal Legal Services of f il l y Toronto Funded by: Funded by: www.onefamilylaw.ca 31/10/2012 1
  2. 2. METRAC METRAC, the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children  works to end violence against women, youth and children t f fit it b d i ti a not-for-profit, community-based organization www.metrac.org METRAC’s Community Justice Programy g  provides accessible legal information and education for women and service providers  focuses on law that affects women, from diverse backgrounds, especially those experiencing violence or abusep y p g FLEW, Family Law Education for Women in Ontario  provides information on women’s rights and options under Ontario provides information on womens rights and options under Ontario family law  in 14 languages, accessible formats, online and in print www.onefamilylaw.ca h d d f llhttp://undroitdefamille.ca/ 31/10/2012 2
  3. 3. Presenters Tamar Witelson l Di R C Christa Big Canoe l d D b l lLegal Director, METRAC Legal Advocacy Director, Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto 31/10/2012 3
  4. 4. Topics to be Covered 1. Current Picture – Aboriginal People in the Criminal Law System 2. Root Causes a. Colonial History b. Residential School System c. Lasting Effects d. Additional Marginalization of Aboriginal Women 3. Working with Aboriginal Women in the Criminal Law S tSystem 4. Gladue Principles 5. Additional Resources Accurate as of the date of this webinar presentation: October 31, 2012 31/10/2012 4
  5. 5. C PiCurrent Picture 31/10/2012 5
  6. 6. Current Picture Aboriginal People in the Criminal Law System  “Aboriginal”includes First Nation, Inuit, and Metis peoples  Aboriginal people are: –23% of the people accused of homicide –10 times more likely to be accused of homicide than non-Aboriginal people –4% of Canadian adults AND • 20% of all adults in jail • 19% of people given a conditional sentence 16% of people on probation• 16% of people on probation  74% of Aboriginal people in prison did not have a high school education – compared to 33% of non-Aboriginal inmates  The proportion of Aboriginal people in custody is increasing The proportion of Aboriginal people in custody is increasing Juristat Vol. 26, no. 3 (June 6, 2006) 31/10/2012 6
  7. 7. Current Picture Aboriginal People in the Criminal Law System  1 in 3 women in federal prison is Aboriginal  average age of Aboriginal woman inmate is 34 years – five years younger than the average age of non- Aboriginal women inmatesAboriginal women inmates  Aboriginal women are the fastest growing offender populationpopulation Juristat Vol. 26, no. 3 (June 6, 2006) 31/10/2012 7
  8. 8. R CRoot Causes 31/10/2012 8
  9. 9. Root Causes 1. Colonial History  First European settlementFirst European settlement  Europeans asserted political control over Aboriginal nations, lands and peoplep p  Aboriginal people were relocated to reserves Di ti f l d d id tit Disconnection from lands and identity  Indian Act designated certain people as “Indians”  European policy to “civilize”, assimilate and eradicate Aboriginal identity 31/10/2012 9
  10. 10. Root Causes 1. Colonial History “I want to get rid of the Indian problem. Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed The are aCanada that has not been absorbed. They are a weird and waning race…ready to break out at any moment in savage dances; in wild and desperate orgies.” - Duncan Campbell Scott, 1920p Deputy Superintendent Department of Indian Affairs Government of CanadaGovernment of Canada 31/10/2012 10
  11. 11. Root Causes 2. Residential School System  Started by churches, taken over by Canadian government  Operated for more than 100 years  Last school closed in mid-1990s  Children taken from communities by threat or force Children taken from communities by threat or force  Children forced to give up language, culture, tradition  Children suffered physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse 31/10/2012 11
  12. 12. Root Causes 3. Lasting Effects  Loss of identity  Loss of parenting skills  Low educationLow education  High unemployment  Alcohol/drug/substance abuse  Violence  High rate of child protection intervention  High suicide rateg su c de ate  Over representation in criminal justice system 31/10/2012 12
  13. 13. Root Causes 4. Additional Marginalization of Women  Loss of traditional roles in community  Loss of Indian status for inter-marriage  Domestic violenceDomestic violence  Women forced to relocate to cities  Urban barriers to employment and housing  Racial and sex discrimination  “squaw” stereotype  Human traffickingu a t a c g  Prostitution 31/10/2012 13
  14. 14. W ki i h Ab i i l WWorking with Aboriginal Women in the Criminal Law Systemy 31/10/2012 14
  15. 15. Working with Aboriginal Women in the C i i l L S tCriminal Law System Be sensitive to context:Be sensitive to context:  Colonialization  Residential Schools  Oppressive laws and policies  Marginalization  High rates of violence  Combined racism and sexism 31/10/2012 15
  16. 16. Working with Aboriginal Women in the C i i l L S tCriminal Law System Scenario 1:Scenario 1: Julie is a 22-year-old Metis woman who has been charged with assault At herhas been charged with assault. At her bail hearing, bail was denied and she will be held in jail until her hearingbe held in jail until her hearing. How can you help her? 31/10/2012 16
  17. 17. Working with Aboriginal Women in the C i i l L S tCriminal Law System Best practices:  Ask prompting questions  Get the narrative Get the narrative  Don’t make assumptionsDon t make assumptions  Explain the reason for your questionsp y q  Take time to build trust 31/10/2012 17
  18. 18. Working with Aboriginal Women in the C i i l L S tCriminal Law System Best practices: f f Remember that community is often very significant to Aboriginal people  Understand criminal issues affect other life issues A k b t ’ Ab i i l it Ask about a person’s Aboriginal community  Learn some background about the communityLearn some background about the community  Research what resources exist in or near a person’s itcommunity 31/10/2012 18
  19. 19. Working with Aboriginal Women in the C i i l L S tCriminal Law System Scenario 2:Scenario 2: Nicole is a First Nation woman, convicted of break and enter She has received aof break and enter. She has received a conditional sentence, ordering her to do 240 hours of community service and to240 hours of community service and to attend alcohol and drug addiction therapy. How can you help? 31/10/2012 19
  20. 20. Working with Aboriginal Women in the C i i l L S tCriminal Law System Best practices:Best practices:  Ask about Nicole’s community  Talk about historic and current issues of harm  Ask about her responsibilities in addition to the court order  Inquire whether there are services/supports in her communityy 31/10/2012 20
  21. 21. Presenters Tamar Witelson l Di R C Christa Big Canoe l d D b l lLegal Director, METRAC Legal Advocacy Director, Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto 31/10/2012 21
  22. 22. Gl d P i i lGladue Principles 31/10/2012 22
  23. 23. Gladue Principles Criminal Code s. 718.2(e) A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration… all il bl ti th th i i t th t bl i thavailable sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances … for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders. R. v. Gladue, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 688 Section 718.2(e) directs judges to undertake the sentencing of such ff d i di id ll b t l diff tl b th i t foffenders individually, but also differently, because the circumstances of aboriginal people are unique. R I l 2012 SCC 13R. v. Ipeelee, 2012 SCC 13 Sentencing judges, as front-line workers in the criminal justice system, are in the best position... to ensure that they are not contributing to ongoing systemic racial discriminationsystemic racial discrimination. 31/10/2012 23
  24. 24. Gladue Principles  Applies to all Aboriginal backgrounds, on/off reserve, rural/urban  Every time an Aboriginal person before the court might end up inEvery time an Aboriginal person before the court might end up in custody – Bail – ParoleParole – Non-criminal matters like fitness hearings; or civil contempt  Gladue Reports (written or verbal) – Legacy of dislocation – Low income – Unemployment – Low education – Lack of opportunities – Substance use – Systemic/direct discrimination 31/10/2012 24
  25. 25. Gladue Principles Gladue (Aboriginal Persons) Court  Pilot project in the Toronto area  Available to all Aboriginal persons  Voluntary Voluntary  Court has expertise in services available for AboriginalCourt has expertise in services available for Aboriginal persons in Toronto 31/10/2012 25
  26. 26. Presenters Tamar Witelson l Di R C Christa Big Canoe l d D b l lLegal Director, METRAC Legal Advocacy Director, Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto 31/10/2012 26
  27. 27. Addi i l RAdditional Resources 31/10/2012 27
  28. 28. Additional Resources Aboriginal Legal Services Toronto (ALST) • www.aboriginallegal.ca/ 416 408 3967 416 408 4041• Toronto: 416-408-3967 or 416-408-4041 “Are you Aboriginal?”: Information about criminalAre you Aboriginal? : Information about criminal law issues for Aboriginal Persons • www.cleo.on.ca/en/publications/gladue Resources for Aboriginal persons about rights in criminal law • yourlegalrights.on.ca/criminal-law/aboriginal-rights-in-criminal- law 2831/10/2012
  29. 29. Additional Resources Aboriginal Community Resources OntarioOntario • http://chiefs-of-ontario.org/ • http://www.aiai.on.ca/ • http://www.anishinabek.ca/ • http://www.gct3.net/ • http://www.nan.on.ca/ • http://www.ofifc.org/ofifchome/page/index.htm htt // tb /• http://www.onwa-tbay.ca/ National Organizations http // afn ca/article asp?id=3• http://www.afn.ca/article.asp?id=3 • http://www.nwac-hq.org/en/index.html • http://www.ccab.com/ 2931/10/2012
  30. 30. Additional Resources (General) Find a community legal clinic near youFind a community legal clinic near you • www.legalaid.on.ca/en/contact/contact.asp?type=cl Ontario Women’s Justice Network (OWJN) • www.owjn.org Ontario Justice Education Network • www.ojen.ca 3031/10/2012
  31. 31. Additional Resources (General) Law Society of Upper Canada Lawyer Referral Service www.lsuc.on.ca/with.aspx?id=697 • Toll-free: 1-800-268-8326Toll free: 1 800 268 8326 • Toronto: 416-947-3330 • TTY: 416-644-4886 T lkit f d Cli t L R l ti hiToolkit for a good Client-Lawyer Relationship schliferclinic.com/vars/legal/pblo/toolkit.htm • Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic Ministry of the Attorney General www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/ • Toll free: 1-800-518-7901 • TTY: 1-877-425-0575 211 Canada.ca 211canada.ca/ 3131/10/2012
  32. 32. Additional Resources (General) Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral Services (VICARS) • Immediate, on-site service to victims of crime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week • Toll-free: 1-888-579-2888 • Toronto: 416-314-2447 Victim Support Line (VSL) • province-wide multilingual toll-free information line providing a range ofprovince wide, multilingual, toll free information line providing a range of services to victims of crime • Services available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week in 13 languages • Toll-free: 1-888-579-2888 • Toronto: 416-314-2447Toronto: 416 314 2447 Court Prep www.courtprep.ca • provides information on the Canadian legal system and prepares victims and• provides information on the Canadian legal system and prepares victims and witnesses to give evidence 3231/10/2012
  33. 33. Additional Resources (Family) Assaulted Women’s Helpline www.awhl.org • Toll free: 1 866 863 0511; TTY: 1 866 863 7868• Toll-free: 1-866-863-0511; TTY: 1-866-863-7868 • Toronto: 416-863-0511 Legal Aid Ontario www.legalaid.on.ca/en/getting/default.asp • Toll-free: 1-800-668-8258; TTY: 1-866-641-8867 • Toronto: 416-979-1446 (accepts collect calls) Family Law Information Program (FLIP) www.legalaid.on.ca/en/getting/flip.asp Family Law Information Centres (FLICs)Family Law Information Centres (FLICs) www.legalaid.on.ca/en/getting/type_family.asp Family Law Services Centres (FLSCs) www legalaid on ca/en/contact/contact asp?type=flscwww.legalaid.on.ca/en/contact/contact.asp?type=flsc 3331/10/2012
  34. 34. Additional Resources (Family) FLEW (Family Law Education for Women) • www.onefamilylaw.ca/en/resources/www.onefamilylaw.ca/en/resources/ FODF (Femmes Ontariennes et Droit de la Famille)Famille) • http://undroitdefamille.ca/ Resources for Aboriginal persons about rights in criminal law • yourlegalrights.on.ca/family-law/aboriginal-rights-in-family-law 3431/10/2012

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