One of the most significant contributors to this over-representation is systemic poverty. The negative impacts of colonialism have made Indigenous women far more likely to be living in poverty than non-Indigenous Canadians. Because the criminal justice system often criminalizes poverty, it also criminalizes Indigenous women and girls.
At the same time, the justice system also fails to protect them when they are victims. Low conviction rates for perpetrators of violence and a reluctance to condemn, investigate, and punish are unjust and perpetuate the idea that Indigenous women are not deserving of respect. As a result, many Indigenous women and girls refrain from reporting abuse or criminal activity, leading to higher victimization rates. This creates a cycle of violence and vulnerability.
To address the issues within the justice system, we need to pay attention to the core social structures that criminalize Indigenous women and girls before even entering the justice system. We must consider incorporating both traditional Indigenous concepts of justice and restorative justice. Weaving Indigenous and Western systems together can create a more just world for all.
The truth can be hard to see.
Positive relationships and allyship between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Peoples can exist. The first step to building these relationships is for Canadians to learn about the colonial past and how it influences our society, and help get the message out. Once you have read the reports, we encourage you to share this information with your networks by connecting them to this page.