AMONG THE MANY ISSUES CONFRONTING INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IS THEIR OVERREPRESENTATION IN PRISONS across the country, which the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 deemed a crisis and ‘a sad and pressing social problem.’ Statistics Canada reports that 3% of the population in Canada is Indigenous; however, Indigenous people comprise 26% of provincial/territorial correctional services populations and in federal correctional facilities 28% of those incarcerated self-identify as Indigenous.
A range of issues under the umbrella of colonialism contribute to this overrepresentation: racism, poverty, addiction and illness, the intergenerational trauma stemming from the residential school system, and cross-cultural miscommunication and misunderstanding between those working within the colonial legal system and the Indigenous people who move through it. It is this last element that we address in this guide.
(Lorna Fadden, Ph.D., Communicating Effectively with Indigenous Clients)
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We acknowledge that the land on which we work is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.