Aboriginal Women and the Canadian Justice Sysem

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?It?s one thing to be an Indian, but it?s another to be an Indian woman? (Brunen 2000) INTRODUCTION Aboriginal women in Canada are considered to be the most victimized group within the nation?s society. The effects of this marginalization and victimization can be seen through low numbers of Aboriginal women attending post-secondary institutions, through the high unemployment rate of Aboriginal women and ultimately in the incredibly high percentage of Aboriginal women in the prison system within Canada. The high occurrence of Aboriginal women in prison has been investigated by numerous sources and several of those shall be examined in the following.

DISCUSSION Just as ethnic differences have long been a popular reason for discrimination, so too has gender. Causes of marginalization faced by Aboriginal people in general are multiplied by the issues that are distinct for Aboriginal women (Brunen 2000). Cassidy, Lord, & Mandell, (1995) contend that ?Aboriginal women must deal with discrimination based on gender, class, and race?.

This is unlike women of the dominant white culture who may face gender and class issues, but rarely must challenge racial discrimination (Cassidy et. al 1995).

Statistics show that Aboriginal people and especially Aboriginal women are heavily over-represented in jails and prisons across the country (LaPrairie 1987). For a number of years it has been apparent that ?the Canadian criminal justice system has failed Aboriginal people and, more specifically, Aboriginal women?(Sparling 1999). Should the concept of women?s history within the judicial system be one of disregard and negligence, ?it should come as no surprise that the history of Aboriginal women?s imprisonment is an exaggeration of the same? (Sparling 1999).

Compared to other offenders, Aboriginal women are charged more frequently for certain types of crimes. Statistics show that Aboriginal women are being incarcerated for more violent crimes than are non-Aboriginal women (LaPrairie...