Indigenous voices needed at justice table

Dear editor,

In a step back in reconciliation efforts, the federal and provincial governments have decided to exclude the voices of urban Indigenous Peoples at their annual justice meeting with National Indigenous leaders. The vast majority of Indigenous people now live in urban and rural areas and face ongoing systemic racism in the justice system.

CAP has reached out to both federal and provincial leaders hoping to share the unique challenges urban Indigenous Peoples face when dealing with the Canadian justice system – to no avail, says CAP National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin. The deeply rooted problems Indigenous People face, whether it be over-incarceration rates, mandatory minimums or police brutality are not confined to reserves, it’s happening in cities across the country. Sadly, governments are playing politics rather than including all Indigenous voices.

According to Canada’s Federal Corrections Investigator, Indigenous Peoples make up 32% of the federal inmate population despite only representing less than 5% of the population. And even more troubling, Indigenous women make up nearly half of all federal inmates. Federal and provincial governments have also excluded the Native Women’s Association of Canada from justice talks. 

A key pillar of reconciliation is inclusion, says CAP National Chief Elmer St. Pierre. If governments are truly committed to change in the justice system, they must invite all Indigenous voices, regardless of where they live, to the table.

The Council of Aboriginal People