…when the justice system can be fallible where Aboriginal people are concerned, it is fallible. It fails at virtually every point in the process.
– Justice Murray Sinclair
Colonialism, as I have been forced to discover, is like a cancer. But instead of the cells in your body betraying itself, the thoughts in your mind work against you and eat you up from the inside out.
The Unravelling of a Colonized Mind
Supporting improved access to justice for Aboriginal women dealing with violence requires working with an awareness of the history and context of Indigenous peoples in Canada. While the Building Service Capacity workshops did not provide cultural competency training, the design of each workshop either included setting the learning in the context of local Indigenous communities or, where the majority of participants were Aboriginal, wove the context through the workshop materials.
Training sessions were tailored to each community and included local presenters setting the Aboriginal context. This section, Understanding the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Context strives to provide overview information on the historical, social and legal context of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women in Canada today through materials distributed in the workshops.
These sections are not a substitute for cultural competency training, which is recommended for all non-Aboriginal service providers. They provide accessible readings that outline Canada’s colonial history and structure, how it underlies the social relations in which violence against First Nation, Métis and Inuit women occurs and sets up barriers to their access to justice.
In 2009, 44% of all girls in youth custody in Canada were Aboriginal. 2/3 of Aboriginal women in prison are single mothers heading families.
Gender Matters: Building Strength through Reconciliation
Canada’s colonial history – and the context for violence against Aboriginal women – is revealed through our legal history, our social relations and the attitudes that historically been taught in our education system.
- The Unravelling of a Colonized Mind – Jana-Rae Yerxa
- The Historical Relationship between the Canadian Justice System and Aboriginal People – Justice Murray Sinclair
- Indian Women in Canada: A Brief History – Sharon Leslie Acoose
Racism and colonialism – including the use of police and the legal system to remove children from families into the child welfare system and residential schools – have created unique barriers to justice for Aboriginal women in Canada.
- Domestic Violence Experienced by Aboriginal Women Context and Considerations – Building Service Capacity: Learning Objectives and Overview
- Key Resources for Aboriginal Women Victims of Violence – Aboriginal Women and Family Violence, Government of Canada, 2008
- Why Abuse is Happening in Inuit Society – Making Our Shelters Strong, Pauktuutit Inuit Women’s Association Handbook
- Analysis of the Foundations of Family Violence: Five Broad Themes – The Aboriginal Approach to Family Violence, Quebec Native Women’s Shelter Network
- Barriers to Justice: Presentation to Building Service Capacity – Special Investigations Unit, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations