Media advisory & News release - Report unveils impacts of residential school linked trauma on Aboriginal women and girls in custody, and calls for a shift from punitive to more transformative and holistic community-based interventions
OTTAWA, May 29, 2012 /CNW/ - A report documenting the impacts of inter-generational residential school linked trauma on criminalized Aboriginal women and girls, will be launched May 30th by the Native Women's Association of Canada and Justice for Girls, with the participation of Reverend Andrew Johnston, of Kairos Ecumenical Social Justice Initiatives. The report presents outcomes from cross-country dialogues which involved over 300 participants, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit women and girls who had been in custody, along with justice sector and community workers. The Arrest the Legacy: from Residential Schools to Prisons dialogues were held as part of an NWAC project funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).
|What:||Media launch of the report||What:||
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m
1 Nicholas Street
Public Service Alliance of Canada building
233 Gilmour Street
"This report reinforces our concerns that Aboriginal women are over- represented in the prison system for reasons of poverty, violence, and multi-generational abuse due to residential school impacts, and mental health issues. And our women face further discrimination and rights violations once inside" says Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, President of the Native Women's Association of Canada.
NWAC's 'Gender Matters; building strength in reconciliation' report notes that the criminal justice system in Canada is tied to colonization and the lens through which First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls are sentenced and criminalized remains tainted by historically unjust relationships. Some of the first women prisoners in Kingston Penitentiary were Aboriginal women resisting the forced Sterilization Act.
"Today many of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and young girls in custody had family members who went to residential school, and yet the criminal law system is failing to address the context of inequality and collective colonial legacies in which Aboriginal women/girls conflicts with the law take place" says Fiona Meyer Cook, Research and Policy analyst, and the project lead, for the Native Women's Association of Canada.
The report notes with alarm that 44% of girls in youth custody across the country are Aboriginal. Asia Czapska Justice for Girls Board Member states "the over-representation of Aboriginal girls in Canadian youth prisons is staggering and a serious breach of Aboriginal girls' human rights".
The report calls for the recognition of the principles of self-determination and the restoration of Aboriginal decision making in matters such as justice, noting that gender-based Aboriginal diversion programs can contribute in an important way to an inclusive vision of healing, justice, increased public safety and reconciliation over the long term in Canada.
The report identifies a number of recommendations to improve conditions for criminalized Aboriginal women and girls, their families and communities, including:
- Increased support for alternatives to incarceration including Aboriginal and community problem solving courts, and gender specific diversion programs for Aboriginal women and girls.
- Increased support for community led healing and cultural revitalization programs.
- Development of a range of early prevention programs for First Nations, Inuit and Métis girls at risk of, or in conflict with the law, including measures to prevent Aboriginal women and girls with trauma based addictions and developmental disabilities from entering the corrections system.
- Implementation of internationally recognized human rights standards in the application of policing and criminal law; protection from violence, exercising cultural rights and improving economic and social conditions.
- Sustained wrap around services and supportive housing for Aboriginal women and girls who are homeless and those exiting custody.
- Widespread education of all Canadians about the truth of the residential schools' impacts on First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, with mandatory capacity building for those working within policing, the criminal law and child welfare systems.
"We encourage all levels of government to consider these important recommendations for improvements and forge new pathways to reconciliation. NWAC is prepared to work with the Department of Justice, Status of Women and other key provincial, federal or territorial departments to help bring about these changes" says Barb Morin , President of the B.C. Native Women's Association. (Kamloops)
The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women. NWAC is an aggregate of thirteen Native women's organizations from across Canada and was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1974.For further information:
For more information on the report, please contact:
Jeannette Corbiere Lavell
President, Native Women's Association of Canada
613-877-2343 / 1-800-461-4043
Fiona Meyer Cook, Research & Policy Analyst, Native Women's Association of Canada
613-722-3033 ext 228 / 1-800-461-4043
Justice for Girls : Annabel Webb, co-founder/Asia Czapska, Board Member
604- 689 -7887