It's hard to reconcile the injustices faced by Indigenous communities in the past when the effects of that trauma are still being felt so acutely, writes Melissa Mbarki in the National Post. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here

By Melissa Mbarki, October 1, 2021

Today has been designated as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, but it’s hard to reconcile the injustices faced by Indigenous communities in the past when the effects of that trauma are still being felt so acutely.

Today has been designated as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, but it’s hard to reconcile the injustices faced by Indigenous communities in the past when the effects of that trauma are still being felt so acutely.

These are inter-related, as we transitioned our children out of residential schools and into federal and provincial institutions, such as prisons and foster homes. There was no transition or support services in place for children going from residential schools back to their homes. Not only did children face abrupt life changes, they were also coping with the abuses and neglect they endured at the schools.

As a result of these traumas, Indigenous people now account for more than 30 per cent of inmates in Canadian prisons. The numbers are even higher on the Prairies — Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta — where Indigenous-Canadians make up 54 per cent of the prison population. This is alarming given that Indigenous people make up just five per cent of the country’s population.

Factors contributing to high incarceration rates include poverty and systemic inequities. Indigenous offenders are more likely to be sentenced to maximum terms. They are also more likely to be placed in maximum-security facilities and to serve more of their sentences before they are granted parole.

Female Indigenous prisoners currently represent 42 per cent of the inmates in Canadian prisons. They face some of the harshest parole conditions, which makes it more challenging for them to return to their lives on the outside. And even when they are released, they often end up on reserves with limited social services and mental health supports, which is why we see so many repeat offenders.

***TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE, VISIT THE NATIONAL POST HERE***

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