Criminal Injustice: Idle No More, The Prison System And Indigenous People In Canada
By Matt Moir
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
Idle No More is forcing many Canadians to be Willfully Blind No More.
Ostensibly, the movement spearheaded by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is about the protection of First Nations' treaty rights. At its core, though, might be something more profound, perhaps best described as a demand for all of us in this country to re-think the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. The relationship is, of course, an uneven one, though it might be far more uneven than most of us in this country care to acknowledge.
Against this backdrop, policy makers and average Canadians alike would be well advised to ring in the New Year by considering the lessons Michelle Alexander highlights in her important book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindedness. The context is American, but the lessons may hit closer to home. In the book, Alexander writes the following in regards to African-Americans and the United States' criminal justice system:
"It is fair to say that we have witnessed an evolution in the United States from a racial caste system based entirely on exploitation (slavery), to one based largely on subordination (Jim Crow), to one defined by marginalization (mass incarceration). While marginalization may sound far preferable to exploitation, it may prove to be even more dangerous. Extreme marginalization, as we have seen throughout world history, poses the risk of extermination."