Guilty by Design: A Critical Race Analysis of the Over-Incarceration of Indigenous Peoples in an Era of Reconciliation

  • Author / Creator
    Gurski, Karlie J
  • In the decade since the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) went into effect, governments have been promoting, discussing and celebrating the idea of reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the state. However, in many policy arenas, governments are continuing practices that reinforce the colonial relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state, casting doubt on the potential of the current reconciliation framework in transforming that relationship. This is particularly evident in the criminal justice system, where an Indigenous person living in Canada is ten times more likely to be incarcerated in a federal penitentiary than a non-Indigenous person. This disproportionate rate of incarceration is dramatically higher in some provinces and has been climbing steadily over the last few decades. This thesis argues that the over-incarceration of Indigenous peoples is a continuation of the racialized state violence experienced by Indigenous peoples through ongoing colonialism and is thus a measure of how much work remains if reconciliation is to mean the restructuring of the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state. Critical race theory (CRT), highlights the role that race and racism play in relationships of power, and challenges settler societies to examine the parts of their world that depend on the continued oppression and colonization of Indigenous peoples. Without large scale, Indigenous-led changes to legal, economic, social and political structures, present-day reconciliation efforts may be of little benefit to the individuals and groups who have been and continue to be adversely impacted by colonial power structures.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.