Published date10 October 2007
Date10 October 2007
AuthorJames P. Mulvale
James P. Mulvale
Aboriginal peoples living in what is now known as the province of
Saskatchewan, Canada, have experienced great troubles and systematic
injustices in their dealings with the white man since his arrival in their
territory over three centuries ago. In this chapter, I will outline the effects of
racism, internal colonialism, and cultural genocide as manifested in the
interactions of Saskatchewan’s Aboriginal peoples with the contemporary
criminal justice system. I will also examine proposals for changes in the
criminal justice system, and more broadly in the relationship between
Aboriginal peoples and political institutions and social formations in
Canada. Specifically, I will examine how the reports and recommendations
of three landmark public commissions of inquiry into Aboriginal peoples
and the criminal justice system have shaped and advocated these proposals
for change. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples worked at the
national level and carried out a very comprehensive examination of the
social, legal, constitutional, and institutional relationships between
Crime and Human Rights
Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Volume 9, 215–238
Copyright r2007 by Elsevier Ltd.
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved
ISSN: 1521-6136/doi:10.1016/S1521-6136(07)09009-4
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada, delivering its Final
Report in 1996. The Commission of First Nations and Me
´tis Peoples and
Justice Reform in Saskatchewan examined the comprehensive workings of
criminal justice system and related systems in this province, and delivered its
Final Report in June 2004. The Inquiry into the Death of Neil Stonechild,
under the direction of Justice D. H. Wright, investigated a case of police
racism and violence towards Aboriginal people in the city of Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan, and reported to the provincial government in September
The analysis and recommendations of these three commissions speak to
the need to reform, and perhaps even fundamentally reconstruct, criminal
justice processes as they affect First Nations and Me
´tis peoples. Many of the
changes proposed by these commissions have the potential to correct
historical injustices towards Aboriginal peoples as they have been
manifested in the criminal justice system. The commissions’ blueprints also
have the potential to put into practice innovative aspects of human rights
that are consonant with Aboriginal cultures, and that could lower the
incidence and harms of criminal behaviour committed by and against
Aboriginal peoples.
The term ‘‘Aboriginal peoples’’ is used here as inclusive of both First
Nations and Me
´tis people. The term ‘‘First Nations’’ refers to communities
of indigenous people that share a common language, history, and set of
religious beliefs and cultural practices, that function collectively in some
form of cohesive social organization, and that are located within a definable
geographic territory. First Nations in Canada generally have signed Treaties
with the British Crown (now acting through the federal government in
Ottawa). The First Nations of Saskatchewan are Cree, Saulteaux,
Assiniboine and Dene people who adhere to numbered Treaties Four,
Five, Six, Eight and Ten (www.otc.ca). They are organized into over 70
bands or reservations across the province, and also act politically in larger
units called Tribal Councils. Me
´tis people can be defined is this way:
Aboriginal people of mixed First Nation and European ancestry who identify themselves
as Me
´tis people, as distinct from First Nations people, Inuit or non-Aboriginal people.
The Me
´tis have a unique culture that draws on their diverse ancestral origins, such as
Scottish, French, Ojibway and Cree. (www.fnmr.gov.sk.ca/glossary.htm)
´tis peoples have the opportunity to act politically through the Me
Nation – Saskatchewan. They are not signatories to Treaties with the
Crown, and do not have a reserved land base. However Me
´tis people in
Saskatchewan do operate or partner in a wide range of organizations that

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