Discuss the treatment of aboriginal people by the Canadian justice system. What would be a good thesis statement for this topic?  

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A research topic on the treatment of indigenous or aboriginal peoples by the Canadian justice system requires some knowledge of Canadian history with respect to native tribes. While the treatment of aboriginal tribes by British and French settlers and governments may not have been as bleak as occurred in the United States, it was still bad, and it certainly involved the removal of indigenous peoples from their native lands and racist policies for many decades after that deliberately sought to deprive native tribes of their heritage. When considering the experiences of aboriginal peoples in Canada's justice system, it is, consequently, important to take into account the fact that native tribes were independent nations with their own beliefs, traditions, and policies for dealing with intra-tribal conflicts or disputes. A 2001 report by the Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission titled The Justice System and Aboriginal People noted the following with respect to native tribes and their perception of Canada's justice system:

"For Aboriginal people, the essential problem is that the Canadian system of justice is an imposed and foreign system. In order for a society to accept a justice system as part of its life and its community, it must see the system and experience it as being a positive influence working for that society. Aboriginal people do not."

This statement is telling: Native tribes, as noted, are, or are supposed to be, per treaties, independent, sovereign entities. In practice, they are not--at least when assimilated into "mainstream" Canadian or American society. Histories of subordination into foreign cultures and political and justice systems have left deep emotional and cultural scars that are not healing, and this is reflected in aboriginal perceptions of the criminal and civil justice systems into which they are regularly thrust. As the table included in the Maclean's article indicates, native peoples fare far worse in the Canadian justice system than African Americans do in the U.S. justice system. The justice system, it is alleged, fails to take into account the unique mitigating circumstances that have resulted in a disproportionate percentage of the native population entering the justice system.

When considering a thesis statement for the issue of indigenous peoples and their treatment in the Canadian justice system, then, consideration must be made of the history of these peoples with respect to European colonization hundreds of years ago. That history is relevant today, as government policies practiced by Canada were highly prejudicial toward indigenous tribes, including forcibly removing native children from their homes and placing them in schools designed to eliminate any semblance of native culture and heritage. Deprived of their language and traditions and immersed in poverty, aboriginal peoples have suffered from higher rates of stress-related ailments and, as emphasized, more incidences of encounters with the criminal justice system. A thesis statement could be along the lines of "Canada's history of repression with respect to aboriginal tribes has caused disproportionate rates of crime among those tribes."




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