March 8th, 2013
Howard Saper, the Correctional Investigator tabled a report (7 March 2013) with the Canadian Parliament. The report, entitled Spirit Matters: Aboriginal People and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, examines the implementation of Sections 81 and 84 provisions of the CCRA. Section 81 allows the Minister of Public Safety to enter into agreements to transfer care and custody of an Aboriginal offender who would otherwise be held in a federal penitentiary to an Aboriginal community facility. Section 84 provides for Aboriginal communities to be involved in the release of an Aboriginal offender returning to their community. Nothing in the report is new except that the tough on crime approach may not be working. I see the report as indicating that we are creating the potential of a tsunami of under privileged young people (Aboriginal) who will eventually be sent to Canadian prisons. We should remember that this is the youngest population in Canada. Perhaps it is time to consider more traditional models of being more intelligent on crime. While no one likes criminals, eventually a criminal has the right to live in society. It should be the task of Corrections Canada to ensure that people when they leave prison have the skills to make a life for themselves on the outside. Too many people learn bad things in prison and it becomes a way of life. Many young men in the Aboriginal community feel that they are destined for the Criminal courts. How can we prevent young people from becoming involved in the system. We are seeing that too many institutional systems are failing too many of our fellow citizens. The education system is not meeting the needs of children and in the case of Aboriginal peoples they have schools which are under funded by 30-40%. The Child and Family services are also failing our youngest citizens. When we see the cases like Phoenix Sinclairs’ which are in my mind the tip of the iceberg, we must be concerned. Children have a destiny in life and positive destiny, but we are the adult can affect that destiny and reduce the potential for the success of all out children.