TORONTO, October 24, 2006 - The 2005-2006 Annual Report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator is a wake-up call to the Federal Government and the rest of Canada on the situation facing Aboriginal offenders in the correction system, says Dr. Ayman Al-Yassini, Executive Director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF).
The report which points to a number of indicators of systemic discrimination within Correctional Service Canada paints a sobering picture of the disproportionate representation and discriminatory experiences face by Aboriginals at various levels of the federal corrections system. In his report, Mr. Howard Sapers, the Correctional Investigator of Canada, notes that "The Correctional Services own statistics confirm that the situation of Aboriginal offenders is deteriorating in many areas that the Correctional Service could positively influence."
"The Ombudsman's report should be seen as a call to action by the Federal Government to take concrete steps, with measurable outcomes, to address systemic discrimination, including the practices and policies within the Correctional Service, particularly as they apply to Aboriginal peoples" said Al-Yassini. "We would also go further to recommend that any action to correct and address these issues must take into consideration the situation of racialized offenders."
The systemic issues cited in the report and their disparate impact on Aboriginal offenders adds to the numerous reports that have made similar finding of systemic discrimination against Aboriginal offenders and other groups, such as racialized offenders, in the justice system.
Al-Yassini adds, "It underscores, yet again, the systematic injustice that Aboriginal peoples face in many sectors of Canadian society. The CRRF urges the federal government not to minimize the importance of the report. We would urge the Minister of Public Safety to not allow this to be another missed opportunity to address the 'chronic concerns' and 'systemic issues' that have undermined the effectiveness of the correctional systems."
The CRRF believes that institutional and systemic discrimination and racism is at the core of the continued marginalization and exclusion of peoples who have been historically disadvantaged. The need for responsive and effective institutional mechanisms, effective dispute resolution steps that incorporate race-analyses in the framework, and stricter monitoring procedures at all levels within the corrections system, are some of the measures that need to be implemented.