Aboriginal Jurors

I was browsing the Globe and Mail site for a completely unrelated topic and I found THIS.

It really made me think as to how jurors are selected here. In the article it states, “It’s unclear if the problem exists elsewhere. Although reserves in or around cities are common, different jurisdictions choose juries in slightly different ways.” It could be that not just Aboriginals in rural communities but also non-Aboriginals that are left out of the process.

Since I turned 18, I had to fill out three call-for-jury duty forms. I filled one out at the time I worked at the Ministry of Tourism (When I look back at why they wanted every employee to fill one out is this: no criminal record). I received two in the mail. I am an Aboriginal woman, but at the time I was also out on bail when I received these call-for-jury duty. There was a question on these forms that said: have you ever plead guilty/been convicted of a crime in Canada that a pardon has not been granted for. My answer: NO (This was not a lie because it was the truth. I did not plead guilty and was not about to admit that I was in the process where I had the option to; that is not what the question was asking). My answer was no because my lawyer told me to put NO! I did, however, agree to conditions to keep my record fairly clean if followed (and I did follow).

I agree with the lawyer in the above article. He says, “There’s no real social science evidence to suggest that someone who has been convicted of a particular offence or charged with a particular offence is going to be biased in his or her view.” I think a person’s previous convictions would make them a better candidate. I think they would be more open to understanding situations that led up to the conviction and what might the convicted individual endure while serving a sentence. Loss of pride. Loss of will to live (sometimes). Loss of dignity. I experienced all of those things (even though I was never sentenced or plead guilty). Sometimes, I still struggle with my past and the choices I made. I am learning through the healing process that those choices were not who I really was. The person that I am today, strong, caring, honest, open-minded, loving, is who I really am. Someone told me that because of what I want to accomplish with my life, no degree can provide me with the education/experiences I learned along the way. I have to say I agree.

As for the juror selection process, I can say that as an Aboriginal who received three call for duty forms since I was 18 (I am only 24), I would think or like to hope that potential Aboriginal jurors are not left out here in Ontario. I hope that because Ontario has one of the largest Aboriginal populations of 242,495 (Stats Can). However, like the above article says, I did live near a city in Ontario (and there are many more First Nations in the northern parts of Ontario).

I hope this situation works/worked out for the better. It would be nice to see a change in the jury selection process in Canada if what is happening in Alberta is the same across the country.

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