Well today I read an opinion piece on Harper’s lack of acknowledgement of the incarceration rates of Aboriginals. My last post titled, Criminal Pardons , I wrote about the new fees of proposed pardon fees. In an earlier post titled, Crime rates and Minimum Sentences, about the new “Truth in Sentencing Act” that would remove minimum sentences which could lead to increased numbers of individuals already in jail–like Aboriginals.
Reading opinion pieces like these that question the intentions or agenda of Harper make the work that I want to do mean that much more to me. I am presently studying criminology at The University of Western Ontario. People always ask me “So when you are finished you want to become a lawyer or a cop?” I almost always answer “I don’t know.” And it’s not that I don’t know what I want to do because I know exactly what it is that I want to do: I want to work with Aboriginal women who enter the justice system whether it be they are an offender to or a victim of (or both). Specifically, I want to be able to help policing or social service agencies to be able to better handle situations involving Aboriginal people. I just know that I don’t want to be a lawyer or a cop.
I had some very direct experiences with the both agencies: policing and social service agencies. When I was back home, I had lived in a women’s shelter for 3 months (that maximum time allowed for someone like my situation at the time). At the same time this occurred, I had come into contact with the local police force.
There were 2 Aboriginal court workers that were able to assist me. They also happened to be sisters and they also happened to know or have similar experiences. It saddened me when I think back to these experiences that I wasn’t able to see more help for Aboriginal people or services available for Aboriginal people who came into contact with the justice system. I had a lot of questions all the time and most of the time I didn’t even know what was going. This was almost 10 years ago.
Today, I plan to help my people and organizations who come into contact with Aboriginal people in those settings. I want them to be able to better understand why certain things happen. I want to be a voice for people, like Aboriginal women, who may feel like they don’t have a voice at certain times in their life. Especially if they become involved in the justice system. And given that the rates of incarcerated Aboriginal women are 1 in 3 in a federally run institution according to the opinion article titled The National Shame of Aboriginal Incarceration I think I am taking a positive step forward.