Canada's New Residential School: Exploring the Impact of Cultural Racism on Federally Imprisoned Aboriginal Women
By comparing the residential school system to the contemporary prison system, this paper examines the issue of cultural racism in regards to issues Aboriginal women face. This paper argues that the treatment Aboriginal women face under the Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) is an extension of the colonial past, bearing similar goals and principles. To support this, the paper examines Section 12 1 (b) of the Indian Act of 1876, and proceeds to provide similarities between residential schools and prisons, connecting it to cultural racism and its impacts today. Data has been collected from several academic journals ranging in the fields of social science, women’s studies, sociology, and criminology, along with a debate and case study. Residential schools promoted ideals of whiteness by viewing children as threats to the white Canadian “norm,” taking away traditional practices, and beating children as an attempt to rid them of their Aboriginal identity. In a similar manner, prisons placed Aboriginal women far away from their families, they were denied visitation rights and cultural programs, and dehumanized in an attempt to make them conform to mainstream white culture. This paper ends with criticism of Harper’s Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, as well as a case study of Ashley Smith, a 19-year-old Aboriginal woman who died under the de-humanizing treatment of CSC. Suggestions for change are discussed, showing that this issue needs to be recognized in order for the prison system to reclaim its true purpose of rehabilitation rather than a system that destroys identity.
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