Colonialism and the Failure of Retribution in the Canadian Justice System: How to Support Indigenous Offenders


  • Gloria Park


Indigenous rights, Canadian Justice System, solitary confinement, reintegration, retribution, restorative justice, residential school legacy, colonialism, systemic racism


I am proposing intersectional policy solutions that favour a restorative justice approach over the retributive approach that currently exists in the Canadian justice system to ensure that Indigenous inmates’ needs are adequately met. I introduce recommendations for the Canadian penitentiary system to address significant cases of mistreatment against Indigenous inmates; declining physical and mental health rates; and overall losses of cultural identity that Indigenous inmates experience. My objectives address: the exploitation of solitary confinement in prisons; the disproportionate lack of support available to Indigenous offenders compared to non-Indigenous offenders; and the cycle of colonialism that Indigenous prisoners experience from ineffective criminal justice policies. The goal of these suggestions is to combat the intergenerational trauma from residential schools and other vestiges of colonialism that continues in Canadian prisons. Secondary data were analyzed through two research strategies: 1) qualitative analyses of academic journals, Canadian laws, comparable cases from New Zealand’s prison system, and previous cases of mistreatment and Indigenous inmates’ deaths; and 2) quantitative analyses on statistics of Indigenous inmates in Canada. The findings support promoting reintegration with Indigenous communities and implementing mental health, educational, and cultural workshops to lower mental health concerns like suicide and the possibility of recidivism. Thus, the proposed policy solutions challenge the use of retribution and encourage rehabilitation to improve Indigenous offenders’ mental and physical health, educational background, and cultural identity.




How to Cite

Park, G. (2021). Colonialism and the Failure of Retribution in the Canadian Justice System: How to Support Indigenous Offenders. Revue YOUR Review (York Online Undergraduate Research), 8. Retrieved from