Monday, December 28, 2009

Unchanging Dark

In 1967, when I first began working with Native Indian ex-convicts, the recidivism rate for aboriginals in Canada was 97%.


That is not a typo.

Of every 100 male Aboriginal inmates released from a prison in Canada at that time, 97 could be assured of a return trip.

And soon.

Inmates and guards alike used to joke with someone being set free, "We'll keep your bunk warm for you, Buddy."

How much have things improved over the years?

Not much.

Here's the front page of this morning's Globe:

"Courts falling short on effort to keep natives out of jail

Ten years after landmark ruling, prison numbers tell a dismal story

Statistics tell a dismal story. Aboriginals amount to fewer than 4 per cent of the Canadian population, yet accounted for 24 per cent of those admitted to provincial or federal custody in 2006-2007 – up from 21 per cent the previous year. In Ontario, twice as many aboriginal youth are being jailed as non-aboriginal youth who commit the same offence."

Everyone is to blame.

Aboriginal communities and people themselves.

Courts, police, parole, probation, me and you.

We won't spend the necessary money on good rehab programs, substance abuse treatment, early childhood ed, you name it.

And native peoples are not demanding enough of themselves and their children.

Success, pride and hard work are the interlocking circle that makes for better lives.

Not easily come by, of course.

But they are always there, waiting for the willing.

Until then, we live with a national disgrace.

One that has persisted for over 40 years.

How much longer?


Jeff Taylor said...

As I read your blog, I can't help but think to myself that for all of my 44 years, this issue has been in the news, on the radio, on the TV, written in books, spoken about at schools, the subject of numerous documentary films, etc, etc, etc. Your line in the blog "and Native peoples are not demanding enough of themselves and their children" is very true. There has to be a time in one's life when you realize that enough is enough and a decision is made to make changes in one's life - no matter what or who stands in their way.

Anonymous said...

Do you think thay if the aboriginal population were giben NO SPECIAL status that this probelm might not exist. At the very least the native population would not have the government and the reseve system to prop them up. The system is designed to cope with failure. Scrap the system and make all Canadians equal. win or lose everyone treated the same.