The Links Between Aboriginal and Youth Justice in Canada

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Aboriginal is a term that refers to the native individuals of the North America and descendants. The Canadian constitution identifies three groups of Aboriginal individuals. They include the Indians, Inuit band, and Metis (Kirmayer, Simpson, & Cargo, 2003). The three groups compose of individuals with distinct histories, cultural practices, languages and spiritual beliefs. In Canada, Aboriginal youths that are aged between 15 to 24 years represent 18.2 percent of the total Aboriginal population and overall 5.9 percent of all the youths in Canada (Retnakaran, et al., 2014).

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The historical events that transpired during the colonialism cannot be overstated given the impact they still have on the lives of aboriginal today (Kirmayer, Simpson, & Cargo, 2003). Various policies such as forced assimilation suppressed and assaulted the native culture for as long as the existence of Canada as a nation emerged. The introduction of reservation areas in the 19th century together with residential schools experience in the 20th century and mandatory adoption of policies in the 1960s and 1970s are some of the heinous acts that were per perpetrated by the government of Canada to Aboriginal communities.

Consequently, the results of these policies included the eradication of cultural practices, erosion of traditional values, loss language, and disintegration of the original family structures. The acts have passed down through years like colonial inheritances. The overall impact on the group was intergenerational trauma that has left people that once treasured and respected their culture and traditions nearly smothered from decades of persecution and shame.

In the reserves, Aboriginal communities usually face a lot of challenges ranging from the high poverty levels and lack of unemployment together with the insufficient level of education. There are high rates of depression and mental illness, high incidences of substance abuse, violence, and feeling of hopelessness as a result of the oppression. The domestic violence and deep poverty have pushed the youth living in the Aboriginal reserve towards a life of crime. Furthermore, the rate of killing and committing suicide of the Aboriginal youth gang members is a matter of concern as it exceeds by far the level of extreme groups in other groups in Canada (Retnakaran, et al., 2014). Moreover, the rate according to some studies indicates that it might be the highest in the world. Moreover majority of the youth living a gang life usually have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (Retnakaran, et al., 2014). FASD is usually a disorder that affects children that are born of a mother that used to drink during the pregnancy period. The high rate of FASD among the youths in the Aboriginal communities can be attributed to the high rate of depression prompting women do indulge in alcohol drinking so as to manage their stressful life (Retnakaran, et al., 2014). Moreover, data indicate that as compared to the non-natives, the Aboriginal youths are likely to be victims of homicide seven times more. Additionally, they are also likely to commit suicide five times more than natives and twice likely to die as a result of alcohol-related complications and issues. In addition, Aboriginal girls have higher risks of being assaulted and consequently getting pregnant at teenage.

The Links Between This Topic and Youth Justice in Canada

The youth justice in Canada affects individuals between the age of 12 and 17. The youth justice is founded on youth criminal act in Canada (Doob, & Sprott, 2004). The laws were established to ensure effectiveness and fairness in treating the adolescences that get trouble with the law. The law governs that proper evidence about the child will be found out and so as to help in making a decision on what is good for the young teenager caught breaching the law (Doob, & Sprott, 2004). In addition, the law also advocates that the community has a role in preventing teenagers from committing crime

Furthermore, the justice system also has justice programs and other youth justice activities that help the teenagers caught in crime. The law outfits the Aboriginal cases of teenagers criminals. Most of the teenagers in the reserves require help since they suffer mental illnesses such as depression and disorder like FASD. Furthermore, the drive to commit a crime can be attributed to the low poverty levels. As the criminal youth justice system of Canada establishes, these teenagers require help, not incarceration. The kind of the environment the children develop in exposes them to all varieties of crimes, and the rate of criminalization is high. The law can help a lot as these children through the justice system can be put to relevant programs that can shape them. Furthermore, individuals with FASD require medical attention that is why the law outfits the cases of the criminal teenagers as proper information is collected about the youth before deciding the action the court shall take.

Promising Practices/Interventions in This Area

In addition, to solve problems of Aboriginal, the government is focusing on issues such as education employment, living conditions and social support together with access to health services in the reserves (Camman, et al., 2011). Some of the approaches include restoring the community and individuals resilience, promoting and restoring Aboriginal identity and keeping the languages and community cultures alive. Some of the promising practices are occurring today in urban settings Inuit and Metis communities and first nations reserves throughout Canada (Camman, et al., 2011). In addition, research is being undertaken to establish the best ways to incorporate these approaches into the communities across the country.

Furthermore, the government has established 518 schools in the First National reserves today so as to facilitate learning (Camman, et al., 2011). The federal government hopes to improve the social economic of the Aboriginal community living in the reserves through the education. The government aims at providing education condition that is similar to that enjoyed by other people in Canada. Furthermore, the government has set programs that are facilitating the teenagers and children to learn.

Reflection on Whether This Topic Should Be Addressed Through Community Justice Programs and Services or Custody Programs

The community and justice service programs provide youths with knowledge and skills that are needed to work in a variety of settings with offenders and other criminal groups such as gangs (Griffiths, & Cunningham, 2004). The objective is to ensure successive rehabilitation and reintegration together with the protection of the public. The programs offer personal training, crisis intervention, offender programming defensive tactics, and others. On the other hand, youth custody programs supervises juveniles that have been ordered by the law court to serve time in a secure or open custody together with others that have been detained pending further appearances in the court (Griffiths, & Cunningham, 2004).

The teenagers from the Aboriginal community are usually dangerous given that most are members of dangerous gangs. Furthermore, they often suffer from the FASD hence hazardous to the public. The best programs to handle them would be the custody services since they are put in a secure custody and taught together with offered both medical attention if required so as to improve their behaviors significantly.


Camman, C. C., Ferguson, M., Appell, R., & Wormith, J. S. (2011). Environmental Scan of Canadian and International Aboriginal Corrections Programs and Services.

Doob, A. N., & Sprott, J. B. (2004). Youth justice in Canada. Crime and Justice, 185-242.

Griffiths, C. T., & Cunningham, A. H. (2004). Canadian corrections. Nelson Thomson Learning.

Kirmayer, L., Simpson, C., & Cargo, M. (2003). Healing traditions: Culture, community, and mental health promotion with Canadian Aboriginal peoples. Australasian Psychiatry, 11(sup1), S15-S23.

Retnakaran, R., Hanley, A. J., Connelly, P. W., Harris, S. B., & Zinman, B. (2005). Cigarette smoking and cardiovascular risk factors among Aboriginal Canadian youths. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 173(8), 885-889.

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