ontario news watch

Canadian prisons ‘disturbingly and unconscionably Indigenized’: corrections watchdog

OTTAWA — The federal prison watchdog says there are still too many Indigenous people behind bars in Canada.

In fact, correctional investigator Ivan Zinger says the problem has gotten significantly worse since he originally flagged it a decade ago. 

Zinger’s latest annual report says 32 per cent of all federal inmates in Canada — and 50 per cent of the women — are Indigenous, compared to 25 per cent in 2013.

The report describes the country’s penitentiary system as “disturbingly and unconscionably Indigenized,” with many lingering hallmarks of colonialism. 

That, Zinger says, contributes to the ongoing marginalization, criminalization and over-imprisonment of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. 

The new report urges the transfer of federally run healing lodges to local authorities, calls for a national Indigenous “decarceration” strategy and better supports for Indigenous elders who work in corrections. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2023.

The Canadian Press