MKO Grand Chief Supports Calls for Change Raised by Correctional Investigator of Canada

Systemic Racism from the Day They are Born

Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is responding to a media release shared by the Office of the Correctional Investigator of Canada yesterday.

Correctional Investigator of Canada Ivan Zinger said that although Indigenous peoples account for about five percent of the population in Canada, Indigenous people now make up more than 30 percent of the federal inmate population. This is in comparison to 25 percent four years ago. Even more troubling, Indigenous women now account for 42 percent of the female inmate population in Canada.

“MKO supports the calls shared by the Correctional Investigator of Canada,” shares MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “It is not surprising that the percentage of Indigenous inmates continues to grow as First Nations citizens face systemic discrimination from the day they are born. We call on the Government of Canada to take meaningful action on a number of issues now to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples that is occurring within our justice system.”

“I urge leaders to work with MKO to implement a culturally responsive approach to address the diverse healing needs in our First Nations,” said Grand Chief Settee. “There is a need for a comprehensive review to overhaul restorative justice policies and programs in Northern Manitoba to impact and prevent recidivism and the incarceration rates of MKO citizens.”

Restorative justice programming would offer an alternative for less serious offenses. Restorative justice can be defined as a community and victim-centered sentencing philosophy that emphasizes offender accountability and responsibility through negotiated restitution.

Through his media statement, Mr. Zinger asked for the Correctional Service of Canada to accept its share of the responsibility and stated it needs to make “dramatic changes” to reduce readmissions and returns to custody, better prepare Indigenous offenders to meet earliest parole eligibility dates, and more safely return Indigenous offenders to their home communities.

“First Nations in Manitoba absolutely need to see action on this matter,” said Grand Chief Settee. “I want to thank Mr. Zinger for calling it like it is, which is the most persistent and pressing human rights issue and nothing short of a national travesty.”