Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 19, 2013

Terrance Nelson 'Why Indians stay in jail'

Canada continues systematic genocide with the incarceration of First Nations and failure to honor Treaties

By Terrance Nelson
First Nation Roseau River Anishinabe
Vice Chairman American Indian Movement

Dear Gord Hannon
You represented the Attorney General of Manitoba at the recent CN V Terrance Nelson court case. The court found for CN and further decided that I have no standing to present Treaty issues regarding CN's title in Treaty # 1, territory.
On January 16, 2013, I organized the six hour Blockade of CN railway line near Portage La Prairie Manitoba. It was part of First Nation actions across Canada asked for by Chiefs to put pressure on the Canadian Government to live up to the Treaty obligations. It was part of a national protest of the way our people are treated in Canada.
Twenty-two years ago in November 1991, the Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Report was delivered to Government. Gord McIntosh was the Attorney General.
The volumes of information and recommendations gave hope to people that somehow the government of Manitoba would change the way they treated the indigenous peoples of this province.
... the AJI also found that Aboriginal people in 1990 comprised over half of all inmates in Manitoba's provincial and federal correctional institutions, and conservatively estimated that Aboriginal adults in Manitoba were six times as likely to be incarcerated as non-Aboriginal adults.
...The AJI defined "systemic discrimination" as "the application of a standard or criterion, or the use of a 'standard practice,' [which] creates an adverse impact upon an identifiable group that is not consciously intended."3
The Inquiry found that Aboriginal individuals sent before Provincial Court faced, on average, 25% more charges than non-Aboriginal people did, with 22% of Aboriginal people facing four charges or more. They were, on average, 1.34 times as likely to be held in pre-trial detention. Aboriginal women were 2.4 times as likely to be held as non-Aboriginal women. Overall, the AJI found that "Aboriginal detainees had a 21% chance of being granted bail, while non-Aboriginal detainees had a 56% chance."4
I sent the following email out to my over three hundred email list. The man who I was trying to bail out goes before court on Wednesday and his lawyer is a guy named Munce at Zamanlaw. His email address is visible in the CCs. What I would like to know is if the Magistrate was racist in her decisions. I am asking you if it is standard practise for a Magistrate to ask for personal bank statements from someone who is providing surety. I would like to know how many times this is asked of white people in comparison to the indigenous peoples.
To me, the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry was a waste of time and absolute horse shit because the result is that the recommendations are not being followed and the statistics today are worse than 22 years ago. You now have 71% of inmates in Manitoba being indigenous peoples. Congratulations!
How in hell do the indigenous inmates get bail if the province does not accept property on reserve. My house on reserve was part of my application. The Magistrate crossed that part of my application out.
If the unemployment rate on the 64 reserves in Manitoba is between 60 and 95%, how in hell does an indigenous person qualify if only 5% to 40% of the people on reserve have a job. I asked the Magistrate if I can post a cash bail of $1,000 but she said no, it has to be a surety of $1,000. How the hell can I post a surety if the Magistrate won`t accept any of my documents.
For the Magistrate to ask me for my personal bank statements is just plain racism unless I can see evidence that this is standard policy that is also applied to white people. So, I am asking you, is this standard practise and can you provide me evidence that this is not just another racist denying me because I am an indigenous person. I am a high profile person and obviously a person not well liked by the Judges, but my question is not about me, I would like to know how do other indigenous people get treated when they apply to bail out someone. Do your Manitoba Magistrates treat them the same way. If so, where do we make a complaint about the Magistrates and is it worth it to even file a complaint.
I remember the hype and flowery speeches made in 1991 and I remember Eric Robinson`s speech on the AJI. It is sad that twenty two years later, it is not only not changed, the statistics are even worse today for our people.
Terrance Nelson
Vice Chair American Indian Movement

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