SCO survey to examine First Nations involvement with justice system in Manitoba

An organization representing First Nations across southern Manitoba says it’s looking for feedback about the justice system from an Indigenous perspective.

The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) said Tuesday that it’s conducting an online survey to address the overrepresentation of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in the justice system, as well as focusing on issues of systemic discrimination.

Those issues are particularly acute in Manitoba, the organization said, where three-quarters of adults in custody are Indigenous, and where Canada’s highest number of Indigenous women and youth are incarcerated.

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“The goal of this survey is to provide our community members with a voice to help develop alternative measures for care that revolve around accountability and personal growth, rather than the current punitive measures of the colonial state,” SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said in a statement.

“As a leader, I am responsible for working with our Anishinaabe and Dakota Nations, and the more than 81,500 citizens SCO represents, to create a more just Manitoba.

“The results of this survey will provide First Nations leadership in southern Manitoba with guidance on how we can work to restore balance, health and real justice for our people.”

Chief Gordon Bluesky of Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation said that through the survey, the SCO hopes to learn more about citizens’ personal interactions within the justice system, as well as ideas on how that system could be made more equitable.

“This new Anishinaabe and Dakota Justice Survey will help clarify the priorities of our First Nations related to the justice system, whether it be through prevention, policing, courts, corrections, or victim’s services,” he said.

The 16-question survey is intended to remain open until mid-December.

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