Essay on Aboriginal Canadians and The Criminal Justice System

947 Words4 Pages
No community in Canada comes into conflict with criminal justice system officials more disproportionately than Aboriginals (Dickson-Gilmore, 2011, p.77). Indeed, Aboriginal Canadians are often subject to both overt and unintended discrimination from Canadian law enforcement due in large part to institutionalized reputations as chronic substance abusers who are incapable of reform (Dickson-Gilmore, 2011, p.77-78). One of the more startling contemporary examples of this is the case of Frank Paul; a Mi’kmaq Canadian who was left to die in a Vancouver alley by officers of the Vancouver Police Department after being denied refuge in a police “drunk tank”. Not surprisingly, this event garnered significant controversy and public outcry amongst…show more content…
William H. Davies was appointed as the sole commissioner. The initial interim report, released in 2009, called for substantial policy changes to alleviate the chronic levels of substance abuse and alcoholism present amongst the Aboriginal population of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (Davies, 2009). The final report, released in 2011, called for sweeping changes to British Columbia’s Criminal Justice Branch and the manner in which law enforcement officials are charged and prosecuted therein (Davies, 2011). The commission featured 60 evidentiary hearings and 9 days of closing oral submissions. A total of 68 witnesses were called upon to provide testimony.

Findings It was determined that Sgt. Sanderson exercised gross negligence when he denied Paul entry to VPD’s sobering cell and that Cst. Instant wrongfully left Paul exposed to dangerous environmental conditions while Paul was in no condition to care for himself (Davies, 2009). Although Sgt. Sanderson and Cst. Instant displayed poor judgement, the reasons for refusing Paul sanctuary were not deemed to be attributed to overt discrimination or racism stemming from Paul’s Aboriginal status. While the officers involved acted irresponsibly, it was ruled that they did not intend to cause Paul harm or bring about his death (Davies, 2009). However, despite fairly strong evidence that
Get Access