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Opinion

Why the courts can’t treat everyone the same

If you’ve ever seen a news article about an Indigenous person being convicted of a crime and the judge considering a Gladue report in determining a sentence, you’ve probable seen the white backlash.

If you’ve ever seen a news article about an Indigenous person being convicted of a crime and the judge considering a Gladue report in determining a sentence, you’ve probably seen the white backlash.

“Do the crime. Do the time.”

“No one gets special treatment.”

“Everyone gets treated the same.”

That’s just it though. We aren’t all treated the same.

We haven’t all had to deal with the cascading effects of generations of our ancestors experiencing the mental, physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, and cultural abuse of residential schools.

We haven’t all had to deal with living our entire pre-adult life in and out of foster homes because we were stolen from our homes, just like the other 90% of the youth in foster care, who are also Indigenous.

We haven’t all had to deal with poorer health outcomes, higher poverty rates, lower education completion rates, higher substance abuse rates, and prevalent crime, all a result of your community being vastly and chronically underfunded.

Which isn’t to say that every Indigenous person who commits a crime has, but that’s the point of the Gladue report: determine if they have and how that may have influenced their life choices that eventually led them to commit that crime.

It’d be wonderful if we were all treated equally, but that’s hard to do when the system already doesn’t treat us all equally.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 5 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I recently finished writing a book debunking several capitalism myths. My newest book writing project is on the labour history of Lethbridge.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

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