Dangerous and offensive (for a settler): Emily Lampron, “Unmanageable Threats?” An examination of the Canadian Dangerous Offender designation as applied to Indigenous people, MA dissertation, University of Ottawa, 2022


Abstract: In 2018-2019, 35.5% of people with a Dangerous Offender designation were Indigenous (Public Safety Canada, 2020, p. 117). While the disproportionate number of Indigenous people with the designation corresponds to the broader trend of overincarceration of Indigenous people in Canada, very little research has addressed the use of the designation on Indigenous people. This thesis provides a critical discourse analysis of 15 case law reports of Dangerous Offender designation hearings guided by settler colonial theory to examine why the designation disproportionately targets Indigenous people. I specifically examine the ways in which discourse enables the erasure of settler colonialism, and at time Indigeneity, in the decision-making process of Dangerous Offender designation hearings. The analysis found that the juridical framework for the application of the Dangerous Offender designation does not allow the courts to consider the impacts of settler colonialism at the designation stage. As such, the social locations of the individuals that demonstrate how settler colonialism may have contributed to their offending are not discussed in the decision-making process thereby creating a form of erasure of settler colonialism in the designation process. Additionally, the juridical framework gives psych experts much authority in the decision-making process. Thus, risk discourse dominates much of the case law reports and the impacts of settler colonialism as thereby translated in individual risk factors. Many of the risk factors that justify the application of the designation are in fact symptoms of settler colonialism. In sum, I conclude that the juridical framework of the Dangerous Offender designation is designed in a way that contributes to disproportionately targeting Indigenous people because their unique experience of settler colonialism and the role in played in their offending is erased or translated in risk which makes them more of a target.

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