Settler colonialism is incarcerating: Judah Oudshoorn, Towards ending incarceration of Indigenous peoples in Canada: A critical, narrative inquiry of hegemonic power in the Gladue report process, PhD dissertation, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2023

01Feb23

Abstract: This study is concerned with the possibility that Gladue perpetuates the hegemonic powers of settler colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and neoliberalism. Gladue is intended to remediate systemic anti-Indigenous racism by requiring judges to consider all alternatives to incarceration when sentencing Indigenous peoples, yet Indigenous incarceration rates continue to rise precipitously. On the surface, Gladue does not appear to disrupt the hegemonic status quo. How is it that the Canadian state, even when ‘remediating,’ keeps producing the same – colonial, oppressive, and tyrannical – result? This qualitative study used a critical, narrative methodology, interviewing Gladue report writers (n=9) and judges (n=12) about their perspectives and experiences with Gladue, particularly Gladue reports. The study purposefully emphasized settler accountability – research as reparation – in the research design, data collection, and analysis. A careful, ethical protocol for researching with Indigenous peoples (n=9) was followed, premised in Truth and Reconciliation ‘Call to Action’ number 30 to reduce Indigenous incarceration in Canada. This study found that Gladue is falling short of achieving its systemic aim because of (a) a hyper-individualistic, dehumanizing configuration that discursively shifts judges away from dealing with the systemic issue of anti-Indigenous racism, towards judging the individual Indigenous person before the court; (b) colonial mentalities (e.g., whiteness and patriarchy) persisting in the process; (c) a lack of funding for Gladue writers, as well alternatives to incarceration, constraining judges’ capacities to divert Indigenous away from prisons. The study points towards the need for a more radical framework for Gladue that honours Indigenous selfdetermination and foundational treaties such as the Two Row Wampum.



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