Transforming the Criminal Justice System: Indigenous Over-representation – Jorgina

This is a story from real people, told in
their own words. It contains information about themes that
may be difficult for some audiences. My name is Jorgina Sunn and I’m a survivor of the Canadian justice system as well as
a survivor of the Child Welfare System. Both my parents were survivors of the residential
school and as a result of their experience there, how it impacted their lives so it impacted,
myself and, and my brothers and my sisters. We travelled into, various foster homes, and
in those foster homes endured through all kinds of different abuses; sexual abuse, physical
abuse, emotional abuse. So, I was deprived of love and nurturing and
safety. And, because I was deprived of those things
how it manifested into a lack of self-worth, no identity whatsoever and ultimately being
completely fearful, all the time, of the adults in my life. So, I found myself wrapped and caught in a
crack-cocaine addiction, alcoholism. I found myself, you know, in and out of abusive
relationships and ultimately serving various bits of time and then ultimately finding myself
in a federal penitentiary for the trafficking of cocaine. Indigenous adults represent 4.1% of the total
Canadian adult population, but 26% of adults in federal custody. The solution is, is to just lock-up Aboriginal
people. This is the solution for people who are broken
today is to put them, to put them in prison. Being Aboriginal means you’re a lesser person. And so, in those institutions, you’re treated
as a lesser person. Even if what I’m doing is wrong, ultimately,
there’s a reason why I, I’m doing these things and so, in those places, you know,
there was never the, the space or the opportunity or the safety to find out why. Indigenous youth make up 39% of youth in provincial
or territorial jail. The correctional guards, the police, the arresting
officers, the judges, the lawyers who weren’t willing to try to understand why I was doing
the things that I was doing, the hatred and resentment that I carried for many years towards
all the systems that failed me since I was… Punishing isn’t working. We need more places of healing. We need better understanding of, of what trauma
and dysfunction looks like. Father Andre, Founder STR8 UP:
Every jail should be turned into a, a rehabilitation centre and if the guys don’t want to take
advantage of that, then that’s their choice. But, a lot of guys would. STR8 UP is a grassroots organization that
assists individuals in mastering their own destiny in liberating themselves from gangs
and criminals street lifestyles. It is based in Saskatoon. People are having conversations finally that there is this overrepresentation of Aboriginal
people in the justice system. So, what are we going to do to change it? What are you going to do for all the people
that have experienced the things that I’ve experienced, not by choice, as a young person. How do we stop those cycles? Prison is not the answer. How can we transform Canada’s criminal justice
system to better address Indigenous over-representation? Join the online discussion on this page and
share your ideas. To learn more go to

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