Aboriginal Peoples: Crime and Administration of Justice

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
CRIM 3355
Aboriginal Peoples: Crime and Administration of Justice
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week / semester Seminar: 2 hrs. per week / semester
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:

  • lectures
  • seminar presentations
  • audio visual materials including video
  • small group discussions
  • research projects
  • research papers
Course Description
This course uses the tools of criminology to examine crime and deviance of Aboriginal peoples and community responses to this behaviour. A critical examination of various theories to explain the nature and patterns of Aboriginal crime and delinquency is provided. A critical examination of the Aboriginal experience with the criminal justice system is included. Innovative Canadian and international services for Aboriginals will also be examined.
Course Content
  1. Defining the Problem:  A Statistical Overview
    • Aboriginal conditions in Canada:  social, economic, health and welfare
    • Criminal justice statistics:  arrest rates, crime patterns, incarceration and recidivism rates of Aboriginal people in Canada
    • Aboriginal  young offenders:  a statistical overview
    • A statistical comparison to non-Aboriginal Canadians
  2. Introduction to Theory:  Nature and Requirements
    • What is a “theory”?
    • Criteria of theory, theory testing
    • Theory, research and social policy
  3. Theories of Criminality
    • Introduction to basic concepts in sociology and psychology, for example:  culture, values, personality, stereotypes, ethnicity, socialization, racism
    • A critical analysis of various sociological, interpersonal, and psychological theories to explain Aboriginal crime and delinquency.  This includes:
      • the role of history and impact of residential schools
        • culture conflict
        • anomie theory and social structure
        • alcohol, drugs and crime
        • personality theories
        • socialization, learning and the family
        • assimilation/acculturation
        • social disorganization
        • labeling, stereotypes, and discrimination
        • critical conflict theory
  4. Aboriginal Peoples and the Criminal Justice System
    • A critical analysis of the role of the criminal justice agents with respect to Aboriginal youth and Aboriginal adult offenders. Topics include:
      • police surveillance, visibility and arrests of Aboriginal people
      • Aboriginal youths and police relations
      • communication in the courtroom:  linguistic and cultural difficulties
      • judicial sentencing:  discrimination versus differential treatment
      • corrections:  meeting the needs of Aboriginal offenders 
      • high recidivism rates of Aboriginal offenders:  the revolving door
  5. Justice Programs for Aboriginal Peoples:  the Development of Alternatives
    • An examination of the issues to consider when developing and implementing alternative programs:
      • community input and participation
      • needs and concerns
      • self-determination
      • resources and support services
      • cross-cultural awareness and training
      • the importance of truth and reconciliation
      • a critical analysis of justice services developed for, and by, Aboriginal people, such as:
        • native court workers
        • Aboriginal Justice of the Peace Programs
        • Aboriginal Police Services
        • tribal courts, elders councils, circle sentencing, restorative justice, healing circles
        • native brotherhoods and sisterhoods in correctional institutes
        • spirituality inside correctional institutes
        • life skills programs for Aboriginal youth
        • recommendations for future programming
  6. International Comparisons:  Justice Programs for Aboriginal Communities
    • various international comparisons will be critically analysed (Australia, U.S.A., New Guinea)
Learning Outcomes

The primary objective of this course is to use the tools of criminology to examine the crime and deviance of Aboriginal peoples in Canada and community responses to this behaviour.


At the conclusion of the course, the successful student will be able to:

  1. Critically analyse the nature and extent of Aboriginal criminality.
  2. Apply, through critical analysis, specific theoretical perspectives to explain the nature and extent of Aboriginal crime and delinquency. 
  3. Explain, through critical analysis, the role of Criminal Justice agents with respect to Aboriginal offenders.
  4. Critically analyse several justice initiatives developed for and by Aboriginal peoples and to critically analyse such initiatives.
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy.  The instructor will provide written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.  Evaluation will be based on some of the following:

  1. Short Answer Tests
  2. Exams
  3. Oral Presentation
  4. Research Project/ Term Paper
  5. Class Participation


An example of one possible evaluation scheme would be:

Midterm exam  30%
Final exam  30%
Research paper  30%
Seminar attendance & participation      10%
Total 100%



Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:


A text such as one of the following will be used:

British Law and Arctic Men, (2004), by R.G.Moyes, Burnaby: Simon Fraser University Publications.

Resistance and Renewal:  Surviving the Indian Residential School, (1998), by Haig-Brown, Celia, Vancouver:           Arsenal Pulp Press.

Returning to the Teachings, Exploring Aboriginal Justice, (2006), by Ross, Rupert, Toronto: Penguin Books.

Texts will be updated periodically.