Indigenous Peoples: Crime and Justice

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
CRIM 3355
Indigenous Peoples: Crime and Justice
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours


4 hours 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
  • oral presentations
  • audio visual materials including films
  • small group discussions
  • research projects
  • research papers
Course Description
This course examines crime, deviance, and victimization of Indigenous persons and subsequent community and system responses. A critical examination of relevant theory practice will analyze the effects of colonialism both historically and contemporarily. The critical role of the justice system is included. Culturally relevant healing programs and justice initiatives along with community reactions and responses will be examined.
Course Content
  1. Defining the Problem:  A Statistical Overview
    • Population rates, social, economic, education, health and welfare
    • Indigenous children and youth in foster care and child welfare systems
    • Victimization of Indigenous women and girls
    • Criminal justice statistics:  crime patterns, arrest patterns, conditional release, incarceration and recidivism rates 
    • Indigenous young offenders: a statistical overview
    • Indigenous organized gangs
    • A statistical comparison to non-Indigenous Canadians
  2. Introduction to Theory:  Nature and Requirements
    • Criteria of theory, theory testing
    • The relationship between theory, research and social policy
  3. Theories of Criminality
  • Concepts such as:  culture, values, stereotypes, ethnocentrism, systemic and overt racism, acculturation and  assimilation will be defined.
  • An understanding of  patterns of victimization and criminalization through a critical analysis of:
    • residential schools
    • colonialization
    • government legislation and policies
    • historical trauma
    • social process perspective
    • social structure perspective
    • social conflict perspective
  • Indigenous Peoples and the Criminal Justice System
    • A critical analysis of the role of the criminal justice agents. Topics include:
      • police surveillance, visibility of offences, and arrest patterns
      • Indigenous youth and police relations
      • justice services in the Canadian north
      • judicial sentencing: the Gladue decision
      • corrections:  meeting the needs of Indigenous male and female offenders
      • the parole process and Indigenous offenders
      • recidivism rates of Indigenous offenders
  • Justice and Healing Programs
    • An examination of factors to consider when developing and implementing programs:
      • community consultation and participation
      • community activism
      • self-determination and autonomous justice initiatives
      • resources and community infrastructure
      • concepts of Indigenous justice and healing
      • cross-cultural awareness and training
      • achieving reconciliation: repairing and healing relationships
    • A critical analysis of justice services developed for, and by, Indigenous persons, such as:
        • Indigenous court workers
        • Indigenous Justice of the Peace Programs
        • Indigenous Police Services
        • restorative justice initiatives, for example: Indigenous courts, elders councils, circle sentencing, healing circles
        • federal legislation in relation to Indigenous correctional programming
        • spirituality, culture and healing in corrections: healing lodges
        • the role of elders in correctional programming
        • programs for Indigenous youth
  • International Comparisons:  Justice Programs for Indigenous Communities
    • various international comparisons will be critically analysed (Australia, U.S.A.)
  • Learning Outcomes

    The primary objective of this course is to examine crime, deviance, and victimization of Indigenous peoples along with subsequent community and system responses.

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

    1. Critically analyse the nature and extent of criminality and victimization of Indigenous persons in Canada, with a focus on over representation in the criminal justice system.
    2. Apply, through critical analysis, specific  concepts and theoretical perspectives to explain the nature and extent of crime, deviance and victimization of Indigenous persons in Canada.
    3. Explain, through critical analysis, the role of criminal justice agents.
    4. Critically analyse several Indigenous healing programs, justice initiatives, and community responses.
    Means of Assessment

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

    1. Examinations
    2. Oral Presentation
    3. Research Project/ Term Paper
    4. Class Participation and Attendance


    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

    Texts and custom course materials, including journal articles will be compiled and required by the instructor. These will be updated periodically by the instructor. Texts could include the following:

    Forever Loved. Exposing the Hidden Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, (2016), ed by D. Memee Lavell-Harvard and Jennifer Brant, Bradford: Demeter Press.

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

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

    Seven Fallen Feathers. Racism, Death and Truths in a Northern City, (2017), by Tanya Talaga, Toronto: House of Anansi Press Inc.

    A Knock on the Door. Essential History of Residential Schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, (2015), by Phil Fontaine, Aimee Craft, and The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press. 

    Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, (2015), by The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.



    Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

    • No corequisite courses

    Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

    • No equivalency courses