The over-incarceration of First Nations people in Manitoba is a national crisis

barbed wire at a prison

June 26, 2018

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba


Treaty One Territory, MB. _ The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) considers the most recent report by Statistics Canada, Adult and youth correctional statistics in Canada, 2016/2017, further evidence of a growing national crisis. The report shows that while youth incarceration has been on the decline since 2012, those numbers have increased for First Nation youth.

“Sadly, these statistics are not surprising,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of AMC. “The Office of the Correctional Investigator has been trying to raise the alarm on the increasing incarceration rates of First Nations for nearly two decades. This is a crisis that needs to be addressed immediately, starting with a strategic decarceration process, especially for First Nation women and youth.”

The report shows that while Indigenous youth represent only 8 per cent of the Canada’s youth population, they represent 46 per cent of those in corrections. However, in Manitoba, that number jumps to 81 percent for Indigenous boys and 82 per cent for Indigenous girls. The numbers for Indigenous adults are similar. Indigenous men represent 15 per cent of Manitoba’s population, but represent 74 per cent of those incarcerated. Indigenous women are currently the fastest-rising prison population.

Grand Chief Dumas explains, “Manitoba has always been ground zero for First Nations. Despite the many justice inquiries highlighting the lethal impacts of racism on our people, the situation continues to get worse, not better. We have the highest rates of children in foster care—more than 89 per cent; the highest rates of child poverty at 75 per cent;highest rate of police-involved deaths of our people at 60 per cent; and one of the highest rates of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls at more than 50 per cent. If this isn’t a crisis, I don’t know what is.”

The AMC is working to develop First Nations-led solutions to these multiple overlapping crises by working towards recognition and implementation of First Nation jurisdiction over all of these issues.