Toward Sovereign Indigenous Justice: On Removing the Colonial Straightjacket

Keywords: Colonialism; Indigenous Justice; Assimilation; Restorative Justice; De-colonization; Self-governance.


Canada has oppressed Indigenous peoples capacity for true sovereignty through colonialism, genocide and attempted assimilation. This devastation manifests in the disproportionate social ills facing Indigenous peoples and their overrepresentation at all levels of the imposed criminal justice system (CJS). Trauma and internalized colonialism have constrained the capacity of Indigenous Nations to reclaim their place in the world as self-governing peoples. Canada has attempted to ‘fix’ this problem through creating parallel systems, trying to fit ‘Indigenous’ conceptions of justice into existing systems, and problematically adopting restorative justice as synonymous with Indigenous justice. The rhetoric of reconciliation and apology mask the continual genocidal, assimilative goals of the state. With these caveats in mind, the need to reject internalized colonialism and develop capacity for the development of sovereign Indigenous justice systems will be examined.



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Author Biography

Michaela Mary McGuire (Jaad Gudghiljiwah) , Simon Fraser University

Michaela McGuire (Jaad Gudghiljiwah) is a Master’s student studying in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. Michaela’s ancestry is Haida, Ojibwe, British, and Irish, she considers herself a Haida citizen first and foremost. Michaela utilizes her positionality by situating herself within her academic work. Her research interests include Haida justice, decolonization, Haida Identity, Indigenous rights and sovereignty, self-governance, Indigenous women and corrections. Michaela is proud to spend the majority of her time living on Haida Gwaii walking amongst the same forests and beaches her ancestors did, while dreaming of a future free from colonial control. 

How to Cite
McGuire, M. M., & Palys, T. (2020). Toward Sovereign Indigenous Justice: On Removing the Colonial Straightjacket. Decolonization of Criminology and Justice, 2(1), 59-82.