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Police Discrimination Against Indigenous People in Canada

The extensive technological development has increased videos on phones and social media platforms; as a result, there is more attention on the issue of racial disparities in policing indigenous and other minorities. Despite that, police discrimination, such as excessive force, has not decreased. Aboriginals and black people have a higher chance of experiencing police violence than white people. Also, they are more likely to interact with police officers due to racial profiling with arrests and searches, which increases the chances of aggressive police interaction. This paper expounds on police discrimination and brutality when policing indigenous persons and disadvantaged minorities. The purpose is to determine how indigenous civilians are likely to have discriminatory interactions with law enforcement personnel. Cases of inequalities continue to happen since police officers lack accountability and oversight; this allows them to avoid the consequences of their injustices. Unlawful officers are rarely held accountable for unethical behavior, which is why there is a cycle of biases and violence against indigenous civilians, as they are likely to be arrested, charged, brutalized, and killed compared to their white counterparts.

Police violence or brutality is the excessive use of force by law enforcement personnel and is unlawful, especially when unwarranted. Excessive lethal force against Canadian citizens has led to physical, mental harm and even death among victims. In America, police officers are protected from civil action due to the qualified immunity doctrine, which promotes systemic racism and indigenous over-representation in use-of-force encounters. Generally, global media portrays police violence and discrimination as an American problem, but Canadians face the same challenges. There have been several high-profile cases, such as Dafonte Miller’s beating and the death of Robert Dziekanski (Brar, 2022). There is no official system that tracks cases of brutality in Canada; however, a CBS news report depicts that there have been 400 deaths caused by law enforcement personnel (Brar, 2022). There is a need for improved legislation and laws to solve systemic police racism and improve police training to mitigate discrimination.

Mass incarceration, frequent arrests, and movement restrictions are part and parcel of the daily experiences of indigenous and other minority populations (Axster et al., 2021). Recent social studies on international relations have examined the prevalence of police brutality through an “authoritarian” neo-liberalism lens and discovered that inequality is global and based on colonial accumulation by dispossession. Canadian law enforcement often promotes social values that foster equality and multicultural notions; nonetheless, studies have long identified policies that foster differential perceptions and treatment of indigenous persons compared to their white counterparts. Such cases include racial profiling, unfair detention, and forceful information attainment (Axster et al., 2021). Evidence depicts that such activities have detrimental impacts on perceptions and social support for law enforcement, particularly from indigenous and minority communities (Samuels-Wortley, 2021). Also, studies in the United States, Canada, and Australia depict that black and indigenous youth perceive law enforcement negatively.

According to research, a Kwanlin Dün First Nation leader, citizens insist there is a strong distrust of police and law enforcement (McKay, 2021). Such societal conflicts arise when power and resources are unequally distributed between different communities; these conflicts are the foundation for social change (Brar, 2022). Based on this perspective, power is superior to resources and politics in society. People’s social status is determined by economic status and other factors such as ethnicity and gender. Social position is determined by a person’s economic position between the working class and the ruling class. In other words, it is the conflict between capitalism and various social classes. The same concept applies when looking at race-based police violence. Dominant populations use the mechanisms of law enforcement to protect personal interests against indigenous and other minorities, often labeled as dangerous. This is true for citizens from lower socioeconomic status, primarily represented by indigenous communities. Therefore, minority Canadians do not trust law enforcement personnel and the justice department, which is why they operate with a legacy of mistrust.

Because extensive Canadian research focuses on racial bias in policing, there is a chance to evaluate this phenomenon through the critical race viewpoint (Samuels-Wortley, 2021). Founded in legal studies, critical race theory fosters the theoretical and conceptual understanding of how the law is used to uphold stereotypical racial beliefs and stereotypes to promote white privilege and white supremacist ideals. The critical race theory maintains that despite having equality policies, racism is embedded in the social structures of power, which is why legal researchers insist that the law is both a promoter and product of racism (Samuels-Wortley, 2021). The theory is relevant to criminology since studies depict that criminal justice is founded on the process and social structures that maintain the marginalization of indigenous persons and other minorities. Based on Canada’s commitment to national and international democracy, the critical race framework may lead to investigations into the complex relationship between race, crime, and justice years (Samuels-Wortley, 2021). Prioritizing race and racism allows policymakers and practitioners to understand the oppression of indigenous youth, social foundations, and potential interventions.

Similar to the language used by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, most police agencies portray their commitment to work and civilian safety, irrespective of ethnicity. For instance, Toronto Police state that they uphold “rights and freedoms and their officers are free from biases” (Samuels-Wortley, 2021). Second, they insist they will treat people with dignity and respect. However, many studies depict that black and indigenous people, in particular, perceive criminal justice as biased against its members. Canadian legal scholars focus on inequality in law enforcement as another form of racism because it denies the existence of racial bias. Policymakers and scholars know less about youth perception of police officers since most studies focus on adults, despite negative attitudes developing during adolescent years (Samuels-Wortley, 2021). Law enforcement relies on public support, but persons with negative perceptions are less likely to work with law enforcement. Similarly, negative perceptions may reduce compliance and trust in the law. Comprehending radicalized youth notions are fundamental research subject.

There are limited comprehensive research findings on individual police officers committing a crime, and no federal institution collects information on all criminal accusations involving law enforcement personnel in Canada. As a result, researchers utilize other methodologies, such as surveys, internal agency data, and independent commission information, to assess police misconduct. Limited data on police crime is a problem since mitigation requires systematic and generalized documentation. The availability of comprehensive data would foster comparison between law enforcement institutions and contribute to policies that reduce damage to police-community relations. From a scholarly viewpoint, police crime data would foster studies that explore the relationship between police deviance and crime in indigenous communities. The justice department investigates and prosecutes crimes committed by law enforcement officers if the evidence allows. Often investigation involves using too much force, sexual abuse, robbery, deliberate indifference to urgent medical needs, or causing harm to persons in custody. Also, the department prosecutes personnel for obstruction of justice.

Public support for law enforcement is vital to police efficacy (Kwon & Wortley, 2020). The purpose is to foster police integrity by understanding why individual officers commit crimes. Therefore, unethical police practice destroys law enforcement personnel’s reputation, legitimacy, and occupational integrity. Police officers should engage with the public ethically without causing harm; therefore, using more force than necessary goes against duty and ethical guidelines. Law enforcement personnel take oaths at the beginning of their work. They must understand and observe ethical stipulations that determine their behavior in and out of work. Besides, they swear to prioritize society, defend innocent people, protect the oppressed, and foster peace. Additionally, they swear to uphold justice constitutionally granted to everyone, irrespective of race, gender, and ethnicity. Therefore, many ethical conflicts occur when individual police officers commit a crime. According to constitutional guidelines, law enforcement officers should follow the ethical guidelines of the criminal justice system. Besides, people feel safer if they live and operate under the law. The ethical behavior of law enforcement officers is vital to the performance of federal agencies.

In summary, there are increased cases of police brutality due to systemic racism in policing, increased interaction between indigenous and police, and lack of law enforcement accountability. Racism hinders police-civilian relationships and raises the vulnerability of minority populations not protected by the criminal justice system. Additionally, the lack of accountability fosters racism and brutality since proprietors do not face justice. As the recent killings of minorities in the United States increase global concerns, Canada has also been forced to intervene against its injustices. Canadian police officers have more power than civilians, which is why the latter relies on the former for protection. Unfortunately, this narrative is not valid for indigenous civilians and other minorities. The relationship between indigenous and law enforcement is founded on mistrust. There is a need for improved legislation and laws to solve systemic police racism and improve police training to mitigate discrimination.


Axster, S., Dawid, I., Goldstein, A., Mahmoudi, M., Tansel, C. B., & Wilcox, L. (2021). Colonial lives of the carceral archipelago: Rethinking the neoliberal security state. International Political Sociology, 15(3), 415-439.

Brar, M. (2022). “Thanks for the warning officer”: Exploring Racial Disparities in Police Violence. THE SOCIETY: Sociology and Criminology Undergraduate Review, 7(1).

Kwon, J., & Wortley, S. (2020). Policing the police: Public perceptions of civilian oversight in Canada. Race and Justice, 2153368720924560

McKay, J. (2021). Systemic racism in policing in Canada. House of Commons-National Security.

Samuels-Wortley, K. (2021). To serve and protect whom? Using composite counter-storytelling to explore Black and Indigenous youth experiences and perceptions of the police in Canada. Crime & Delinquency67(8), 1137-1164.


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