The Aboriginal peoples of Canada were the first ones to occupy the land and establish lives for themselves and they were the sole inhabitants for many years before European contact. Aboriginal people are distinguished from others by their culture, language and legal status and there are over six hundred recognized bands in the country. Status Indians are registered under the Indian Act and belong to a band that has signed a treaty or other federal government document. Non-Status Indians identify themselves as Aboriginal but are not classified as so under the Indian Act. The Metis are a mixed group of both European and Indian ancestry. According to the 1991 census, about 3.7 percent of Canadians have Aboriginal origins of some sort. Considering their small percentage of the total population of Canada, Aboriginals tend to be over-represented in all stages of the criminal justice system. The census also showed that this group comprised twenty-four percent of those held in custody for conviction of a crime in 1991.
(Jackson and Griffiths 236) There have been various inquiries conducted across Canada that have collected a wide range of data to help determine this phenomena. These studies have shown that since there is no proof that native are more 'criminal' by nature, there are many other possible reasons for this large over-representation. These reasons include the social problems in many Aboriginal communities, alcohol and substance abuse, conflict with the 'white society' and discrimination at the various levels of the justice system.
The society in which modern Canadian Aboriginals now live was created over time from the historical relations with European settlers. Before any contact with other countries, the natives lived in Canada, undisturbed, for a long period and developed successfully with their own beliefs, cultures and way of life. When the foreigners...