Canada’s wrongful conviction

As I reflect on the passing of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, I recall information shared with me by one Vern Harper. Vern is my only source of information, as I never had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Carter.

“Hurricane” assisted in founding the organization AIDWC (The Association in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted) to expose the injustice done to fellow human beings who have been wrongfully convicted by the judicial system.

This issue is one of the most pressing topics of our time. As noted by the report of Retired Justice Frank Iacobucci, the Justice system of “Canada” has failed Aboriginal People. So one must ask the obvious question : What are we the Indigenous People doing to protect the Human Rights of People?

In previous writings I have suggested that equality before the “Law” is an absolute requirement of any body claiming “Lawful Authority” over people. I have heard much in the way of claims of protection of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights and Human Rights as discussed in groups such as the “UN’s Forum on Indigenous Peoples”. These efforts are touted as a step forward for Indigenous People. One must have an enlightened view and knowledge of the nature and substance of the forces that harm Indigenous People. But in practical ways, how are these claimants to “Lawful Authority” protecting us?

One needs to investigate the reports and statistical data concerning the involvement of “Aboriginal People” in the justice/injustice system. The many perspectives of that failure include a failed land claims policy, a failed education policy that perpetuates the status quo, a failed economic policy that if investigated on principles of International Law and “common sense” would find that “Canada” is in fact a failed State. We the Indigenous people of North America are not only victimized by the same system that has created Ferguson Missouri but additionally, policies of “Indian Affairs Administration” that spawned the Residential Schools, an administrative policy of child abuse. It is this environment that skirmish lines are drawn such as the “Douglas Creek Estates”.

How a “State” addresses issues of justice vis-a-vis conflicts between and among people is telling. Those claims about “Canada’s” dual justice system are founded in truth, for there is one for “Canadians” and one for “Aboriginal People”.

I do support the contention that duality does exist within the system. The duality is institutionalized in common law as an outcome of Canada’s Colonial Legacy. The courts of the settler state require that the Indigenous prove their prior use and occupation. This principle puts the question of “law and due process” on “its head”. The settler state does not have to “prove” that the state acquired Indigenous lands “lawfully.” Instead, we the Indigenous are then required to prove in courts of the settler state that we exist and that our ancient ways remain intact. It is in this posturing, of purported “Lawful Authority” that is the failure of the “Legal System”, as Justice Frank Iacobucci suggests.

These cases of record (“Common Law”), further disempowers and subjects the “Indigenous” to institutional abuse. I am more critical of the judicial system. I refer to this process as “judicial persecution”.

Donald Marshal comes to mind as a high profile case of wrongfully convicted. Upon further investigation of the Donald Marshal case, one must ask the question as to the real/political forces that caused his wrongful conviction. His case has become a touchstone of what is wrong in the system of coexistence (as envisioned by our forefathers) between Indigenous People and the settler State calling itself “Canada.”

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