B.C. prisons are filled with hugely disproportionate numbers of Indigenous inmates, Stats Canada finds

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      In British Columbia, Indigenous people make up about 5.4 percent of the general population. But in B.C. prisons in 2016/17, Indigenous people accounted for 30 percent of adult inmates in male prisons and 47 percent of adult inmates in female prisons.

      Those numbers are included in a new Statistics Canada report on the country's correctional systems.

      The June 2018 analysis goes on to show that the extent to which Indigenous people are disproportionately represented in B.C. prisons has grown worse in recent years.

      In 2006/07, Indigenous people accounted for 20 percent of male inmates in B.C. compared to 30 percent in 2016/17, and 29 percent of female inmates compared to 47 percent in 2016/17.

      In the United States, the extent to which African Americans are over-represented in prison populations is frequently discussed as an ongoing racial injustice and prime example of the country's continued failures to address systemic racism. In Canada, people don't talk about race as much as they do south of the 49th parallel. (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau only discusses the legalization of recreational marijuana as a matter of public safety, for example, whereas in the U.S., cannabis reform is often raised primarily as a matter of alleviating the racial oppression of peoples of colour.) But the over-representation of Indigenous people in Canadian prisons is actually worse than that of African Americans in U.S. prisons.

      In the United States, African Americans comprised about 12 percent of the general population in 2016 and 33 percent of people in U.S. prisons, according to the Pew Research Centre.

      Across Canada, Indigenous people comprise about five percent of the country's population while accounting for 28 percent of male inmates and 43 percent of female inmates.

      A similar disparity exists in Vancouver's homeless population. A shocking 40 percent of Vancouver’s homeless population identifies as Indigenous. That compares to just 2.2 percent of the city's general population.