Excerpt from "Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice"

Blog Post

Happening Now Monday, September 21, 2020 View Count = 1060

Excerpt from "Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice"

Canadian Justice, Indigenous InjusticeAs part of our #SamaraReads contest, we bring you excerpts from each of the five books shortlisted for the 2019 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, presented by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. We end the series with an excerpt from Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case by Kent Roach.

Enter our online contest for a chance to win copies of all five books, including Canadian Justice, Indigenous InjusticeTo participate, simply share your favourite recent political book on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram by September 21st, 2020. You must reside in Canada and include #SamaraReads in your social media post in order to qualify!



Canada is not immune from racially charged debates about crime, self-defence, and guns that are so pervasive and polarizing in the United States. Ongoing Canadian debates about rural crime reveal real problems. Recent data confirm higher per capita reporting of crimes to the police in rural as opposed to urban areas. This places demands on those who police rural areas in addition to the inherent challenges of policing large areas. At the same time, however, the rural crime debate also can consciously or subconsciously invoke racist fears and stereotypes about Indigenous people as dangerous and likely to steal and/or engage in violence. Such debates ignore that Indigenous people are much more likely than non-Indigenous people to be crime victims including of the most serious crimes.

Some of Stanley’s supporters echoed themes which have been presented in American “stand your ground” expansions of self-defence and gun rights as well as in the more moderate changes the Harper Conservative government made to the defence of property, self-defence, and gun laws. Prime Minister Harper’s comments during the 2015 election campaign, about rural property owners using guns for their own safety, are also relevant. In turn, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks about “doing better,” made immediately after the Stanley verdict, were equally as controversial and polarizing. The Stanley/Boushie case received significant attention, in part, because it reflected so many of these milder but still significant Canadian versions of “red” and “blue” state political polarization seen in the US. 

A criminal trial is inherently polarizing without the added challenges of social and political polarization and the frequently different world views of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people about justice. The challenges are great but we must use our reason, empathy, knowledge of history and current realities, compassion, and respect to help us overcome polarization. We must try to find common ground when it is available and respect differences where they exist. It is in this spirit that I seek to better understand the Stanley case.

Excerpted with permission from Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice by Kent Roach, 2019, McGill-Queen's University Press.

About the Prize

Established in honour of the outspoken and popular MP from Windsor, Ontario, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing is awarded annually for an exceptional book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers. Sponsored by CN, the prize is awarded annually at the Politics and the Pen gala in Ottawa. The 2019 winner will be announced on September 23rd, 2020.

2019 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize

More Excerpts


On the Samara BlBlog logo representing the letter 'o'g