Housing and Socio-Economic Marginalization

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Themes: Housing/Access to Housing; Social Determinants of Health; Poverty; Colonialism; Incarceration; Criminal Justice System; Release/Aftercare Planning

Acknowledgement: This research document was reviewed by Professor Sarah Buhler, Professor at the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan. Professor Buhler’s research background and areas of expertise concern access to justice, legal ethics and the legal profession, and legal education/ clinical legal education. The research document was reviewed for comprehensiveness and accuracy to ensure quality and validity of the research. The information in this document is current as of September 2023.

Executive Summary: Homelessness, housing insecurity, and socio-economic marginalization are factors with complex links to the criminal justice system, the causation of crime, and the victimization of marginalized peoples. In Canada, Indigenous peoples experience housing insecurity, homelessness, and the effects of socio-economic marginalization at a scale far greater than non-Indigenous populations. This is due to a number of reasons, such as historical and ongoing discrimination, system-oriented violence, unequitable federal and provincial funding models for Indigenous communities, and continued land and territorial dispossession. This research summary on Housing and Socio-Economic Marginalization explores the complex, interwoven variables that have historically and currently effect Indigenous peoples and their communities. It is through this research that scholars are able to draw connections between settler colonialism and the current situations that many incarcerated  or formerly incarcerated persons experience day-to-day.  

Purpose of the document: What are "Systemic and Background Factors" and how are they relevant to the Gladue Principles? Systemic and background factors (also known as Gladue Factors) are the unique experiences, circumstances, and challenges that an Indigenous person, their family, community, or Nation has faced. They relate to the harmful effects of colonialism and discrimination, past and present. Systemic and Background factors must be considered in a Gladue analysis (e.g. the direct and intergenerational impacts of residential school and the Sixties Scoop, among others). These factors are broader circumstances known to contribute to the over-incarceration of Indigenous persons in particular, as well as those that figure prominently in the causation of crime more generally. The purpose of this Research Summary is to help provide social context and background information for judges, lawyers, and Gladue report writers to better unpack the complex ways systemic discrimination and settler colonialism can impact an Indigenous person’s life. As well, these summaries will provide evidence-based research that speak to alternatives to incarceration, restorative options, and ways to support an individual through healing, aftercare, and release planning. While these summaries cannot replace the need for case-specific information about Indigenous individuals or the contemporary dynamics within their families and Nations, they can be used to craft more effective submissions and reports that better tie those case-specific details to the broader social context surrounding Indigenous overincarceration. 

Access a copy of the Housing and Socio-Economic Marginalization Summary by downloading the PDF attached at the top of this entry