First Nations Communities at Risk And in Crisis: Justice and Security

  • Wanda D. McCaslin University of Saskatchewan
  • Yvonne Boyer University of Ottawa
Keywords: Colonialism, decolonization, healing, circles, relationships


This paper argues that colonialism is far too often overlooked or dismissed in designing security and justice remedies in First Nation communities. Yet, as a process of domination, colonialism has proven destructive to the peoples of the world who have suffered colonization. For First Nations peoples in Canada, the colonial regime has applied pressure against their cultures, practices and traditions. In naming colonialism as a major and central source of harms, models for the future must address systemic structures of colonialism. A decolonizing approach is highly challenging both for the individuals who take these steps and for the communities who undertake collective transformations. Healing means setting out on un-walked paths to decolonization. The paper’s framework starts with examining the current stressors for First Nation  communities at risk or in crisis. Reviewing the currently published findings on justice and security related stressors, this research paper looks closely at: on-research health, education, poverty reduction and social assistance, child welfare, youth gang issues, policing services, crime rates, and safety of health workers. The research finds that Aboriginal traditions and approaches to health, healing, knowing, and doing can exist within other institutions and frameworks, to help alleviate community stressors. The authors of this study outline five decolonizing recommendations for ways to move forward in building models for the future; then, provides practical advice on how to build preventive and proactive community plans, support community capacity and infrastructure, build relationships, and model positive development.