Senator says Conservatives’ bail reform bill will work against Indigenous women

Independent Sen. Kim Pate, a long-time advocate for Indigenous women locked away in Canada’s prisons, says a proposed Conservative law on how to reform the bail system in Canada will disproportionately affect Indigenous women.

“We know that when they’re trying to escape violence if they actually do it without grabbing something to help protect themselves, they’re more likely to end up dead quite frankly than they are to get away,” Pate said on the latest edition of Nation to Nation.

“And so, it means that a woman in that situation might automatically be denied bail, which seems like the absolute opposite of what we would like to see happen.”

Pate is talking about Bill C-313, which was tabled in the House of Commons by Conservative MP Franck Caputo, which targets stricter bail reform.

Talk of reform comes after Randall McKenzie is charged with the murder of an OPP Const. Greg Pierzchala. McKenzie was on bail at the time.

But Pate is the driving force in pushing for the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences and automatic pardons.

Her proposed Bill S-212 is currently going through the Senate.  Its aim is to address systemic racism, inequality and the inaccessibility of the criminal record system.

Indigenous education

Indigenous Education is the focus of another study – this time at the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

Its first two witnesses this week were Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Cassidy Caron, president of the Metis National Council. They provided their views of what the situation looks like in their communities.

Caron told Nation to Nation that basic data for Métis students across the country is not available.

“Even simple desegregated data about how many Métis students are within each school, right now it’s based on self-identification, we know that self-identification of metis students is a challenge,” she said.

“One is that no self-identification can be done just by checking a box, we don’t know for sure if that’s a verifiably, registered Métis citizen recognized by our government.

“As well, we might be missing some of the students because parents or students may not want to self-identify their students or children within those classrooms because of stigmatization.”

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