The Mass Incarceration of Indigenous Women in Canada: A Colonial Tactic of Control and Assimilation

  • Olga MarquesEmail author
  • Lisa Monchalin
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Indigeneity and Criminal Justice book series (PSREICJ)


Indigenous women in Canada are imprisoned at rates that have surpassed Indigenous men, and these numbers continue to grow. This mass imprisonment is due to the continued paternalistic assault on Indigenous women—perpetrated and fuelled by the colonial state—that has been ongoing since the initial arrival of the colonizers. Indigenous women have historically and continually been seen as a threat by the colonizers due to their power and prominence held in their communities. Due to their central roles in communities, Indigenous women have been a target of the colonial agenda to eliminate Indigenous presence. The criminal justice system in Canada became one of the major apparatuses set up to assimilate and control Indigenous presence. This mass imprisonment of Indigenous women is ongoing genocide and cannot be understood outside of the context of the colonial and necropolitical agenda. Prisons represent the epitome of the colonial apparatus which has continually tried to dismantle Indigenous peoples, communities, and families. Yet despite these genocidal colonial tactics, Indigenous women remain, which serves to show their strength and resilience.


Indigenous women Mass imprisonment Necropolitics Colonial apparatus Indigenous resilience 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ontario Tech UniversityOshawaCanada
  2. 2.Kwantlen Polytechnic UniversitySurreyCanada

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