When it gets Personal: Conflicts between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Peoples, and Equal Protection Under the Law. Lessons From the Colten Boushie and Jon Styres Cases
Presented by Professor Paul Baxter who has been teaching in the Criminology program at York since 2005, and is currently the co-ordinator of the program.
Is equal protection under the law a function of white privilege? Does equal protection under the law privilege settlers over Indigenous Peoples? Our preconceptions about conflicts between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Peoples are often confined to the “big issues”, such as large protests over land claims or natural resources. These conflicts, such as the Standing Rock or Oka protests, usually occur in public spaces and they involve disputes between large groups of people in conflict with institutional agents such as the police or the military. These sorts of conflicts are often very impersonal. The “band” or the “First Nation” takes the place of individual protesters, while “the police” or “the military” takes the place of individual settlers.
The recent cases of the shooting deaths of Colton Boushie and Jon Styres are two important examples of the ways injustice towards Indigenous Peoples is perpetuated at the personal level. These cases also represent what may be hypothesized to be a significant shift in our legal culture around our rights to self-defence and defence of property.
This talk seeks to outline some of these issues, and it maps out the beginning of a research program into the implications of what one might call the legal resolutions to “micro-conflicts” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.