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TAN ET AL.
reintegration. Despite programming like Healing Lodges
and the Mother-Child Programs that have explicit aims
of enhanced reintegration for Indigenous Peoples and
mothers, these programs exist within the landscape of a
carceral justice system in which Indigenous Peoples are
overrepresented.
Accordingly, these programs fail to reinstate or uphold
self-governance systems and structures conducive to
the needs of Indigenous women with respect to justice,
healing, and family reunification. Barriers take different
forms, all of which are compounded by anti-Indigenous
racism and systemic violence against Indigenous women
and girls, thereby continuing the colonial course of family
separation and incarceration for Indigenous Peoples.
A Vision for the Future
Our examination of resources available to Indigenous
mothers and mother figures who are impacted by the criminal
justice system reveals barriers to accessing culturally
appropriate services-specifically, those that are
Indigenous-led and serve Indigenous mothers and mother
figures. We are also cognizant of the systemic racism
embedded in policies that continue to produce barriers for
Indigenous mothers and mother figures who are involved
with the criminal justice system. We further recognize the
need to use a gender-inclusive lens that gives space and
power to the narratives of Two-Spirit parents.
There continue to be limited community-based social
supports that foster culturally safe spaces for positive
parenting and healing (Barrett et al., 2010; Martin &
Walia, 2019; National Inquiry, 2019b). In recognition
of the intergenerational and intragenerational effects of
racist government policies, supports must also especially
address the needs of Indigenous men, siblings,
and extended relations for community healing (Martin
& Walia, 2019; National Inquiry, 2019b).
Currently, a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous
researchers and advocates have joined together by their
shared commitment to address justice-related inequities
faced by Indigenous mothers, mother figures, and TwoSpirit
parents involved with the criminal justice systems.
As members of the project team, we notice gaps in
research and evidence specific to Indigenous mothers
and mother figures, despite the overrepresentation of
Indigenous women in the criminal justice system. We
also notice the very limited research and discourse
about the lived experiences of Two-Spirit parents, who
often face oppression caused by homophobia and transphobia
(Martin & Walia, 2019).
We argue that it is vital to have sufficient and up-todate
research data on topics pertaining to both Indigenous
mothers and Two-Spirit parents because this is used as
evidence to inform influential policy and funding decisions
(Rainie et al., 2019; Walter & Carroll, 2020). Our
first project to address these gaps, Kijibashik: Turn it
Around: Indigenous Women's Stories on Motherhood
and Incarceration, highlights the lived experiences and
perspectives of Indigenous mothers, mother figures, and
Two-Spirit parents who have been in contact with the
criminal justice system in Ontario.
For our team's second project, Kijibashik Engaging in
Early Partnerships, we center relationship building to
best understand the organizational views of community
agencies and service providers in what constitutes the
current barriers of reintegration programs as well as
visioning for future policies and supports. We hope to
expand our relationships with criminal justice-involved
advocates and organizations across Canada to account
for the diversity of experiences and perspectives.
Through both projects, we aim to comprehensively
describe the circumstances of individuals and community
healing processes to provide recommendations for
policy, practice, and future research.
The voices and experiences of previously incarcerated
Indigenous women, mother figures, and Two-Spirit parents
and their connection with their children, families,
and communities are critical areas to bring to the forefront
to inform policies and practices informing supports
and resources. We reaffirm the experiences of First
Nations, Inuit, and MeĀ“tis women that includes Two-Spirit
people, who are distinct and culturally significant within
Canada where they are confronted with systemic racism
and anti-Indigenous oppressions built within a colonial
context.
Canada remains far from fulfilling the policy promises
of the TRC's calls to action (2015) and the MMIWG's
calls to justice (National Inquiry, 2019b). Our research
team will continue to center the voices, experiences,
and dreams of Indigenous women, mother figures, and
Two-Spirit parents to develop contemporary comprehensive
evidence with which we can hold government decision
makers accountable.
Acknowledgments
We would like to acknowledge and express our gratitude
to the community members and organizations
from Thunder Bay, Kingston, and Toronto who have
kindly taken time to share their knowledge, perspectives,
and experiences that guide Kijibashik and Kijibashik
and Kijibashik Engaging in Early Partnerships (KEEP).
Authors' Contributions
S.W.Y.T. presented the idea and was the lead writer. K.L.
provided supervision and mentorship and contributed to
the design of the final drafts. A.M.-P., J.F., and F.I.M.
provided critical feedback and helped shape the article.
K.L., A.M.-P., J.F., F.I.M., and T.B. all contributed
to the design, planning, and implementation of the acknowledged
projects. G.B.T., T.B., and B.S. assisted
with editing.

Journal of Correctional Health Care - April 2023

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