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Unequal Justice: Aboriginals caught in the justice system trap

Aboriginal men and especially women are overrepresented in Ontario jails, often after minor crimes lead to deeper trouble. A number of programs including special courts are trying to help.

Jill Buckshot, a former Miss Algonquin Nation, stole steaks from an Ottawa grocery store and sold them to support her addiction.
Jill Buckshot, a former Miss Algonquin Nation, stole steaks from an Ottawa grocery store and sold them to support her addictio

As Jill Buckshot describes the addiction that helped put her in prison, her words sometimes slur together over the phone, so that she has to spell out “dope sick” and “Dilaudid.”

“Dope sick” refers to the violent physical reaction that occurs when an addict goes a day without drugs. The second term is the narcotic she would steal for.

Buckshot, who became addicted at 25 after having surgery and taking a prescribed narcotic for the pain, would steal steaks from an Ottawa grocery store by hiding them under large packages of toilet paper. Then she’d sell them for half-price.

The thefts kicked off a cycle of incarceration, a revolving door that spun her in and out of jail every two weeks one summer.

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