Carceral Recognition and the Colonial Present at the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge
Glen Coulthard’s 2014 book, Red Skin, White Masks is a much needed critique of the Canadian state’s increasing use of colonial recognition politics. I suggest that Coulthard’s approach is also well-attuned to interrogate current forms of prison reform in Canada. At stake is the possibility that unchecked recognition-based policies in Correctional Service of Canada’s (CSC) mandate – such as the utilization of ‘traditional healing’ in penal programming and the construction of prisons designed solely for Indigenous inmates –undermine the needs of Indigenous people in prison, while propagating settler colonialism through the often invisible mechanisms of the prison system. By analyzing the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge federal prison for Indigenous women, in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, I posit the emergence of a carceral recognition politics in Canadian prisons: a strategy whereby the penal system parades its willingness to accommodate Indigenous difference in order to reconcile Indigenous peoples with the authority of the State – often through the implementation of colonial teleologies towards a supposedly non-colonial present – while simultaneously developing a durable and comprehensive prison system for the more effective incarceration of federally sentenced Indigenous women.
Indigenous incarceration; colonial recognition; temporality; carceral society; reconciliation