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On Social Justice, Social Work and the Law: Responding to a Classroom Discussion

The spatiality of violence is related to identity and justice (Razack, 2006). This reality asks that an intersectional lens is applied to discourses in law for just decisions to be made regarding people with marginalized identities. I had not thought of violence as a geography until reading Razack’s paper on ‘The Murder of Pamela George' telling the story of an Indigenous woman from the Saulteaux nation, who was murdered by two young White men in a case clearly displaying the racism of the legal justice system.  I began to think that space can be related to physical geography, but that history and our present bodies are also a type of physical geography. Chan and Chunn refer to “spaces of racialized poverty” in their writing, where White people can move with safety and entitlement through these spaces and can easily retreat to their White suburbias once they take what they want (Chan & Chunn, 2014). This fact had me reflecting on how colonization and the privilege of White people infiltrates spaces, including land and people’s bodies without consent.


         I believe a prime example of this relationship is the creation of man camps on unceded Indigenous territory, and the risk of violence this brings Indigenous women at the hands of White men. We see here the relationship between White male entitlement to the land and to Indigenous women’s bodies through colonization, where Indigenous women’s bodies can be seen as reflections of the land. Fort St. James has shown a 38 percent increase in reported sexual assaults in one industrial project’s first year following the creation of a man camp in the area (Unist’ot’en Camp, 2019). Yet, the creation of man camps and the violence they have been proven to create is not criminalized under Canadian law. Although I knew there was bias and discrimination embedded in the legal system, the extent of it is actually an infringement on human and equality rights. Who will hold the “justice” system accountable for the violence they create and the crimes they commit?


Chan, W. & Chunn, D. (2014) Chapter 2 “Intersectionality, Crime and criminal justice” in Racialization, Crime and Criminal Justice in Canada.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 27-38.


Razack, S. (2000). Gendered Racial Violence and Spacialized Justice: The Murder of Pamela George. Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 15(2), pp. 91-130.


The Unist’ot’en Camp (2019). Unist’ot’en Do Not Consent To Man Camps Increasing Violence Against Our Women. Retrieved from https://unistoten.camp/category/blog/page/2/


Finn, J. (2010). Mapping Segregation. Retrieved from https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=5ccb9580d7a9489c918d57ab04af7296