Leah Ballantyne, LLB LLM is from the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation in Pukatawagan, Manitoba.  The community is signatory to Treaty 6 in the northern boreal forest.  Leah is the first and only member of her community to become a lawyer and she follows a long line of both elected and hereditary leadership from her Nation.

Leah graduated from UBC faculty of law in 2005 and earned her Masters-in-law (LLM) in international law and governance in 2017 as class valedictorian at the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Law.  Leah is a member of the law societies of both Manitoba and British Columbia.

Ms. Ballantyne serves grassroots leaders, Chiefs and other First Nation-led organizations in upholding treaty and inherent rights. Currently, Leah provides her time to the Lower Fraser Fishery Alliance for the RELAW project – “Revitalizing Indigenous Land, Air and Water.” LFFA RELAW produced a legal synthesis report aimed at Indigenous law-based fish habitat restoration strategies for the Lower Fraser.  The work is created in collaboration with the RELAW team of Relawyers at the West Coast Environmental Law Foundation.  Leah also provides her expertise to a C-92 Child Welfare Law reform project, and recently to residential site school reclamation and memorialization work.  She is currently an active board member with the First Nation Health Authority and the Canadian Mountain Network.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has hired Leah to edit this textbook to ensure that culturally appropriate and safe language is used when involving Indigenous peoples and pedagogy.


I have been a faculty member of the Criminology department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University since 2004.  I studied at Simon Fraser University, where I earned by PhD in 2010. But I did not enter SFU with the intention of pursuing a career in criminology or criminal justice. In fact, it was during my first-year experience enrolled in courses in the social sciences where topics like human rights and social justice were introduced, and this is when I developed a keen interest in this field of study. It was also my experience being racially profiled while travelling across the U.S./Canada border, which occurred for the first time during my 2nd year at SFU, that really lead to my decision to pursue my degrees in criminology.  As it turns out, flying while Arab has proven to be quite challenging.  I expand on these experiences in the vignette at the start of the Race and Racism chapter of this textbook, and I touch on these experiences at the start of each term with my students, as I feel stories and lived experience are valuable ways to make these issues relevant in the classroom.

I grew up in a low-income family in Port Coquitlam, B.C., not far from the Pickton farm.  I was one of the only 3 people of colour in my elementary school (my brother was one of them).  I always felt like I had to fight to get through challenges in life, and have not been afforded the privileges that many of my classmates enjoyed.  Developing a text that was easily accessible to students trying to pave their own path, some with very little support and resources, was really a dream come true for me.  While my own experiences of racism and marginalization differ significantly from the experiences of Indigenous peoples of Canada, my background has certainly heightened my sensitivity around these complex issues and my appreciation for the need for culturally sensitive and trauma-informed approaches to teaching and learning.

I am a faculty member and current Co-Chair of the Criminology Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. My research is in the areas of surveillance, morality, public criminology, and racism, and my work appears in journals such as Media, Culture and Society, Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Canadian Journal of Sociology.

I was born and raised in the town of Northampton in the UK. My undergraduate career began in a film studies program, but I quickly took an interest in media and sociology electives. After graduating, I taught English in Japan where I met my Canadian partner and made plans to pursue sociology for my graduate studies in Canada. I consider myself very fortunate to live and work as a settler in B.C. I take great inspiration from the determination of our students at KPU, many of whom overcome considerable challenges on their journey to achieving their education goals. I believe that open education resources like this one are a crucial component of education equity.


All human lives are both constrained and enabled by social context. My own family history is situated within the Maritimes of Canada. I was born in Moncton, New Brunswick, on the territory of Mi’kma’ki. My parents, Ron and Nancy Ashley, lived their entire lives in New Brunswick, close to where their ancestors had settled generations before. My maternal grandfather’s ancestors migrated from Ireland to New Brunswick in 1830. My maternal grandmother’s family are Acadians who arrived at Fort St. John, Acadia, in 1657. My paternal grandparents’ ancestors are English Loyalists who settled in what is today southwestern New Brunswick, on the territory of the Passamaquoddy and Wolastoqiyik people, after the American Revolution.

As I young man I benefited from the privilege that came from being an English speaking, white settler. I attended Mount Allison University, a school that many members of my family had already attended. I don’t recall ever making a choice to go to university; it was simply always expected given our family’s social position. Despite this privilege, Atlantic Canada is a poor region, and after graduation I found it hard to find work, so like many young people I headed west in search of economic opportunities. I enrolled in Simon Fraser University for my graduate studies, where I completed my Master of Arts and PhD. I have remained in British Columbia ever since, settling on the unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueum, Stó:lō, Stz’uminus, and Qayqayt nations.

Social context and history are important to understanding anyone’s background.  I am originally from Bismarck, North Dakota in the United States.  My ancestors arrived in the United States in the early 1900s and came from a variety of European countries including Germany, Russia, Norway, and Sweden.  Many of my ancestors were farmers and were granted access to land through the Homestead Act—an option that was unavailable to the Dakota, Lakota, Arikara, Assiniboine, Chippewa, Hidatsa, and Mandan tribes of Indigenous people who were originally living in Dakota Territory. This is another example of how governments in the United States (through the Dawes Act and the Bureau of Indian Affairs) and Canada (through the Indian Act) used the law to ensure that European settlers would have access to opportunities to be successful.  I have benefited greatly throughout my life from this unfair situation.  I also am aware that many more educational and economic opportunities were afforded to me due to my status as a White male and because of the institutional racism that is present in North American society.

My name is Gail Scott Anderson, and my background is Celtic. I was conceived in India, where my father worked at the time, and born in the north of England to a Scottish father and North Yorkshire mother of Scottish origins. Much of my early life was spent in the former Yugoslavia, where, again, my father worked. I grew up in Yorkshire, which is originally Celtic territory, but colonized and conquered many times by a variety of invaders over the millennia, to produce what is England today. My father was overseas most of my childhood, but I had a privileged, stable, and happy home. I was the first in my family to go to university.

I came to Canada for graduate school, coming to Simon Fraser University, where I work today, on the unceded traditional, ancestral, and occupied lands of the Coast Salish Peoples including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and Kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) Nations. I am grateful to live on the unceded traditional, ancestral, and occupied lands of the Kwantlen, Sto:lo and WSÁNEĆ Nations.

I am a biologist, specifically an entomologist, and always wanted to do something useful with my science. So, I became a forensic entomologist, working on homicide, animal cruelty and poaching cases. When I moved to the School of Criminology from the Department of Biological Sciences, I was interested to see how little biology was considered in criminology, despite all the new and exciting research being conducted on the biology of criminal behaviour. I developed a course and later a book (now in its 2nd edition) on biological influences on criminal behaviour to introduce my students to the basic biological underpinnings of behaviour so they could understand the relatively new field of biosocial criminology. I feel that this is a very hopeful area of criminology as many biological risk factors can be better managed once we understand them. As well, studying biological factors such as epigenetic effects help us comprehend why the abuses of residential schools and other forms of systemic discrimination not only impact the generation abused but also produce biological effects on future generations, hopefully allowing us to understand and move forward.

I fully recognize the white privileges and benefits of the circumstances of my birth and upbringing and the impossibility of seeing the world from others’ perspectives. We all have very different experiences and ways of understanding, and scientific thought, as a way of understanding the natural world, is one of those. Biological approaches are one of many different ways of attempting to understand criminogenic behaviour and there are many others, such as Indigenous approaches, which, although not covered in this chapter, are no less valid.

I am Metis on my father’s side, with my ancestors originating from the Red River area, and European on my mother’s side. I am a mother of three children who are also Cherokee/Muscogee on their father’s side. I am working hard to raise my family with a proud and rich sense of cultural identity, as I believe it is essential to healing from intergenerational trauma. I have worked in a clinical capacity with vulnerable children, youth, adults, and families for over 20 years, and supported a number of young people as they have interacted with the criminal justice system. Through this work, I have come to believe that the criminalization of mental health and addictions only further stigmatizes and entrenches our most vulnerable, and makes access to healing more difficult for all. My heart and life’s work are centered around promoting trauma-informed policies, principles, and practices across all sectors (healthcare, policing, child services, education) so that we will see healthier individuals, families, and communities able to thrive.

I am a white, cis-gender, middle class professional who has spent her career in the non-profit sector, including frontline and administrative work in crisis intervention and suicide prevention. I am committed to community-based crisis and mental health response, and have recently submitted proposals to BC’s Special Parliamentary Committee on Police Act Reform advocating for a crisis care continuum to drastically reduce the need for police response to mental health crisis situations.

We begin this chapter by acknowledging our own positions as authors and presenters of this criminological perspective. As the first of two co-authors of this chapter, it is not lost on me as a white male from the United States, educated mainly by scholars that look similar to me, that I am writing a chapter that aims to engage in a meaningful consideration of an Indigenous[1] and decolonized approach to the study of criminological theory. I grew up in a majority white, middle-class neighbourhood that rarely faced exposure to alternative views let alone challenges to that system. Consistent with the theoretical orientation of this chapter, I attempted to expand my worldview by immersing myself and learning from others at the culturally diverse University of Maryland, where I earned a Bachelor’s, MA, and PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice. It was at University where I experienced my first “othering” experience as my identity grew to include being a member of the LGBT community. These experiences and the privileges afforded by my ability to attend University have informed me and enabled me to research the role that groups, peers, and co-offenders play in facilitating criminal behaviour. I now work at Simon Fraser University on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

  1. Indigenous identity is a colonial construct that “describes… thousands of distinct societies with their own names, governments, territories, languages, worldviews, and political organizations” (De Finney, 2017, p. 11), from hundreds of Nations, peoples, and/or communities. We use the term Indigenous Peoples—out of recognition of the many Nations, peoples, and communities that existed (and still exist) as sovereign Nations prior to European contact. For further explanation see this video.

As the second co-author, I am a current PhD student and my research focuses on the interconnection between belonging and justice. I grew up in Burnaby, B.C., visiting my other home (Haida Gwaii) every summer. I grappled to find my place in this world amongst racism, stereotypes, colonialism, educational streaming, and micro-aggressions. I have often felt as though I was of two worlds – in terms of my ancestry (Haida, Ojibwe, British & Irish), my physical location (the Lower Mainland & Haida Gwaii), and general sense of self. I have come to understand that education is powerful, and it feeds resistance, revitalization, decolonization, and resurgence. Learning about the ongoing impacts of colonialism, genocide, racism, and the complicity of the colonial state in perpetuating harm against Indigenous peoples through its institutions has fueled my desire to seek justice.

My name is Rochelle Stevenson, and I identify as a white, heterosexual, cisgender woman. I currently live in Kamloops, BC, on the lands of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc within Secwépemc’ulucw, the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwépemc peoples. I am an uninvited guest in their territory, and I am grateful for the hospitality of the Secwépemc people as I live, work, and learn on their lands. I share my life with my partner, and we are parents to a wonderful Standard Poodle and two adorable cats.

I was born and raised in Oakville, Ontario. My parents were both Canadian-born, as were my grandparents. My great-grandparents immigrated to Canada from Ireland and France, settling in Quebec and Ontario. Despite the fact that neither of my parents had attended university, we enjoyed a great deal of financial and social privilege. It was not until returning to university as a mature student to pursue my degree in Criminology that I truly realized the extent of that privilege. Confronting my privilege was very uncomfortable, but critical to my growth as a scholar and a person. My early studies opened my eyes to the stark contrasts in experience, comparing my own experiences of private ski clubs and private schools to reading about women who didn’t leave abusive relationships because they had no resources. More than once I questioned whether I was in the right space, but my desire to effect change was the driving force to continue.

My research is firmly centred in a feminist space with its anti-oppression framework, paired with the non-speciesism of the human-animal bond. My work over the past 15 years has centred on the intersection of intimate partner violence and animal mistreatment, recognizing that companion animals are family members too, and domestic violence can include abuse towards animals in the home. My drive for change includes advocating for pet-friendly spaces, such as domestic violence shelters and housing, so that the family (animals included) can remain together while healing from violence. Though this work is emotionally challenging (even heartbreaking) at times, and I consistently wrestle with my own position of relative privilege, my furry family members are my inspiration to keep moving forward to create a safe and inclusive society.

My name is Jennifer Kusz, and I am white, heterosexual, settler. My background is English/Scottish and Italian. My father was RCMP for 31 years, and as a child we moved around B.C. a lot. I spent time living in small communities, including Port Hardy, Masset and then back to Vancouver Island as a young adult. My mother worked as a 911 operator, and then various bookkeeping jobs. I grew up believing we were middle class, but relative to the many people we were living alongside we lived a privileged life. There was always food on our table, we were able to plan for family vacations to Disneyland and Hawaii, and when we lived in what the RCMP defined as remote communities, there was funding available for us to travel. Neither of my parents completed university and being able to pay for both their daughters to attend university was an important goal for them. My sister and I went to university straight out of high school and graduated with our undergraduate degrees without any student debt, thanks to the generosity and privilege bestowed upon us by our parents. Currently, I live with my partner, three children, five cats and a dog. We live, work, teach, and learn on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded Indigenous territories of the Snuneymuxw, Quw’utsun and Tla’Amin peoples.

I am a feminist and a criminologist. I have spent more than 10 years researching and supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence. My line of work and research intersects with the intergenerational violence that Indigenous peoples have experienced for centuries. Over time, my understanding of the harms has broadened to consider how Indigenous people, particularly women, are simultaneously impacted through their experiences as women, interests with their experiences through colonization, intergenerational trauma, and systemic discrimination.

I continue to work through and unpack my own privilege, and attempt to use my power and privilege to educate students, colleagues, family and friends about privilege, power, racism, and discrimination. I will continue to be an ally with those who are in positions of less power and privilege than I.

I am a queer cisgender woman of English, French, Irish, and other mixed European descent. I grew up on unceded, ancestral, and traditional Lheidli T’enneh territories and currently live on unceded, ancestral, and traditional Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), Kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Stó:lō territories.

It took me some time to find my way through an undergraduate degree including stops at BCIT, Douglas College, and Simon Fraser University. Gender studies classes at Douglas College were the first to open up my views of patriarchy and how my positionality shapes my experiences and understandings of the world I occupy. These and subsequent classes pushed me to think critically about the harms of feminist approaches that are exclusionary and narrowly focused on cisgender White women perspectives. My most valued learnings throughout graduate studies at Concordia University and Carleton University were call ins, collaboration, and actions with communities of folks engaged in drug policy, prison abolition, and anti-capitalist activism. I am one of the first in my family to attend a post-secondary institution.

My name is Sheri Fabian and I identify as a white, heterosexual, settler woman. I now live in Coquitlam, BC on the unceded traditional, ancestral, and occupied lands of the Coast Salish peoples including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, Səl̓ílwətaɬ, and Kʷikʷəƛ̓əm Nations. I acknowledge these are stolen lands, the harms and mistakes of the past and present, and I dedicate myself to moving forward as an accomplice with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

My paternal grandparents immigrated from Scotland and Ireland, and my maternal grandfather was Slovakian, born in what was then Czechoslovakia, immigrating to Canada alone at 14. My maternal grandmother was born in Saskatchewan and she and my grandfather relocated to Kelowna, in the interior of BC. My father was born in Salmon Arm, BC, my mother was born in Kelowna, as were I and my brother and sister.  Growing up, I was one of very few my age whose parents were born in BC, and it was even more unlikely that my classmates’ grandparents were born in Canada, let alone BC. My husband and I have one daughter who lives in Edmonton, and we are about to be first-time grandparents. I live with my husband and four cats.

I moved Vancouver in 1980 to attend UBC, completing a BA in English and Sociology as a first generation university graduate. I’ve remained in the greater Vancouver area since then and I am now a University Lecturer in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. I only began to understand my own privilege when I attended university. I became more aware of that privilege as I spent 15 years validating residential school survivor claims. That research helped me better understand the colonial project of the Canadian government that continues to harm Indigenous peoples today. That work continues to shape who I am, my relationships and interactions with others, and how I teach. One of my greatest joys is helping students see their own potential, paying forward the very gift my mentors gave to me.

I am a non-Indigenous, white settler scholar of mixed European and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, born and currently residing on traditional territories of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Dakota, Dene, Métis, and Oji-Cree Nations in what is now Winnipeg, Canada. At the University of Winnipeg where I teach courses in criminology and criminal justice, formal land acknowledgements usually begin by recognizing that this area is within Treaty 1 Territory—the first of several numbered treaties between British colonizers and Indigenous peoples in what is now western Canada. Although this land was taken from Indigenous peoples using the legal framework of a treaty, those who live here today are haunted by the ghosts of colonialism. My childhood home was located two blocks from the former Assiniboia Residential School, which operated from 1958 to 1973. By the time I was old enough to notice, it was long abandoned, boarded up and left for bored teenagers to break into at night. I’m still haunted by the memory of the dusty rooms, rusty metal bedframes, and darkened hallways left behind as traces of a genocide that took place right in my own backyard. Growing up in Winnipeg, I never gave clean, plentiful drinking water much thought. However, years later I discovered that the city’s water is sourced from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation via an aqueduct connecting the city to a small Indigenous community in Northwestern Ontario. In order to ensure white settlers had clean water, this Indigenous community was forced to move to an island that was cut off from the mainland without all-weather road access for one hundred years until the completion of “Freedom Road” in 2019. Ironically, the community endured for more than 25 years under a boil water advisory while we enjoyed clean, plentiful drinking water. I am haunted by the colonial foundations of this nation and this city, which have brought me and my settler ancestors great benefit while displacing, marginalizing and criminalizing Indigenous people. This chapter is a small reflection of my commitment to reconciliation and reckoning with colonialism, and I hope it demonstrates that cultural criminology can play a role in exposing and critiquing the colonial injustices that continue today.

I am a white male who hails originally from the United Kingdom, a key historical centre of colonial and imperial power in relation to what we now call North America and across the globe. When I was 14, my family moved to northern British Columbia, on the territory of the Lheidli T’enneh people, where I witnessed firsthand the effects of colonialism and systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples. My own privilege was made more apparent to me upon attending university, where the under-representation of Indigenous peoples was a striking reality. After completing a law degree at Osgoode Hall in Ontario, I worked in the non-profit environmental sector. Here, it was brought home how so much of the conflict, disrespect and injustice visited upon Indigenous peoples is rooted in environmental exploitation and how Indigenous peoples were so often on the frontlines of resisting that harm and defending their (often unceded) territory. Later in life, I went back to school to complete a Ph.D. in Criminology at Simon Fraser University, which was informed by this experience. I strive to be alive to and honour such struggles and to forward a green criminological praxis that hopefully can play a positive role in the much bigger process of reconciliation.

I am a white male born in the Cowichan Valley where I was raised by parents who immigrated from England to Canada to work as school teachers. The intersection of privilege that I occupy became apparent to me when I was raising my daughter as a full-time single parent on a low income. I saw the differences between my ability to navigate social welfare systems and the obstacles that other young single parents faced. While we had similar economic situations, I realized that I had what I later learned in post-secondary was called “cultural capital.” That is, my middle-class upbringing enabled me to express myself in ways that could be understood by workers within the social welfare system. I still see frequent occurrences of white privilege when people seem to grant me a certain kind of status, power, respect or authority that strikes me as an artefact of colonialist cultures of white supremacy. Like Greg and Rochelle, I hope to use my position of privilege to work towards transformative social change.

My name is Jordana Norgaard, and my background is primarily English and Scottish (or at least that’s what my ancestry results showed). I was born and raised on the unceded traditional, ancestral, and occupied lands of the Coast Salish Peoples including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and Kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) Nations, in Vancouver, British Columbia.  I attended Simon Fraser University to originally pursue a career as a history teacher.  However, my plans changed after I took my first criminology course.  I immediately fell in love with the discipline and knew I had to switch majors.  I eventually found myself in graduate school, earning a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology.  My research focused on transit environments, crime prevention, and victimology.  As I started to teach, I recognized that victims and/or survivors of crime were often overlooked throughout the criminal justice system.  I found myself more drawn to find ways to empower survivors of crime by doing more than teach.  I decided to leave academia and began working as a policy analyst for the provincial government in BC.  My work helps provide a voice to survivors who are most vulnerable by researching strategies and initiatives to help provide direct support to those impacted by gender-based violence, human trafficking and much more.  I recognize the immense privilege I hold as a white and educated female. I aim to write from a perspective of compassion, understanding, and respect.  I hope for all of those reading, you come away with more insight about the role victims and/or survivors hold in the criminal justice system and to show kindness towards those who bravely re-tell their experiences of victimization in hopes of making the future safer.

My name is Benjamin Roebuck, and my family history is rooted in white, settler-colonialism. My father’s British ancestors settled on Mi’kmaq lands on the east coast in the late 1700’s, and my mother immigrated from the United Kingdom with her family when she was a child. I respectfully acknowledge that I was born and raised on the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg, which includes Curve Lake First Nation, Alderville First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, and the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. Settlers renamed the Nogojiwanong area, meaning “place at the end of the rapids,” to Peterborough, and anglicized the Odenabe river to Otonabee. As an adult, I have lived and worked on the traditional unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin People. The Algonquin word adawe, meaning “to trade,” is believed to be the origin of the name Ottawa, which was used by settlers to refer to the people who hunted and traded along the Kichi Sibi, meaning “great river.” I acknowledge the pain and victimization Indigenous Peoples have experienced through policy and legislation imposed from this region by the Government of Canada. In my extended family, through adoption or marriage, I have witnessed the intergenerational harms of colonization, and the beauty and resilience of Indigenous cultures and teachings. I am grateful to Indigenous Elders, friends, and family members who have generously shared their wisdom. May I honour these teachings and partner in the work of reconciliation with humility.

Positionality refers to the belief our individual experiences in the world, our privileges and disadvantages, and our social locations (e.g., gender, social class, ethnicity) influence how we perceive, interpret, and understand the world. Making a “positionality statement” is an opportunity for me to introduce myself to you, the reader, and make visible factors that have influenced how I perceive, interpret and understand the world. This chapter challenges the dominant narrative that crime is predominately a problem of young males from the lowest socioeconomic strata. My own personal “challenge” to a dominant narrative began quite young. I was born in Canada at a time (early 1960s) when heterosexism was the norm, engaging in same-sex behaviour was a criminal offence, and when members of the LGBTQ community were labelled deviants. This kept me “in the closet,” fearful that revealing my own sexual orientation would result in rejection by my friends and family, and in a diagnosis of mentally disordered. I have benefitted from (or not been penalized for) being a white, middle class, and cisgender male. I have never been subject to racial profiling by police or been denied a job because of my skin colour. I have never had to worry about being able to pay my bills or worried about where my next meal would come from. I have never been the object of sexual discrimination or been paid less because of my gender. However, my sexuality made me an outsider, a member of a marginalized and stigmatized community. It also made me question the prevailing norms of society, and why they existed. I have brought that questioning of prevailing norms and applied it to the official definition of crime and current operation of the criminal justice system.


It is important to discuss how my positionality and privilege impact my understanding and articulation of the world. Positionality is important because it affects the way we see and interpret the world around us, and consequently, how the world sees and interprets us (Jacobson & Mustafa, 2019). To begin, my mother was born in Ardore, Reggio Calabria, Italy and my father was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Both my paternal and maternal grandparents left Southern Italy to move to Canada in the mid-to-late 1950s to provide a better life for their children. Italian emigration was fueled by dire poverty. Life in Southern Italy offered little more than hardship, exploitation, and violence. The soil was poor and malnutrition and disease were widespread.

I was born in the late 1980s and was raised in Windsor, Ontario, Canada with two older siblings (sisters). In regards to the land I inhabit, I recognize that Indigenous peoples are the modern-day descendants of the first human inhabitants of North America. I was raised in a middle-class family that placed the upmost importance on education and being financially independent. As a White privileged man, I recognize that there are inherent advantages possessed by a White person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice. I do believe that having and recognizing my White privilege is important. My White privilege exists because of historic, enduring racism and biases. And although I have family, friends, and colleagues from all walks of life, I will never experience or understand their lived experiences. I do, however, acknowledge this and I do my best in academia to shed light on these important issues when I am given the opportunity to do so.


I, Alana Marie Abramson, am of British, Romanian, Metis, and Cree descent. I had challenges during my teens that brought me in conflict with the law as a victim of violence and as an offender. On my journey, I have also experienced homelessness, foster care, and substance misuse.  The tribulations of my youth and the privilege I was born into have both facilitated my education and career and inspired my critique of the current criminal legal system. I was fortunate to meet a caring professor during my undergrad who encouraged the growth of potential I was yet aware of. She and other mentors helped me process shame and trauma from my past and cultivated my passion for creative and healing ways to address harm such as restorative, transformative justice.


I, Melissa Leanne Roberts, am of English, Welsh, and German descent. While I did not come from a wealthy family, my siblings and I were well taken care of and lived with stable housing, a two-parent household, and with all the necessities of life. We were encouraged to pursue our dreams and seek careers that are supportive and enable us to be contributing members of society.  It was during my post-secondary education that I was exposed to ideas that challenged me to question why the world is the way it is and what it ought to look like instead.  Taking a single class changed the trajectory of my life: from pursuing a graduate degree focused on restorative justice to volunteering in restorative justice, to teaching restorative justice to university students like yourselves.

We both acknowledge that we benefited directly from the unearned privileges of being white-presenting, cisgender, able-bodied and educated.  We also were both heavily influenced by a passionate professor during our undergraduate degrees. These paths, although different, led us both to incorporate the principles and values of restorative justice into our lives, relationships, and work.


I am a cis-white female who grew up in a working-class home that was strongly leftist politically. I was raised, and completed my undergrad work, in Winnipeg, Treaty One Territory and homeland of the Metis people. As an MA student and for 6 years after, I worked with a national feminist research group established after the Montreal Massacre where I examined gender-based, colonial violence. I studied political economy and sociology in Ontario, on unceded Anishinabe Algonquin territory, and I landed back on Treaty One Territory where I continue to teach, research, and work to understand the dynamics of marginalization and inequality, power and politics, ideology and subjectivity.


I am a cis-white male who grew up in Saskatchewan, including in small towns and rural areas. I was raised, and completed my undergrad work, in Saskatoon, Treaty Six Territory and part of the homeland of the Metis people. I studied sociology in Ontario, on unceded Anishinabe Algonquin territory, and I landed on Treaty One Territory where I continue to teach, research, and work to understand the dynamics of policing, surveillance, and security using qualitative and investigative research methods.



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Introduction to Criminology Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Shereen Hassan and Dan Lett, MA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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