Advancing justice
Advancing justice
Jul 20, 2021
Understanding the impact of racism, colonialism, and poverty on Canada’s criminal justice system
Play • 36 min

To begin our series on human rights, poverty, racism, and the criminal justice system in Canada, we're pleased to welcome Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. Akwasi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto and a Senior Fellow at Massey College. He holds Affiliate Scientist status at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and serves as Director of Research for the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty. Akwasi’s work examines the intersections of race, crime, and criminal justice with a particular focus on the area of policing.

In this podcast, Akwasi explores the historical roots of racism in the criminal justice system. In particular, he talks about how racism and colonialism have contributed to the social and economic inequalities and discrimination experienced by Indigenous, Black, and racialized communities in Canada, and in turn shaped their interactions with the criminal justice system.

Please note that in the following conversation, Akwasi uses the term “our” when referring to Indigenous and Black communities. This use is not intended to indicate possession. Rather, the term should be understood within the context of community membership.

You find an edited transcript of the conversation, other contributions to the series, and links to resources on the Maytree website at

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