INDIGENOUS DEATHS IN CUSTODY have long told a story of alcoholism and mental illness, suggesting a fundamental incapacity of Canada’s Indigenous populations to survive and prosper in modern society. In Dying from Improvement Sherene H. Razack tells a different story, one of colonial aggression which constructs the state as a body that secures its own legitimacy through encounters with Indigenous bodies. Running parallel to this examination is a question for all Canadians: In the face of police aggression and the profound indifference that underlies so many Indigenous deaths in custody, “why do we fail to care?”2 By examining inquests and inquiries into Indigenous deaths in custody in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, the author shines a light on the oft-subverted discussion of the racial animus that colours police interaction with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Razack is primarily concerned with challenging the Canadian public discourse that defines Indigenous deaths in custody—the story of a group of people unfit for modern life who exist somewhere “between life and death,” as prisoners of their own dysfunction and dependency.3The book is divided into six chapters. Each chapter examines the death of a particular person or group, and state response to the associated tragedy, running alongside an exploration of what the author believes lies beneath the surface.
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"Book Note: Dying From Improvement: Inquests And Inquiries Into Indigenous Deaths In Custody, by Sherene H. Razack."
Osgoode Hall Law Journal