Canada’s aboriginal women are four times as likely to be murdered than their share of the population suggests, according to a Royal Canadian Mounted Police report released today.
The report gives new details on 1,181 aboriginal women who were murdered between 1980 and 2012 or missing since 1952. Aboriginals make up 4.3 percent of the total Canadian female population, yet the 1,017 murdered aboriginal women represent 16 percent of female homicides, the report said.
Janice Armstrong, the RCMP’s deputy commissioner of contract and aboriginal policing, said at a press conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba she hopes the report “will contribute to the Canadian conversation on this very important subject.”
The total number of murdered women in this report is higher than the estimate of 327 federal homicide cases the RCMP reported to the United Nations in September.
Publication of the list may further strain relations between the ruling Conservative government and aboriginal groups, some of which have unresolved treaty claims on land rich in raw materials central to Prime Minster Stephen Harper’s C$650 billion ($598 billion) resource development plan.
“A national shame and a national tragedy” that requires a federal inquest, Cameron Alexis, spokesman for the Assembly of First Nations on justice issues, said in a statement. The AFN’s national chief Shawn Atleo quit earlier this month after criticism of his support for a government education bill.
A House of Commons Committee presented a report in March calling the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women part of a trend “saying to aboriginal people they don’t count,” and placing it alongside tragedies including the residential school system, the large-scale removal of aboriginal children from families in the 1960s and “ongoing marginalization and racism.”
The RCMP said today the 88 percent “solve rate” for homicide cases involving aboriginal women was about the same as the 89 percent rate for non-aboriginal women. The solve rate for aboriginal women working in the sex industry was 60 percent, versus 65 percent for non-aboriginal women. The report showed another 164 missing aboriginal women.
“This comprehensive study will help further inform the actions the government is taking in our efforts to keep our streets and communities safe,” Justice Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement. “All Canadians expect the RCMP to continue to investigate every missing persons case with all the resources and capabilities available to them.”