Current Conditions

Light Rain

RCMP report into murdered and missing aboriginal women paints dark picture

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Janice Armstrong addresses reporters in Winnipeg Friday, May 16, 2014 regarding a new report documenting cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
May 17, 2014 - 2:24 PM

WINNIPEG - An RCMP report says aboriginal women have been much more prone to violent death than non-natives, but police have solved cases involving both groups at virtually the same rate.

The 22-page report into murdered and missing aboriginal women paints a dark picture of poverty, unemployment and other factors that the Mounties say requires a response from all Canadians.

"We still have a lot of unanswered questions ... but I think this research project, this operational overview, is an excellent first step in that direction from a policing community," Janice Armstrong, the RCMP's deputy commissioner for contract and aboriginal policing, said at a Winnipeg news conference Friday.

"It's my hope ... that it will contribute to that larger Canadian conversation."

Frances Chartrand with the Manitoba Metis Federation said the report requires concrete action, including more services for women, in communities across the country.

"What's going to the grassroots? We need programs and services at the local level," she said.

The report, a detailed statistical breakdown of 1,181 cases since 1980, says aboriginal women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, yet account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women.

It says aboriginal women are more likely to be killed by an acquaintance and are less likely to be killed by a spouse. They are also more likely to be killed by someone with a criminal record (71 per cent versus 45 per cent) and someone on social assistance (24 per cent versus 10 per cent).

The RCMP also say murdered aboriginal women were more likely to have a criminal record, to be unemployed and were much more likely to have consumed intoxicants just before their deaths (63 per cent versus 20 per cent).

"It's by no means on our part to accord any type of blame to the victim ... but the reality is that there are difficult social and economic circumstances that need to be considered and need to be discussed as we move forward," said Supt. Tyler Bates, RCMP director of national aboriginal policing.

The report indicates a small minority of missing and murdered aboriginal women had been involved in the sex trade — 12 per cent versus five per cent among non-native women.

It also challenges accusations from some quarters that aboriginal deaths are not taken as seriously by police. The "solve" rates are almost identical at 88 per cent for aboriginal women and 89 per cent for others.

The Mounties say they are sharing the data with other police forces, which have jurisdiction for roughly half of the unsolved cases, and have directed their own divisions to review any outstanding matters.

They are also promising to add resources to investigative units where needed.

The report appeared to do little to quell calls for a national inquiry and prompted more debate in the House of Commons.

"Conservative policies and programs are not working, so will they finally listen to the families and to Canadians across the country and call for a national public inquiry?" New Democrat MP Nycole Turmel asked in question period Friday.

"Now is the time to take action, not to continue to study the issue," Bob Dechert, parliamentary secretary for justice, responded. He pointed to recent funding increases to fight domestic violence.

The Assembly of First Nations said an inquiry would force the government to address the issue by, among other things, boosting women's shelters and other programs.

"While there have been many reports and findings to date, a national public commission of inquiry would demand immediate action, build on existing data and address the reasons why existing recommendations haven't been already implemented," Cameron Alexis, AFN regional chief for Alberta, said in a written statement.

James Anaya, a United Nations official who spent nine days in Canada last year studying aboriginal issues, said earlier this week that an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls is still necessary.

Earlier this month, Metis actor and singer Tom Jackson added his voice to calls for an inquest.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

  • Popular kelowna News
  • Comments
  • Warnings about fentanyl-laced marijuana in the Southern Interior
    THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – Fentanyl is being mixed with marijuana here in the Southern Interior, leading the Kamloops ASK Wellness Society to be even more concerned about the rise of deaths related
  • Kelowna Conservation Officers save large buck tangled in volleyball net
    KELOWNA - Conservation Officers reportedly came to the rescue of a large buck that was entangled in a volleyball net, according to a Facebook post by the Conservation Officer Service "D
  • Kamloops senior almost swindled out of $4,800
    KAMLOOPS - Yesterday, a Kamloops senior had a close call with a pair of brazen scam artists. Staff Sgt. Edward Preto says in a release that yesterday, Oct. 21, an elderly woman received a ph
  • Saying goodbye to Kelowna’s perogy king
    KELOWNA – Whether you knew him from the slopes of Big White or his restaurant in downtown Kelowna, you never forgot the first time you tried Cecil’s perogies. Cecil Warwaruk move
  • Crews respond to fire at Kelowna casino
    KELOWNA - This morning, firefighters responded to a minor fire at Chances on Springfield Road. According to a release issued by Dennis Miller of the Kelowna Fire Department, crews received a

View Site in: Desktop | Mobile