Honoring our sisters
The Federal Government of Canada recently announced a national inquiry on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. According to a RCMP study, during the 1980-2012 timeframe, it is known that 1,017 Indigenous women and girls were murdered, while another 164 were known to be missing. While these numbers are very significant, it is believed that these statistics are inaccurate and incomplete.
In the same study, Alberta is shown to have the second highest number of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, with 206 cases; an overwhelming majority (89%) were mothers. Indigenous women and girls are far more likely than other Canadian women and girls to experience violence and to die as a result. Between 1997 and 2000, the rate of homicide overall for Indigenous women was 5.4 per 100,000 – almost seven times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous women, at 0.8 per 100,000.
In 2012, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) expressed concern about the levels of sexual exploitation of Indigenous girls in Canada and the failure of authorities to fully investigate when those girls have gone missing or were murdered.
According to the Native Women‘s Association of Canada (NWAC), Indigenous women are more likely to be killed by a stranger than non-Indigenous women, and nearly half of the murders are unsolved. In 2010, the government stopped funding NWAC’s data initiative on the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women, and it did not renew funding for the organization’s statistical monitoring of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. As a result, no comprehensive sex– and race–disaggregated data to track the numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are available since 2010.
Amnesty International published a report on Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women in 2004. Among other findings, the report concluded that, “Despite assurances to the contrary, police in Canada have often failed to provide Indigenous women with an adequate standard of protection.”