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Report highlights disproportionate violence against Indigenous women

Last modified: May 5, 2022 at 12:09pm


A new report from Statistics Canada breaks down data showing First Nations, Métis and Inuit women are disproportionately affected by violence in Canada. 

Published late last month, the report found Indigenous women face higher rates of physical and sexual violence than non-Indigenous women, due in part to the legacy of colonialism.

It is based on findings from the 2018 survey of safety in public and private spaces and the 2019 general social survey on Canadians’ safety

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“This overrepresentation of Indigenous women in experiences of violent victimization is linked to historical and continued experiences of violence and trauma linked to colonization and related policies aimed at erasing Indigenous cultures and dismantling Indigenous families and communities,” the report states. 

According to the report, 63 percent of Indigenous women surveyed reported being sexually or physically assaulted at least once by the age of 15, compared to 45 percent of non-Indigenous women.

Broken down further, 64 percent of First Nations women, 65 percent of Métis women, and 45 percent of Inuit women reported experiencing violence. 

While the statistics are significantly lower for Inuit women, the report points to research that suggests Inuit women may underreport incidents due to the normalization of violence through colonization and related policies. 

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Five percent of women in Canada are Indigenous. Twenty-four percent of the 1,000 women murdered in Canada between 2015 and 2020 were Indigenous.

Indigenous women across all provinces were more likely to report experiencing violence than non-Indigenous women, Statistics Canada reported.

In the North, Indigenous and non-Indigenous women reported similar rates of violent victimization. Across all three territories, 62 percent of Indigenous women and 61 percent of non-Indigenous women reported experiencing violence since the age of 15. The results were based on a survey of 2,597 people. 

The report found factors that placed women at a greater risk of violence included being under the legal responsibility of the government as a child, having a disability, experiencing homelessness, and childhood experiences of abuse. 

The staggering rates of violence against Indigenous, women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people in Canada were documented by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. More than 2,380 people participated in the inquiry, including 468 family members and survivors of violence who shared their experiences and recommendations at 15 community hearings. 

The inquiry’s final report determined the violence amounts to a race-based genocide of Indigenous peoples that especially targets women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 

May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, commonly known as Red Dress Day. 

If you or someone you know is struggling, support is available.

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