June 19, 2015 / 8:34 PM / 5 years ago

Canada's aboriginal women more often murdered by own kin, community: police

TORONTO (Reuters) - Aboriginal women are three or four times more likely to go missing or be murdered than non-native Canadian women, but the violence is typically at the hands of their family or community, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said on Friday.

In a report that underscored the violence plaguing Canada’s indigenous women, the RCMP defended its record in solving murder and missing persons cases involving aboriginals but said more work needed to be done to prevent crime in the community.

“The update confirms that aboriginal women are most often killed by men in their own homes, in their own communities, and reconfirms the need to target prevention efforts toward family violence,” RCMP Superintendent Tyler Bates told a news conference.

Canada’s 1.4 million Aboriginals have higher levels of poverty and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians, are plagued by addiction and family breakdown, and are more often victims of violent crime.

The federal police force said last year 1,017 aboriginal women had been murdered between 1980 and 2012, while another 108 were missing under suspicious circumstances.

In Friday’s updated report, the RCMP said that while aboriginal women represent just 4.3 percent of Canada’s female population, they represent 16 percent of female homicide victims and 11 percent of missing persons cases involving women.

“Aboriginal women continue to be overrepresented among Canada’s missing and murdered women. And while I applaud the efforts of everyone who is working to lessen violence against aboriginal women, it is clear that much work remains to be done,” said RCMP Deputy commission Janice Armstrong.

The update noted that 11 more aboriginal women have gone missing since last year’s report.

The Assembly of First Nations, an umbrella organization representing one of Canada’s three distinct aboriginal groups, said the RCMP report is an “urgent call to action on a national crisis.”

Many aboriginals have called for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, but Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rebuffed them, saying the tragedies are about crime, not a “sociological phenomenon” requiring further study.

The RCMP also said its solve rate for homicides of aboriginal women was 88 percent, little different than it’s 89 percent solve rate for homicides involving non-native women.

Earlier in June, a six-year investigation found that the Canadian policy of forcibly separating aboriginal children from their families and sending them to residential schools amounted to cultural genocide that continues to reverberate through aboriginal society.

Additional reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Bernard Orr

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