Canadian homicide rate jumps in 2015, quarter of victims Aboriginal

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian homicide rate jumped to its highest level in four years in 2015, with a quarter of the victims reported by police as being an Aboriginal person, according to data from Statistics Canada released on Wednesday.

There were 604 homicides last year, up from 521 in 2014. That sent 2015’s homicide rate up to 1.68 murders per 100,000 people, the highest rate since 2011.

In contrast, the murder rate in the United States was 5 victims per 100,000 people last year, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The higher number of homicides in Canada was driven by increases in the prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as in Ontario, Canada’s most populated province.

Twenty-five percent of victims were identified as Aboriginal, a group that accounted for about 5 percent of the population last year.

Many of Canada’s Aboriginals live in dire conditions and experience high levels of poverty and violence against women. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to a better job of addressing the serious social issues.

Aboriginals had a much higher homicide rate than the rest of the country in 2015, with 8.77 victims per 100,000 Aboriginal people, compared to 1.31 victims per 100,000 non-Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal men were seven times more likely to be a victim homicide than non-Aboriginal men, while the homicide rate for Aboriginal women was six times higher than non-Aboriginal women.

Statistics Canada said the differences in rates was similar to 2014, the first time such data became available.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Grant McCool