RCMP's National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women available online

Click here to read the National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women report by the RCMP

AFN Press Release

May 16, 2014

Assembly of First Nations Receives RCMP Report, Urges Action on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

(Ottawa, ON) - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Regional Chief for Alberta Cameron Alexis today expressed the urgent need for action on ending violence against Indigenous women and girls, including the importance of achieving justice for the family and friends of victims.  Regional Chief Alexis's comments come after today's release of the National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women report by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

"Today's RCMP report reaffirms the magnitude of the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada and clearly indicates the urgent need for action by many different players, including First Nations, governments, police services and others," said AFN Regional Chief Alexis, who leads the AFN work in the area of justice and policing.

The report released by the RCMP in Winnipeg this morning identified that Indigenous women are much more susceptible to violence than other women in Canada.  The report says that 1,017 Aboriginal women were murdered from 1980 to 2012, and that another 164 of them had gone missing, and that Aboriginal women represented 16 per cent of all female victims of homicide in Canada during the period studied.

"A national shame and a national tragedy, Indigenous women are vastly over-represented in the numbers of missing and murdered women and girls," said Regional Chief Alexis.  "We are demanding immediate action based on these concrete facts and numbers so that not one more woman or girl is victimized and that no family member has to spend another day without answers.  Ending violence against Indigenous women is an urgent priority for First Nations across the country and today's report should compel all Canadians and the federal government to support immediate action.  The AFN continues the call for a coordinated National Action Plan, including a National Public Commission of Inquiry, as well as immediate direct investments in shelters and preventative support measures to keep the most vulnerable of our citizens safe and secure."

The report comes just days after First Nations women and supporters gathered on Parliament Hill for a 24-hour ceremony honouring victims of violence, and the release of a report from United Nations Special Rapporteur James Anaya supporting a National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women.

"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," said Regional Chief Alexis, adding that an Inquiry is critical for accountability and to achieve real change.  "In order to be effective, a National Inquiry must be grounded in a strong actionable national strategy and plan for implementation and be fully inclusive of the voices of Indigenous communities and the families of murdered and missing women."

Given the urgency and demand for immediate action to end violence against Indigenous women and girls, AFN continues the call for action in priority areas:

  • A National Public Action Plan with clearly articulated national goals and coordinated efforts across all jurisdictions;
  • Immediate increased investments in front-line services and shelters on reserve and in rural areas to ensure access to immediate support;
  • A coordinated focus on prevention among youth and across populations, with particularly outreach to remote communities and urban centres; and
  • Stable, sustainable and adequate resources for police services and support for First Nation recommendations regarding police services.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.


Contact information:

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca


From CBC.ca

Missing and murdered aboriginal women's families want action from RCMP report

Sister of missing woman says families need to know loved ones' cases 'aren't sitting on a shelf somewhere'

Posted: May 16, 2014

RCMP issue report into missing, murdered aboriginal women

RCMP issue report into missing, murdered aboriginal women 1:58

Jennifer Catcheway's parents react to RCMP report

Jennifer Catcheway's parents react to RCMP report 1:52

Related Stories

External Links

Loved ones of missing and murdered aboriginal women say they hope the RCMP will follow through on recommendations made in a new report and work more closely with families.

The RCMP's National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, released Friday in Winnipeg, found that aboriginal women are over-represented in cases of missing and murdered women compared with non-natives.

The report found that aboriginal women account for 4.3 per cent of the overall Canadian female population yet account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of the cases of missing women.

Officials said there have been 1,181 police-recorded aboriginal homicides and unresolved missing women investigations over the past three decades - a much higher number than previously thought.

"Six years ago, 500 was shocking. But since then it's more than doubled," said Wilfred Catcheway, whose daughter, Jennifer, has been missing since her 18th birthday in 2008.

Bernadette Smith, whose 21-year-old sister, Claudette Osborne, has been missing since July 2008, said police and victims' families need to work together.

"We're not asking for information on the case. All we're asking for is, you know, a relationship to be built that's built on trust so that we know that our loved ones' cases aren't sitting on a shelf somewhere," she said.

While RCMP officials spoke to reporters about the report's findings on Friday, a group of people drummed outside and sang an honour song for missing and murdered women.

Missing persons strategy pledged

RCMP said they are dedicating "resources to develop a national missing persons strategy" that will guide the police force's approach to missing persons cases.

Missing and murdered women

Elder Marielee Nault gives a blessing at the start of the RCMP's news conference on Friday morning. (Genevieve Murchison/CBC)

The police force also pledged to create a mandatory national missing persons intake form and implement a national risk assessment tool as an investigative aid.

Officials said they want to ensure there is necessary supervision on missing person investigations and that officers provide more timely communication with families.

Smith said she's glad to see the RCMP commit to keep communications open to victims' families, but she wishes that was the case when her sister went missing.

"When my sister went missing it took them 10 days before they investigated," she said.

"We knew her, we love her, we know that that was out of character for her; there was no way that she wouldn't contact a family member on a daily basis."

'Big numbers game,' says family member

The RCMP report provided little comfort to Candy Volk, whose 18-year-old niece, Hillary Wilson, was found dead outside Winnipeg in August 2009.

"They just kept going on about the statistics and percentages," Volk said. "It was all like a big numbers game to them. And that's all they gave us ... what we already knew."

Police have treated Wilson's death as a homicide, but no arrests have been made.

The report 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 general consensus among the aboriginal community is that none of the files have been completed, nobody's been brought to trial or to justice, and so those were the numbers that were surprising," said Nahanni Fontaine, the Manitoba government's special adviser on aboriginal women's issues.

Fontaine, who has worked closely with victims' families, said it's important to know that police are making progress in cases.

The report also indicates that 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.

Karen Harper, a community liaison with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said she hopes the general public will finally recognize the true scope of the issue and not simply assume the victims were sex-trade workers.

"That they will come alongside and bring that support, instead of the negativity of, 'Oh, well, they chose that,'" Harper said.

'Beginning of a process for us'

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.

RCMP officials said the 22-page report requires a response from all Canadians.

"I don't think we have all the answers that we need right now, no, and I think this is the beginning of a process for us," Janice Armstrong, the RCMP's deputy commissioner for contract and aboriginal policing, told reporters.

"We still have a lot of unanswered questions, as you'll see through the report, and we've posed them."

Volk said the RCMP should have held off on releasing the report until they had a concrete action plan.

She added that what she really wants is a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

"That would have given us hope," she said, her voice breaking. "Because right now, we need hope."


From PressProgress.ca

MAY 17, 2014 

5 stats we now know about Canada's murdered and missing aboriginal women

The week began with a United Nations envoy calling out Canada for having a First Nations human-rights problem of "crisis proportions."

It ended with the release of an RCMP report acknowledging a staggering number of aboriginal women are victims of violence in a country marred by inequality. The numbers in the report, released Friday, renewed calls for a public inquiry into Canada's murdered and missing indigenous women.

Here are 5 key stats about the last three decades that sum up the injustice:

  • 1,017 aboriginal women have been murdered; another 164 are still considered missing. This "exceeds previous public estimates."
  • The rate of homicide per 100,000 is 4.45 for aboriginal women compared to 0.90 for non-aboriginal women.
  • Aboriginal women account for 4.3% of the overall Canadian female population;
  • But account for 11.3% of the cases of missing women;
  • And represent 16% of female homicides.

This is what that looks like, courtesy of the RCMP report with stats that surprised the country's top Mountie:


From the TorontoStar.com

RCMP report on aboriginal women puts numbers to our national shame: Tim Harper

We are quick to work to protect women's rights abroad, but when it comes to murdered aboriginals at home, we are quick to look the other way.

RCMP deputy commissioner for aboriginal policing Janice Armstrong, centre, listens to media questions at the release of their report into missing and murdered aboriginal women.


RCMP deputy commissioner for aboriginal policing Janice Armstrong, centre, listens to media questions at the release of their report into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

By:  National Affairs, Published on Mon May 19 2014

OTTAWA-Last week, while aboriginal demonstrators were marching outside the Centre Block, New Democratic MP Niki Ashton rose in the Commons and asked the government - again - to convene a national inquiry to provide answers and justice for the families of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

What she got from the country's justice minister, Peter MacKay, was a patronizing smack down.

"What we do not need is haughty, condescending questions from the Opposition," said Mackay, before lapsing into the familiar rote answer about more "actual, concrete, substantive, practical action" to protect aboriginal women.

The government has long resisted an inquiry, saying another analysis is not needed. What is needed, we are told, is action.

That argument would be much more palatable if this government was actually doing something substantive, rather than cosmetic.

It would be far more palatable if this government could explain why an inquiry into how this has happened somehow precludes immediate action. now.

An inquiry is not an excuse for inaction in the here and now.

It would be far more palatable if a law-and-order government, which preaches the rights of victims, could explain why it is so reluctant to give families who lost loved ones the tiny bit of closure that could come from speaking publicly if they felt their concerns were not given priority by law enforcement agencies.

Yes, an inquiry would be costly and the range of issues at play here mean the scope could be unwieldy. An inquiry would embarrass us all - successive governments, local police forces and the RCMP, and non-aboriginals in this country. Maybe we need that.

This government, and indeed this country, needs a jolt to some type of action to deal with a national shame that is depriving families of justice and staining this country's reputation worldwide.

Friday, the RCMP gave us that jolt, putting numbers - not names - to the epidemic of violence against aboriginal women in this country.

The numbers were largely known, the scale of the problem acknowledged for years, but somehow the numbers still stop you in your tracks.

There were 1,181 murdered or missing women in this country over the period studied, 1980-2012.

Some 120 homicides remain unsolved and another 105 aboriginal women were officially missing on the day this snapshot was taken, Nov. 4, 2013.

Fifty-five per cent of all murders during that time period in Saskatchewan were aboriginal women. In Manitoba, the figure is 49 per cent.

Female aboriginals comprise 4.3 per cent of the population. On that November day they represented 11 per cent of all women reported missing.

Over the period studied, 16 per cent of the murder victims in this country were aboriginal females - four times their representation in the population.

Aboriginal women accounted for 8 per cent of female homicide victims in 1984, but 23 per cent - nearly one in four of all murders of Canadian women - in 2012. The RCMP said much of that jump is because of a decline in female homicides generally.

Female aboriginals are twice as likely to be beaten to death than non-aboriginal homicide victims.

Those who kill aboriginal females were more likely to be out of work, more likely to be on social assistance or disability insurance, far more likely (71 per cent) to be high at the time of the crime.

Importantly, the solve rate for murders of women both aboriginal and non-aboriginal is almost identical, close to 90 per cent, but the rates plummet for both, around 60-65 per cent, if they are in the sex trade.

The RCMP report is groundbreaking, but it raises age-old problems which have been studied before without improvement - poverty, lack of job opportunities, drug and alcohol abuse.

That's what makes an inquiry so daunting. It is true that more analysis will not solve the problem, but as a sign of good faith with a First Nations whose relationship with the Stephen Harper government is broken, the Conservatives must provide some type of forum for answers.

The number of missing aboriginal women in Canada approaches the number ofNigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, an atrocity which is receiving a global spotlight, commands huge media attention in Canada and sparked an emergency debate in the House of Commons.

While international concern for the Nigerian girls is laudable, it is a mystery why the Conservative government and the Canadian media essentially ignore an atrocity on a similar scale happening right in their own country.

We went to Afghanistan ostensibly to help young girls and women. We are offering help to find girls in Nigeria. But on our own streets we look the other way.