OTTAWA — A new report has added 62 more names to a growing list of missing or murdered aboriginal women and girls.
The report by the Native Women’s Association of Canada pegs the total at at least 582.
The report says the data is limited by the way information is collected — there’s no national missing-persons database and police records don’t always indicate aboriginal status.
The Sisters in Spirit initiative led the five-year project to document and report on cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
The report found that aboriginal females are more likely to be killed by a stranger than non-aboriginal women.
It says many victims are targeted simply because they are aboriginal and their attackers assume they will not fight back or be missed.
“The stories shared by families, communities, and friends also tell us that many missing and murdered women and girls were ‘vulnerable’ only insofar as they were aboriginal and they were women,” the report says.
“The over-representation of aboriginal women in Canada as victims of violence must be understood in the context of a colonial strategy that sought to dehumanize aboriginal women.”
Nearly half of all murder cases involving First Nations, Metis and Inuit women and girls remain unsolved. The rate is dramatically different for cases where non-aboriginal women are murdered, where 84 per cent are cleared by charges or other means.
Most of the missing and murdered women are mothers and grandmothers who leave children behind.
“It goes without saying that children will experience trauma after such incidents, regardless of their age,” the report says.
“If these wounds are not healed and children carry this pain with them into adulthood, a cycle of intergenerational trauma may well result.”
The data is drawn from the last three decades, with 153 of the cases occurring between 2000 and 2008. Most of the women in the database were murdered, while 115 are still missing.
Most of the deaths and disappearances occurred in western provinces, but there are missing or murdered women recorded in all regions and territories.
Most cases occurred in urban areas — 70 per cent of women and girls disappeared from an urban area and 60 per cent were murdered in another.
More than half of the murdered and missing women and girls were under the age of 31.