Canada’s missing indigenous women number into the thousands prompting probe


The Canadian government is launching an investigation into the reports of missing indigenous women, which have grown in number through the last decade. Studies of the missing aboriginal women reveal that between 1980 and 2012 around 1,200 went missing, but that number is extremely low claim two government ministers. Because that represents about a quarter of what is believed to be the real number of missing, two Canadian ministers are orchestrating a probe into the missing native women of Canada.

NPR.org reports on February 17 that Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said at a news conference this week in Ottawa with Minister for the Status of Women, Patty Hajdu, that the numbers are actually “far higher” than reported. They believe more realistically the numbers should come in around 4,000.

The reason for such a discrepancy in numbers is based on the history of police failing to properly investigate cases of missing native women along with their tendency to “under investigate” the reports revolving the native women who are reported missing. Hajdu offered evidence of this when quoting a study done in 2014.

Referring to the 2014 study, Hajdu said that the mounted police “were only looking at very specific parameters.” She also said that cases not counted in the reported numbers are disputed or the cases are deemed as “a suicide or a death due to exposure, but in fact there are signs or symptoms that it wasn’t.”

Aboriginal women make up about 4 percent of the female population in Canada, but 1 in every 4 female homicides victims in Canada is an indigenous woman. The probe will go forward, but there are a few issues to address before it can, such as who will lead the investigation. They also need to decide what to do about the cold cases.

This is a sensitive issue, so there needs to be some discussion around how to handle the issue with the families of the missing women, so they aren’t traumatized any more than they have been already. The Toronto Star reports on an investigation that they did into the missing women and they found that “there is no clear profile for killers of aboriginal women.”

The Star’s research showed that “Half of the victims were domestically related to the perpetrator,” but “16 per cent of the offenders were acquaintances; 15 per cent were strangers; and 13 per cent serial killers,” the newspaper investigation found. This is something that has the attention of the nation today. Valentine’s Day this year, vigils were held across Canada in remembrance of the murdered and missing aboriginal women.

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