No More Stolen Sisters: Justice for the missing and murdered Indigenous women of Canada
Indigenous women are going missing and being murdered at a much higher rate than other women in Canada—a rate so high it constitutes nothing less than a national human rights crisis.
Amnesty Mission to Upper Peace River Valley, BC
Every year women from Fort St. John travel to Ottawa with a banner listing the missing and murdered women and girls in their community—and every year the banner includes more names. This is why Amnesty International is currently carrying out a Fact-Finding mission to northeastern British Columbia from April 27-May 8.
Why are the rates of violence so high?
- Racist and sexist stereotypes deny the dignity and worth of Indigenous women, encouraging some men to feel they can get away with violent acts of hatred against them.
- Decades of government policy have impoverished and broken apart Indigenous families and communities, leaving many Indigenous women and girls extremely vulnerable to exploitation and attack.
- Many police forces have failed to institute necessary measures – such as training, appropriate investigative protocols and accountability mechanisms – to eliminate bias in how they respond to the needs of Indigenous women and their families.
How severe is the problem?
- Indigenous women are far more likely than non-Indigenous women to experience violence. In a 2009 government survey of the ten provinces, Aboriginal women were nearly three times more likely than non-Aboriginal women to report being a victim of a violent crime.
- The violence experienced by Indigenous women is more severe. RCMP statistics released in 2014 show that Indigenous women are four times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women.
- The high rates of violence threaten the lives of Indigenous women and girls from all walks of life, in every region of the country, on reserve, and in major Canadian cities. The perpetrators include Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men alike.
- Some patterns of violence facing Indigenous women and girls are different from those facing non-Indigenous women. For example, according to the RCMP report released in May 2014, Indigenous women are more likely than non-Indigenous women to be murdered by what the police call acquaintances—friends, colleagues, neighbours and other men who are not intimate partners or spouses.
- A report released by the RCMP in May 2014 states that 1,017 Indigenous women and girls were murdered from 1980-2012. Because of gaps in police and government reporting, the actual numbers may be much higher.
What needs to happen to stop the violence?
A concerted, national response that is comprehensive, coordinated, well resourced, and developed in collaboration with Indigenous women and girls themselves. It should include:
- A national action plan to end violence against women which addresses the root causes of violence and identifies holistic, culturally-appropriate ways in which to prevent violence and to support those impacted by violence.
- A national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women focused on exposing the nature of this violence and on ensuring government and police accountability for an effective and coordinated response.
- Regular, comprehensive collection of data on violence against Indigenous women in official crime statistics.
Amnesty International stands in solidarity with the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and Indigenous peoples’ organizations to demand real action now to prevent more sisters from being stolen. Join us!
Photo: Activists stand vigil on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, 4 October 2012, to remember the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. Susanne Ure/Amnesty International
- Native Womens' Association of Canada
- Pauktuutit: Inuit Women of Canada
- Native Youth Sexual Health Network
- Families of Sisters in Spirit (Facebook)