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Murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada

2015

TORONTO STAR ANALYSIS OF MMIW 11/13/2015


There are many public lists of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada, some more detailed than others. The Toronto Star compiled
those lists into a single database and then went about verifying as much of the information as possible.
Five Star journalists, two Star librarians and a database specialist searched and read through thousands of news stories, obituaries and online legal
documents to check the status of cases. New cases were added and some were removed after the research revealed, for example, that a missing
woman had been found or that a murdered woman was not indigenous. The Star asked the RCMP in a March, 2014, access request for its list of
murdered and missing women, which served as the foundation for a 2014 public report on the issue, titled Missing and Murdered Aboriginal
Women: A National Operational Overview. The RCMP released 2,000 pages of material, with all of the names and personal information of the
women and girls redacted. As of November, 2015, the Stars research had identified 1,129 cases where an indigenous woman or girl was either
murdered, died in suspicious circumstances, or is missing. It is by no means a complete list. In some cases, the Star could not verify details. For
those reasons, the Star is choosing to share an aggregate level analysis of the cases. What follows is a preliminary analysis and findings package.
Caveats, data at a glance
In 130 cases 78 of which were from British Columbia the Star could not find information to verify the type of case (murdered vs. missing),
nor could the Star find any information to exclude them. Of the 1,129 cases, 937 are from 1980 to 2015. Looking at solve rates for homicides, the
ratio of unsolved to solved cases, by year, was higher in the 80s and 90s, and gradually is decreasing.
Overall, there are 768 murder cases, of which 20 were identified as murder/suicides. Of the murders, 224 are unsolved, with 186 of those cases
involving killings since 1980.
Solved totals in the Star analysis do not include cases where an accused was acquitted, but they do count cases where an arrest has been made and
a trial is pending, or in instances where an accused has died. The Star also included as solved cases where the outcome was unclear, such as a case
where there was a trial but the outcome could not be determined.
There are 171 missing women and girls in the Star database, which is nearly identical with RCMP figures from 2014, which tallied 164 missing
cases, dating back to the 50s.
Star reporters David Bruser, Jim Rankin, Joanna Smith, Tanya Talaga and Jennifer Wells; librarians Astrid Lange and Rick Sznajder; database
specialist Andrew Bailey; and demographic experts Hidy Ng and Matthew Cole were involved in the research and analysis. Questions can be
directed to Jim Rankin (jrankin@thestar.ca).

SOLVED/UNSOLVED/MISSING
Between 1980 and 2012, the solved rate in the cases of murdered indigenous women compiled by the Star is 70 per cent, which is lower than the
88 per cent solve rate the RCMP reported in its 2014 report for the same time frame. The RCMP report cited a solve rate for non-aboriginal female
homicides to by 89 per cent, based on an analysis of Canada-wide homicides from 1980 to 2012.
Another difference is the number of unsolved cases. The Star analysis identified 180 cases between 1980 and 2012, The RCMP cited 120 cases for
that same time period.
It is unclear why there are such large differences. The RCMP data came from police-reported figures. The Star analysis is based largely on media
reports.
Murders - 1980-2012
Status
Murder/Suicide
Murdered unclear outcome
Solved murder
Unsolved murder
Unsolved murder - Acquittal
Total
Murders - Per cent solved

AB

BC

MB

NB

NFLD

NS

NU

NWT
1

ON

PEI

QC

SK

YK

Total
19
25
410
180
13
647
70.2%

6
1
4
2
2
1
2
4
1
6
1
8
1
4
68
97
75
3
10
6
20
6
49
2
14
58
3
40
65
30
1
6
2
2
16
7
10
1
3
3
1
1
1
4
121
167
116
3
11
12
25
9
76
2
24
78
4
64.5% 59.3% 73.3% 100.0% 90.9% 50.0% 92.0% 77.8% 77.6% 100.0% 66.7% 82.1% 75.0%

Missing by province all years


Province
AB
BC
MB
NEVADA
NFLD
NU
NWT
ON
QC
SK
YK
Total

CountOfPerson
24
67
26
1
2
1
5
13
6
25
1
171

The ratio of unsolved to solved murders is decreasing.*


100%
2
90%
1

1
1

80%

6
1

17

10

10

9
3

50%

2 1 1

1 1 2 1 1

1 2 1

4 1

Unsolved murder

2 1 2
10

25
19

40%

13

10

30%
1
1
1

10%

16

12

Solved murder

25 18
17

23 18 14

23 25

18

19 22

12

22

Murdered unclear outcome


3

25

5
4

1 1

4
1

3
1
1

2
1

3 2
2 1
1
1
1 2 1 1

Blank
1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1957
1958
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015

1
2

12

0%

The proportion
of unsolved
murders is
decreasing, and
has been for
decades.

60%

20%

6 6

7 9

3
2

7 9

70%
18

4 4 4 2 3

*Star research relied heavily on searches of electronic news databases, many of which go back as far as the mid-80s.

Blank
1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1957
1958
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015

Murders of aboriginal women and girls peaked in


2005.

Murders

50

45
43

40

35
36

31 31

30 27
26

25

20
18

15
14

5
2

0
1 1 0 0 1 1
2
4

1 1 0 0 1
4 3

1
1
2
3 3
5
4 3 3
2
14

10
10

4
2
1
13
15
14
16 15 16 15
19
30
32

27
27

21
19
28
30

23
20 20
Murders

16

8
10

2
4

RELATION TO VICTIM
The RCMP reported in 2014 that more than 90 per cent of female aboriginal homicide victims had some sort of a relationship with
their killer. Lumped into the acquaintance grouping are people who may have had only a passing link to the victim or a criminal
one. That category would include serial killers who knew a victim and pimps and drug dealers. Where the relationship of a killer to the
victim was specified, The Star analysis found half involved a partner, ex-partner or some other relative (domestic). Another 16 per
cent fell into the acquaintance category. A full 15 per cent were strangers, and another 13 per cent were serial killers, which the Star
put into a separate category. In other words, where the relationship was specified, 28 per cent involved a stranger or a serial killer,
which are known to be tougher crimes to solve. It would be safe to assume then that, of the unsolved cases, a higher proportion of
those are the work of strangers, serial killers or more loosely connected acquaintances.
Where relationship is known
Relationship
Domestic - all relation types
Acquaintance
Stranger
Serial Killer
Police
Medical negligence
Foster Care Negligence
Total

Count
226
69
62
56
5
1
1
420

53.8%
16.4%
14.8%
13.3%
1.2%
0.2%
0.2%
100.0%

ONTARIO/THUNDER BAY
According to the RCMP analysis of police-reported solve rates, Ontario police services had an overall solve rate of 93 per cent for
both aboriginal female and non-aboriginal female homicides between 1980 and 2012. According to the RCMP report, that is the
highest in the country for more populated provinces.
The Star analysis of cases from 1980 to 2012 found Ontarios solve rate in aboriginal female homicides to be 77 per cent. Looking at
all of the Ontario cases, regardless of timeframe, the Ontario solved rate drops to 69 per cent.
The RCMP in 2014 reported that, from 1980 to 2012, there were nine missing persons cases and eight unsolved homicides involving
aboriginal women in Ontario. From 1980 to 2012, the Star analysis identified 17 unsolved murders and 10 missing women. Over all
years, the Star analysis identified 13 missing persons cases and 28 unsolved murders.
Again, the reasons for the differences are unclear. The RCMP data came from police-reported figures. The Star analysis is based
largely on media reports.
As noted previously, the ratio of unsolved murders to solved murders is becoming smaller over time.

Ontario cases - all


Status
Solved murder
Unsolved murder
Missing
Murdered unclear outcome
Death - suspicious circumstances
Death/missing - unclear circumstances
No information
Murder/Suicide
Unsolved murder - Acquittal
Death - killed by train
Death - in custody death
Death - from a fall
TOTAL

CountOfPerson
53
28
13
9
9
5
2
2
1
1
1
1
125

Ontario cases - all - 1980 to 2012


Status
Death - in custody death
Death - suspicious circumstances
Death/missing - unclear circumstances
Missing
Murder/Suicide
Murdered unclear outcome
No information
Solved murder
Unsolved murder
Unsolved murder - Acquittal
TOTAL
Unsolved per cent (does not include unclear)

CountOfPerson

Northwestern Ontario cases - including Thunder Bay - all years


Status
CountOfPerson
Solved murder
Unsolved murder
Missing
Murdered unclear outcome
Death - suspicious circumstances
Murder/Suicide
Unsolved murder - Acquittal
Death - in custody death
TOTAL

1
7
3
10
2
8
1
49
16
1
98
22.1%

25
15
6
4
3
2
1
1
57

10

Thunder Bay cases - all years


Status
Unsolved murder
Solved murder
Missing
Unsolved murder - Acquittal
Murdered unclear outcome
Death - in custody death
TOTAL

CountOfPerson
10
8
3
1
1
1
24

11

Over time in Ontario, the ratio of unsolved to solved homicides is getting smaller.
100%

90%

1
1

2
1

80%
1
70%

3
2

60%

Unsolved murder - Acquittal


50%

Unsolved murder
Solved murder

4
40%

Murdered unclear outcome

4
3
2

30%
1
20%

2
1

10%

2
1

No year
1958
1966
1973
1974
1977
1978
1986
1987
1988
1989
1992
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
Total

0%

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WINNIPEG
The solved rate for murders in Winnipeg, looking at all years, is 60.3 per cent well below the Canadian and provincial averages.
Ten of the MMIW cases came in 2008 alone.
Winnipeg cases - all
Status
Solved murder
Unsolved murder
Missing
Murdered unclear outcome
Death - undetermined
cause
Total

CountOfPerson
44
27
15
2
1
89

Perpetrator info, where murdered or killed, and some info available


Perpetrator's relation to victim
CountOfPerson
Domestic - all relation types
19
Known in some other way
8
Stranger - male
4
Stranger - female
4
Unclear - male
4
Serial killer - Lamb
2
Acquaintance
1
Stranger - group
1
Unclear - female
1
Total
44

13

Winnipeg murdered and missing by year


12

10

Murdered

Missing
10
1
4

6
3

2
3
2
1

2
1

1
2

3
2

2
1

2
1

0
Year 1961 1970 1974 1977 1980 1984 1987 1988 1989 1991 1993 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

14

Winnipeg murder cases by status, by year


12

10

Unsolved murder
1

Solved murder
Murdered unclear outcome

5
2

1977

1980

2009

1974

2008

1970

2001

1961

1998

Year

1997

1996

1993

1991

1988

1987

2007

1
2

2000

2006

2013

2012

2011

2010

2005

2004

2003

2002

1999

1989

1984

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LOCATION OF BODY/MANNER OF DEATH


An RCMP analysis of Aboriginal vs. non-Aboriginal murders of women and girls found that the bodies of Aboriginal victims are
more likely to be left outside, in the open. We also are able to look at manner of killing. Where the method is known, stabbing is the
most common, followed by shooting. But when all forms of manual means of death (beating, strangulation, blunt force, and other
manual trauma), are lumped together, it is clear that the prime means of killing aboriginal women involves being up close, and it is
physically-intense and brutal in nature.

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Manner of death
Category
Unclear
Stabbed
Shot
Beaten
Strangled
Blunt force trauma
Asphyxiated
Trauma
Alcohol poisoning
Head injuries
Drowned
Vehicle
Fire
Overdose
Hypothermia
No body found
Axed
Stabbed - throat cut
Decapitated
Hung
Poisoned
Arson
Beaten/kicked
Multiple injuries
Neglect
Broken neck
Internal injuries
Pushed from building
Pushed into window
Repeated shaking

SumOfBodyFoundMannerOfDeath
318
129
83
71
56
32
18
12
10
10
9
8
7
7
6
6
5
4
3
3
3
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
1

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OTHER FINDINGS
GIRLS One out of seven murdered aboriginal females in our database are girls aged 12 to 18. Nearly one in four of the 170 missing
persons cases involve a girl between the ages of 12 and 18.
Missing ages 12 to 18
Province

CountOfPerson

AB

BC

15

MB

10

NU

NWT

ON

QC

SK

Total

40

18

Murdered/death ages 12 to 18
Province
AB
BC
MB
NB
NFLD
NS
NU
NWT
ON
QC
SK
YK
YT
Total

CountOfPerson
14
38
21
2
1
1
2
1
20
9
8
1
1
119

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PER CAPITA ANALYSIS Comparing case totals from all years to most recent provincial aboriginal female population figures, a
Star analysis shows that, per capita, the likelihood of an aboriginal girl or women going missing or being murdered or dying under
suspicious circumstances is the greatest in British Columbia, followed by Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Ontario, which has
the highest population of aboriginal females in Canada has one of the lowest likelihoods. New Brunswick has the lowest likelihood,
followed by Quebec.
Cases by province, compared to female aboriginal population

Province
BC
AB
MB
SK
ON
QC
NU
NFLD
NWT
NS
NB
YK
PEI
Overall - Canada
*All years
**Latest available population

Cases* Total pop**


Aboriginal female pop**
347
4400057
118457
191
3645257
110018
170
1208268
99744
140
1033381
79772
122
12851821
154779
39
7903001
72448
33
31906
13303
25
514536
18366
22
41462
10413
14
921727
17486
6
751171
11534
5
33897
3828
2
140204
1157
1116
33476688
711305

Abgnl case per


capita

Abgnl per capita


Rank
341
576
587
570
1,269
1,858
403
735
473
1,249
1,922
766
579
637

1
5
7
4
11
12
2
8
3
10
13
9
6

Source: Toronto Star research, Statistics Canada

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Looking at the top 25 cities and towns in terms of numbers missing and murdered indigenous women for all years, and comparing that
to most recent overall aboriginal populations (male and female combined), the likelihood of indigenous women going missing or
being murdered or dying in suspicious circumstances is highest in Vancouver, followed by Quesnel, Hobbema and Iqaluit. Of the top
25, the likelihood is lowest in Halifax, followed by Calgary, Hamilton, Prince Albert and Toronto.
Top 25 cities - all case types of MMIW* - with rate per female Aboriginal population

CityOrTown
Vancouver
Quesnel
Hobbema
Iqaluit
Fort St John
Penticton
Thunder Bay
Prince George
Burnaby
Victoria, BC
Coquitlam
Whitehorse
Edmonton
Regina
Surrey
Kamloops
Winnipeg
Saskatoon

Count of
Aboriginal female
1 case per every XXX female
cases
population
aboriginal
6,108
78
78
6
736
123
6
873
146
10
1,992
199
5
1,036
207
5
1,062
212
24
5,186
216
19
4,534
239
7
1,688
241
7
1,786
255
5
1,331
266
6
1,900
317
64
21,060
329
27
9,622
356
14
5,545
396
8
3,196
400
37,198
89
418
25
10,905
436

Per capita
rank
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18

21

Yellowknife
Brandon
Toronto
Prince Albert
Hamilton
Calgary
Halifax
*All cases includes ones where type is unclear

5
5
15
10
6
16
5

2,378
2,620
9,999
7,305
5,265
14,478
4,945

476
524
667
731
878
905
989

19
20
21
22
23
24
25

Source: Toronto Star research, Statistics Canada

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AGE Overall, the average age of the murdered women is 26.6 years old. The average age of missing is 27.8.
Average age of murdered
Province

Avg age

AB

27.3

BC

25.1

MB

24.2

MN

42.0

NB

31.0

NFLD

35.2

NS

32.3

NU

27.6

NWT

36.2

NY

25.0

ON

30.0

PEI
QC

34.5
27.7

SD

30.0

SK

25.6

YK

23.0

YT

11.0

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Average age at time went missing


Province
AB
BC
MB
NEVADA
NFLD
NU
NWT
ON
QC
SK
YT

Average age - all types


Type
Murdered
Missing
Death/missing - unclear circumstances
Death - suspicious circumstances
No information
Murder/Suicide

Avg age
29.0
27.2
25.1
21.0
32.5
13.0
18.8
35.8
21.8
31.6
19.0

CountOfCases
746
170
103
28
27
20

Avg Age
26.6
27.8
31.4
28.5
21.1
26.8

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