Justice in the Margins: Police Clearance of Homicide Involving Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:39
Oral Presentation
Tina HOTTON, University of Guelph, Canada
Despite mounting evidence in the 1990s that indigenous women were seriously overrepresented as victims of sexual assault, physical assault and homicide, little attention has been directed to their experiences navigating the criminal justice system, particularly with respect to their encounters with police, or the outcomes of their cases. Notwithstanding earlier reports from inquiries and royal commissions, one could argue that the victimization of indigenous women did not receive adequate public and political attention in Canada until indigenous women’s organizations started to shine a spotlight on serious gaps in the investigation and prosecution of homicides of indigenous women. Led by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), local grassroots organizations brought the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (hereafter referred to as MMIWG) into public consciousness. The MMIWG movement in Canada led to several important changes to government information collection and sharing. Canada`s national police service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) examined their data collection procedures and renewed attention to interprovincial information sharing on missing persons. The RCMP also revisited their original files to report ``Aboriginal`` identity information to Statistics Canada’s Homicide Survey for female victims of homicide back to 1980. Available in the Homicide Survey, these new data allow for the analysis of trends in homicide victimization of indigenous and non-indigenous women across Canada over the past 35 years (1980-2015). Among the first multivariate analyses of its kind since the data enhancements, this study examines homicide victimization of indigenous and non-indigenous females in Canada. Specifically, we address the following research question: are homicides of indigenous women and girls less likely to be cleared or solved by police than those involving non-indigenous women and girls, controlling for other incident characteristics?