Thunder Bay Takes Regina’s Title of Canada’s Murder Capital

While Canada's murder rate is at a five-decade low, a Stats Can report says Aboriginal people are six times more likely to be murdered than the rest of the population.

by Jake Kivanc
26 November 2015, 4:32pm

Beautiful Thunder Bay. Photo via Flickr user Jeremiah John McBride

Thunder Bay, Ontario had a dramatic spike in its murder rate last year despite the nationwide murder rate remaining at a five-decade low, according to new data from Stats Canada.

Released yesterday, the annual Stats Canada report on nationwide murders showed only a slight increase from 2013's total murders of 513 compared to 516 in 2014. This continues a trend of Canada's murder rate being its lowest since 1966.

However, the northern Ontario city of Thunder Bay had a sharp rise in murders, up from just three in 2013 to 11 in 2014. In 2013, the city with the highest number of homicides was Regina, Saskatchewan, with nine murders and a murder rate of 3.84 percent per capita.

One of the most disturbing statistics in the report is in regards to Aboriginal people. Despite making up just five percent of the total population in Canada, Aboriginal people accounted for nearly a quarter of all murder victims last year, making up 117 of the total.

"Aboriginal people were victims of homicide in 2014 at a rate that was about six times higher than that of non-Aboriginal people," the report reads, noting that there were 7.20 victims per 100,000 Aboriginal people versus 1.13 victims per 100,000 non-Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal men were seven times more likely to be murdered than their non-Aboriginal counterparts, and three times more likely to be murdered than Aboriginal females. The most murders of Aboriginal people comes in at 13.29 per 100,000 in Manitoba, which also scored the highest for overall murders nationwide.

It should be noted, however, that while Aboriginal murders were largely solved according to the Stats Can report—coming at an 87 percent solved rate compared to 71 percent for non-Aboriginals—the rate of murders against Aboriginal women has stayed unchanged since 1984, despite there being a decline in murders against non-Aboriginal women.

Most murders against Aboriginal people were committed by someone they knew, oftentimes their spouse, and the Stats Canada report found that a third of those accused of murder were Aboriginal.

After Manitoba, the province with the next highest number of murder per capita rate is Alberta, coming in at a 2.52 percent compared to Manitoba's 3.43. Nunavut is still the region with the highest murder rate, sitting at almost 11 percent. This is largely due to Nunavut's smaller population in comparison to the amount of homicides, with only four murders occurring in a population of roughly 32,000.

The number of murders in Ontario (population roughly 13-million, roughly three times that of Alberta and 10 times that of Manitoba) stayed on the decline, went down to 155 from 168 in 2013, and the overall murder rate is a mere 1.13 per capita. Toronto in particular made up 80 of the province's total murders, which is a hard statistic to justify when Toronto's population is 26 times higher than that of Thunder Bay, yet has a murder rate per capita eight times lower.

As Canada's largest city, Toronto's 1.38 per capita ratio looks particularly impressive (way to not murder each other, guys) when compared to US cities such as Chicago (15.1 murder ratio) and even the relatively peaceful New York (3.9).

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