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​Aboriginal Canadians Twice as Likely to be Victims of Violent Crime: Stats Can

However, why isn't the government taking residential schools and intergenerational trauma into consideration when surveying Indigenous Issues?

A woman places a candle beside pictures of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Photo via CP.

Statistics Canada released a study yesterday indicating that rates of violent crime against Aboriginal people were more than double that against non-Aboriginals in 2014, but it didn't take into account the impact of societal factors on Indigenous communities such as residential schools.

The report, entitled "Victimization of Aboriginal people in Canada," states that there were 163 occurrences of violent victimization per 1,000 Aboriginal people (which is how Stats Canada categorizes First Nation, Inuit, and Métis people), that year, in contrast to only 74 per 1,000 non-Aboriginals. It found that all incidents of victimization were higher, including sexual assaults, which occurred three times more than among non-aboriginals, and physical assault, which was twice the rate.

Aboriginal people were also 55 percent more likely to experience spousal abuse than their non-Aboriginal counterparts.

Read more: An Indigenous Mom Explains Why She Doesn't Register Her Kids with the Government

But if you read further into the report, it states: "The analysis in this release could not take into account certain societal factors, such as the impact of residential schools on Aboriginal families and communities, as this information was not collected."

Tasha Spillett, a Cree woman from Winnipeg and an Indigenous educator, told VICE that this is a huge flaw in the study, as well as research on Indigenous communities in general.

"You can't take away the [the impact] of the colonial project" Spillett said. "You can't look at those things in isolation. When people interpret those statistics on their own, they come to a conclusion that Indigenous people are inherently dysfunctional and that we have something that is wrong with us or our community."

Jillian Boyce, an analyst behind the study, told VICE that statistics in this report came from eight forms of victimization, including sexual assault, physical assault, robbery, theft of personal property, theft of a motor vehicle, theft of social property, breaking and entering, and vandalism.

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Boyce said that being Aboriginal alone is not the cause of crime, but also the presence of other risk factors like childhood maltreatment, homelessness, or mental health issues. "These are all factors that are found to be linked to victimization and they're all higher among the Aboriginal population," she said.

But if this study doesn't even acknowledge histories of oppression and their impact on Indigenous communities, how can it be validated?

Spillett says, "So much research on our community is done in a kind of a helicopter fashion where colonial tools are used to collect and interpret the research, without really looking at the community or the legacy that colonization has had."

Along with intergenerational trauma (when past trauma repeats itself within generations of a family), Spillett says we really need to take a look at the current state of Indigenous communities, such as the thousands of children in welfare systems.

The Liberal government has announced it will be holding a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The RCMP has estimated that there are at least 1200 missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada, although the Native Women's Association of Canada has put that number as high as 4,200.

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