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Aboriginal Domestic Violence Rates Much Higher Than For Non-Indigenous People: StatsCan

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Indigenous people are much more likely to experience domestic violence than non-aboriginals, suggests a new report from Statistics Canada.

The report, titled "Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2014" was released Thursday.

It shows that aboriginal respondents to the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) reported similar rates of domestic violence as they did five years prior, while incidents involving non-indigenous people appear to have fallen across the provinces.

aboriginal women
Gertrude Pierre signs a pledge to keep aboriginal women safe following a signing of a memorandum of understanding in North Vancouver, B.C. on June 13, 2014. Pierre's niece Cheryl Ann Joe was murdered in Jan. 1992 and was remembered by her family as First Nations groups pledged to end violence against aboriginal women and girls. (Photo: Jonathan Hayward/CP)

The 2014 GSS focused on victimization, and it spoke to Canadians aged 15 years or older in the provinces and the territories. Statistics Canada spoke with 33,127 people by telephone and had them answer questions online.

Nine per cent of indigenous respondents said they were victims of spousal violence in 2014, compared to 10 per cent in 2009.

That's more than double the number of non-indigenous people (four per cent) who reported family violence in those years.

At 10 per cent, indigenous women were more than three times more likely to report abuse than non-aboriginal women (three per cent).

A similar gap was apparent when looking at the percentage of people who said they experienced spousal abuse throughout their lives, with a decreased percentage in non-indigenous people (6 per cent in 2009 to 4 per cent in 2014), but only a one per cent decrease for indigenous people, from 10 per cent to 9 per cent.

Forty per cent of people who identified as indigenous said they were physically or sexually abused as children. That was far more than the 29 per cent of non-indigenous people who reported family violence.

Overall, reports of family violence in the GSS, appear to be falling when accounting for all Canadians.

The 2014 GSS showed four per cent of people reporting they had been victims of abuse, compared to seven per cent a decade prior.

The percentage of spouses who experienced domestic violence fell in every province except for Prince Edward Island over the same time period, according to the report.

Statistics for the territories were not included.

Statistics Canada's report also showed women and men reporting equal levels of domestic violence, at four per cent each, the report said.

But that statistic was challenged by Lesley Lindberg, executive director of Winnipeg's Willow Place shelter for women and children.

"We are not seeing men reporting they are victims of spousal violence with the same frequency as women," she told CBC News.

"It is nowhere close to 50-50. Of the numbers calling the provincial crisis number, 6,000 calls, only 200 were forwarded to the men's resource centre."

The report also showed that women experienced more serious forms of violence, such as beatings, choking and sexual assault. They were twice as likely to report this kind of violence as men were, although males reported higher rates of being bitten, hit or kicked.

Nearly half of domestic violence victims said they were abused once between 2009 and 2014, and more than a third (35 per cent) said they experienced violence between two and 10 times.

Approximately 20 per cent of victims said they experienced domestic violence more than 10 times.

Police were not notified about the violence in 70 per cent of cases.

cee jai julian
Cee Jai Julian, left, sings at the People's Gathering for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls at Carleton University in Ottawa on Feb. 27, 2015. (Photo: Patrick Doyle/CP)

The report comes as the federal government prepares to hold an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

A pre-inquiry phase involving consultations with victims' families is expected to last until the summer, CTV News reported.

Here is the Statistics Canada report, visualized as an infographic:

Click for full size.

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The GSS is a series of cross-sectional surveys that cover one topic at a time. It aims to "gather data on social trends in order to monitor changes in the living conditions and well being of Canadians," according to Statistics Canada.

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