Support journalism that lights the way through the climate crisis

Goal: $100k

After the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women released its final report this week, you may have seen a statistic claiming Indigenous men killed 70 per cent of murdered Indigenous women.

The number was cited by white nationalist Faith Goldy, former editor-in-chief of The Walrus magazine Jonathan Kay and reams of others on social media who sought to undermine the report's finding that Canada's treatment of Indigenous people is genocide.

Problem is, there’s no published research that supports the figure. It's based on years of sloppily collected RCMP data that doesn't examine the actual problems underlying violence against Indigenous women, and is grounded in racist assumptions about Indigenous people.

"What we have is people cherrypicking evidence and choosing evidence that supports their point of view without sharing with the public the limitations of what they're relying on, or putting that information in context," said Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and member of the Gitksan First Nation.

"It's really disturbing to me, because how are we to engender an understanding in Canadians about the experiences and the contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people when there's this kind of fabricated evidence being shared around?"

The federal government began the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in late 2015, and appointed five commissioners the following August. For three years, the inquiry studied systemic violence against Indigenous women and girls, delivering its final report and recommendations Monday.

The final report included an entire section devoted to debunking the 70 per cent figure: "The often-cited statistic that Indigenous men are responsible for 70 per cent of murders of Indigenous women and girls is not factually based," it concluded.

According to the inquiry, the statistic first surfaced in March 2015 when then-Indigenous affairs minister Bernard Valcourt mentioned it in a meeting with several chiefs in Calgary, several months after claiming the issue with on-reserve violence was a lack of respect for women. The next month, then-RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson released a statement confirming the stat. However, the RCMP never divulged how it arrived at the number, which was never included in any official reports.

On Friday, reacting to a news story based on an advanced copy of the MMWIG report, Valcourt said on Twitter that the findings were "propagandist" and said it had come to a "thunderous silly conclusion." (The Conservative party later distanced itself, with Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, the shadow minister of Indigenous affairs, tweeting that Valcourt's comments were "unacceptable" and didn't represent the party's views.)

Have you seen the claim that Indigenous men killed 70 per cent of murdered Indigenous women? It's false, and relies on inaccurate data and racist assumptions. #cdnpoli #MMIWG

The inquiry's report also noted that, up until very recently, RCMP didn't even record whether victims or offenders were Indigenous. And such data that does exist was reported inconsistently. "The RCMP have not proven to Canada that they are capable of holding themselves to account — and, in fact, many of the truths shared here speak to ongoing issues of systemic and individual racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination that prevent honest oversight from taking place," the report said.

The 70 per cent figure also fails to account for the numerous missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls whose deaths weren't recorded as homicides, and leaves out unsolved cases, the inquiry found. After reviewing cases, the inquiry "believes that there were repeated instances... of police mischaracterizing disappearances and deaths as 'not suspicious," the report said.

"The fact is, that number is not substantiated," said commissioner Qajaq Robinson, a Nunavut-raised lawyer, who is not Indigenous. "It's also quite concerning that (this) kind of number and that kind of determination is being made when it's so clear that the data is incredibly unreliable."

Underlying the spread of the 70 per cent myth is a racist assumption that Indigenous people are inherently violent or uncivil, said Robert Henry, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary who studies Indigenous justice issues. It allows people who believe it to blame Indigenous men rather than examining their own roles in colonialism as it manifests today — something that must happen if society is to change in any meaningful way, he added.

"(The false statistic) maintains the idea that Indigenous men and Indigenous people are ... doing it to themselves and it's not part of the larger structural issues of colonialism that have impacted Indigenous people," Henry said. "We need the broader Canadian society to unlearn what we've learned and understand that we're all complicit in this."

Though it's wonderful that Canadians are engaging with the ideas in the report, Robinson said, it's "quite concerning" that some are quibbling over the finer points rather than figuring how to fix the enormous problems at play.

"Making those kinds of statements is dangerous and it mischaracterizes the situation," she added. "Debating semantics isn't going to get us there."

After the inquiry's final report was released, current RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki promised that the organization would review its findings and recommendations.

Violence does happen between Indigenous men and women, said Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, but it's also important to understand the role intergenerational trauma caused by colonialism plays in that violence — the effects of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, among other things, contribute to the cycle of violence.

The inquiry report also said men's healing must be part of the reconciliation process.

"It's not to excuse the behaviour," Blackstock said. "People need to be accountable and that behavior needs to end, but it is an additional contextual factor."

Keep reading

I have followed this story with concern for the safety of indigenous women. Not in depth as there are so many other topics if interest in the news. But I am now confused. I never thought to ask who specifically did the killing as a group. I never heard about the 70% number. I never thought about violence by indigenous men against indigenous women until this article. But now that I read the article I am wondering more about what that number refers to in the RCMP report. I see our concern over colonialism and our indirect responsibility in disrupting a way of life, but then is it true that indigenous men do such killing more?! I somehow always thought it was deep anger against women and/or racism by some men who likely did this. Regardless of ethnicity. So what is the truth behind the 70%, if any?!

The article above is clear, you ask what the number referred to in the RCMP report, but that cannot be answered because the number was never included in any RCMP report.

Also, the premise of the article is that the 70% statistic is not true, and the article makes it's case, so it is a bit concerning that you ask for the truth behind the statistic, if any.

Dennis, very well said. This article is clearly written to debunk myths about the false 70% statistic ( which is not an actual statistic b/c it was not gathered from a critical analysis of data). The underlying egregious issue is that perpetuating this false narrative detracts from taking accountability for the larger issue of assimilation and the annihilation of Indigenous culture and peoples. Therein lies the need for accountability for historical injustice.

It's indigenous men who are pimping out indigenous girls in Wpg, and indigenous families, who after the fact of a death/suspicious murder profess to have loved those girls so much, yet even in the case of Tina who was put on a bus alone at age 12 to the city to see her drug addicted mother that love doesn't seem to include actual care.

Finally, some sad reality and truth that no one wants to talk about.

I think you Dennis and the article miss the point. We just had a 92 million dollar investigation into missing MMIWG. We have a hastily derived figure of 70% that may not be accurate. The inquirers disagrees with that figure. However for a very obvious reason didn't investigate as to what the number was. In otherworld they have come to many solutions but haven't even investigated the problem. Similarly they come to the conclusion that 1000s of other women have also been murdered but have gone unaccounted. A derived this from what? Pure conjecture.

For 92 million dollars I believe of the known solved cases it should be clear what percentage of murderd indigenous women are carried out by indigenous persons, why not start there this investigation is a sham!

After two hundred years, everything is still blamed on colonialism. I have spoken with band council members on many occasions both in Calgary and in Winnipeg and they would tell you candidly that indigenous males account for the majority of killings. The article merely says the stats are not tracked but does not deny who the majority of the killers are. This is not some genocide that people label it to be but real challenges within the First Nations community. Sorry, people can get angry if they want but that is the truth. The police know who the killers are, its in every report. They simply don't want to stir the pot because they don't have 'official' stats and its not 'politically correct'.

WRONG!! The numbers WERE published in a 2014 RCMP report titled Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview. The report very clearly provides the numbers and supporting documentation behind its numbers. FAR better that the current report compiled by 4 biased lawyers with zero previous experience does. The report clearly lays out that almost all female murders are completed by known acquaintances, and that goes for ALL races. Not just Aboriginal. There is no reasonable thought processes that would dispute this. Unless Aboriginal men murder less than every other race..... the report is easy to find by Googling it. It’s evidence and stats based, and is simply ignored because it’s an inconvenient set of truths, fails to toe the politically correct line and is simply uncomfortable if you believe wholeheartedly with the “new” report. In fact, the actual stats actually show this to be a “feels” based item and agenda.

All one has to do to place the new report in the trash bin is to take an honest look at the commissioners.... who are all invested personally in this report. We wouldn’t let the RCMP write critical reports about the RCMP.... but it’s alright for the new report.

Hang on a moment. If you're right that the stat is an artifact of people mostly being murdered by people close to them, then even if true it's meaningless and clearly the only reason for bringing it out is to create false impressions. On the other hand, it's quite likely to be false--the problem is precisely that indigenous women get murdered a lot more than most other people, and that excess is likely to be from other causes, that most other women don't face.
But you sound very authoritative. Have you read the report?

The number 70% may not be accurate but it is a fact that much violence against indigenous women was done by indigenous men but this inquiry was not tasked with finding out this. Instead they use powerful words like ‘genocide’ and ‘epidemic.’ Nothing at all about missing and murdered Caucasian women and girls. Unfortunately this inquiry does the opposite of reconciliation. It just reinforces false stereotypes and victimhood culture. If the goal of European colonists had really been genocide there would be no First Nations peoples left to complain about it.

Would you consider the Holocaust a genocide? I suppose not, since there are Jewish people left to complain about it.

The word genocide is also used to describe more than a loss of life at a particular time period: the loss of culture, language, ways of life, ways of being, traditional practices, land, sovereignty, basic human rights. These are all a result of colonialism, and denying the need for, or content of this report is contributing to the issue.

We, as First Nation people, weren't even allowed to adequatelyfight for our rights in court until the 80s. The last residential school didn't close until the mid nineties. There are changes happening in Canada because it's necessary. The United Nations has gotten involved because it's necessary. Reports like these are an important step on the path to reconciliation, because it's time that WE get the chance to say what WE need in order to facilitate OUR healing.

$92 million.

No more.

You claim its a fact, what are your references? especially considering most of the victims were not found and no perpetrators were found. You sound like a typical ignorant white person complaining about “victimhood” (as if victims have a choice..) while simultaneously whining about the non existent issue of “missing and mudered white women”, when things happen to white women authorities give due diligence. this is another case of “all lives matter” when it is irrelevant to make that assertion in relation to a different topic. White people get away with murder towards Indigenous and black people, Cindy Gladue is a perfect example where the perpetrator even admitted to the murder yet still acquitted.

how logical would it be for me to say “what about oranges?!” if the conversation is about apples?

Well, this ethnically European settler woman, whose ancestors started immigrating to North America in the early 1600s, was nearly punched and kicked to death by her Indigenous husband, including a kick to the belly when I was a few weeks pregnant. (Our son survived.) Just an anecdote, of course. Genocide is what happened in California in the 1840s-1850s and in the Fraser Canyon (by invaders from the USA) in 1858. Don't cheapen the term.

Dawn, Thank you for speaking truth! There is a grave bias in IPV, Intimate Partner Violence about the high ratio of agressors. We, outside of intimate relationships must be aware of being in precarious situations. I know several woman who hitchiked, and escaped with their life. One had to swim across the Thompson River in Kamloops after her ankle was ran over by the vehicle. Another accepted a ride with someone she thought she knew. The girls were not indigenous. Myself under the age of 10 by accepting ride with a salesmen I would see often at the store across from our home, as I was walking a mile home for lunch from School, escaped an abduction attempt, and later an attempted rape at the age of, 10/11 Delivering newspapers. There are some other horrible stories I was told about hitchiking. A recent error by our government in power was NoT Buying the Greyhound Bus system. This causes more risk by individuals hitchiking and taking rides offered by strangers. Air Canada and the Via Rail passenger system were all incubated by Canadian Taxpayer's.

Dawn, I am so sorry for your experience. My partner, too, was married to an indigenous man, and it didn't go well. His parents were Residential School survivors, alcoholics, and separated. Genocide isn't about killing people. It's about destroying the culture and way of life of a people that had existed here for thousands of generations. It is about dispossessing them of their lands and way of life, and to do that, you need to make them less than human. Residential schools did that work just a surely as the Smallpox, bounties, and killing the buffalo. The human wreckage left behind; the alcoholism, violence, overcrowded reserves, substandard housing, and broken families are the direct result of our attempt to destroy their culture and way of life. Yes, I believe there is a lot of healing that needs to take place, and I also believe we as a nation haven't made the commitment to make this happen.

My indigenous father constantly beat my mother, breaking bones and crippling her, terrifying us, waving guns and rifles in our faces and pointed at our heads. I know many other children now grown who can say similar. Young indigenous men in Wpg and Regina gangs pimp out their sisters and make a career of it. Me, I'm half-breed. I lived this life of a child in such a home, but I'm not murdering, pimping, or raping anyone because of it. It's men who do this, yet indigenous women like the ones above want to defend their male kin and pretend it's only white men who endanger them. The article didn't prove the stat is wrong. But we who lived it and are courageous enough to be honest know it's true, stat or nott.

My indigenous father constantly beat my mother, breaking bones and crippling her, terrifying us, waving guns and rifles in our faces and pointed at our heads. I know many other children now grown who can say similar. Young indigenous men in Wpg and Regina gangs pimp out their sisters and make a career of it. Me, I'm half-breed. I lived this life of a child in such a home, but I'm not murdering, pimping, or raping anyone because of it. It's men who do this, yet indigenous women like the ones above want to defend their male kin and pretend it's only white men who endanger them. The article didn't prove the stat is wrong. But we who lived it and are courageous enough to be honest know it's true, stat or not.

This is called willful ignorance on your part. I can bet the farm if thousands of white women disappeared without a trace, and nobody, including the police seemed to be concerned, there would have been no stone un-turned in an effort to get to the bottom of the issue and the cause. I can draw your attention to Paul Bernardo's victims: when those girls disappeared, searches went on for weeks, and the police investigation was relentless until their murderers were found and convicted.
Not that white women see their fair share of violence; they do. It's another black mark on our society that needs to be fixed. This investigation, however, was about why thousands of native women were murdered or disappeared, and nobody cared. Unfortunately, those that still cling to the colonial mindset that wish to keep our native people in social and economic bondage, will continue to niggle about minor issues and throw up strawmen, just as you have done.

Thousands of 'white' women are murdered and found dead in their homes and communities. That's the difference.

Thousands of 'white' women are murdered and found dead in their homes and communities. That's the difference.

Sure let us throw more tax payers money at the issue and let the reserves and chiefs gobble up all the funds I have been to several reserves drugs booze is rampant. Chief and council live high off the hog while others almost starve.
The big issue is there are a lot more then just indigenous women being killed. Also I would say the 70 % figure could even be higher. Gangs like NS IP Manitoba warriors and a horde of others put women to work on the street or use them to commit crimes.
Also clean up your act white man did not make you addicted to drugs or booze or your crappy life style.
I know a lot of native people that have families and pay taxes and live a good hard working life. The choices you make are yours not the white mans fault so stop the blame game. Also stop it with the Hand always out. you deserve no more then any other Canadian.

I am so ashamed of you. As i am sure your parents are as well. You went to one reserve and you know them all. How many are in Ontario? Do you even know? Do you know how many are unceded? Do you even know what that means? Y'all dont even have a clue about these people and their contributions to the economy? Do you know those first nations did not choose to settle there but were forced to live there? Many away from their original ways of life. These people were fine before we got off the boat never forget that we are white privilaged settlers. You are the reason and instigator for all this continued hate. I am truly and deeply saddened of your small minded opinion. You should educate yourself on the true history of these people and thank them for all the contributions to society today. Yes theu contributed lots to governement policy, health and now to education. And if you cant do your own research then ill be damned and we are all in for a rude awaking. Unbelievable.

Sarah, everyone knows all this now... the news media, education in schools etc is inundated with aboriginal education, but it doesn't change the facts that mostly indigenous men are committing these crimes. It is not some sort of white genocide they are claiming it to be... not today. Of course there are still residual effects but we have to move on. The real question is, what can we do to solve this.

Sarah, everyone knows all this now... the news media, education in schools etc is inundated with aboriginal education, but it doesn't change the facts that mostly indigenous men are committing these crimes. It is not some sort of white genocide they are claiming it to be... not today. Of course there are still residual effects but we have to move on. The real question is, what can we do to solve this.

I would like to add Sarah that my children do know most everything you speak about... the next generation is getting it. But can they solve the problems.. now that's another matter altogether. Past performance dictates future performance... sadly, assimilation is the only true solution. Now that doesn't mean you can't have culture halls, community centres etc where aboriginal language, music, art etc can be learned. Every nationality has all this.

from stats can. Rate of Aboriginal persons accused of homicide 12 times higher than non-Aboriginal accused persons
In 2017, 38% of persons accused of homicide were reported by police as Aboriginal, a proportion which has been increasing since 2014 when it was 31%.
27 The rate of Aboriginal persons accused of homicide in 2017 was 12 times higher compared to non-Aboriginal accused persons. This is similar to previous years where the rate for Aboriginal accused was at least 9 times higher than non-Aboriginal accused. (Table 6).
In 2017, the rate of Aboriginal males accused of homicide (18.05 per 100,000 Aboriginal males) was 11 times higher than that of non-Aboriginal males (1.69 per 100,000 non-Aboriginal males) and four times higher than the rate of Aboriginal female accused (4.33 per 100,000 Aboriginal females) (Table 6).
Aboriginal accused persons were younger than non-Aboriginal accused persons in 2017. Indeed, the average age for Aboriginal accused persons was 27 years old compared to 33 years old for non-Aboriginal (Table 7).
In 2017, Aboriginal accused were one third more likely than non-Aboriginal accused to be involved in a gang-related incident (18% of Aboriginal accused compared to 12% of non-Aboriginal accused). This differs from 2016 where both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal accused were just about as likely to be involved in a gang-related incident (15% and 17% of accused respectively). The likelihood in 2017 was, however similar to the likelihood for the previous 10 years, where 19% of Aboriginal accused were involved in a gang-related incident
28 compared to 14% of non-Aboriginal accused.

Wow, there's a loooot of people commenting here who really don't seem to like the idea of anyone but aboriginals being blamed for what happens to aboriginals. Apparently, nothing is our fault and it's just awful that we should be blamed when all we did was take all their land and all their stuff and move them around to wherever we felt like and put them in prison camps we called "residential schools" and shove them in jail and prey on them and kill them and take them away from their families and so on. And I mean, some of that stuff is in the past, they should all be perfectly fine now.

Some numbers from Statistics Canada, 2009,, and 2014:

Would have helped if this piece covered some of this, rather than saying multiple ways that the 70% has no basis. We get it. It's false and unfair. Statistics Canada is reliable, as far as it goes and perhaps better than nothing.