Victimization of Aboriginal people in Canada, 2014

by Jillian Boyce

Start of text box

Highlights

  • In 2014, a higher proportion of Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people in Canada reported being victimized in the previous 12 months. Overall, 28% of Aboriginal people living in the provinces and territories compared with 18% of non-Aboriginal people reported being the victim of one of the eight types of offences measured by the General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization. Though the fact that the Aboriginal population in Canada is younger than the non-Aboriginal population does account for some of the difference in overall victimization, it does not account for it entirely.
  • Compared with 2009, fewer Aboriginal people reported being a victim of one of the eight crimes measured by the GSS on Victimization in 2014. The proportion of Aboriginal people living in the 10 provinces that reported being a victim decreased from 38% in 2009 to 28% in 2014, while the proportion of Aboriginal victims in the Territories decreased from 36% to 28% over the same period.
  • In 2014, the overall rate of violent victimization among Aboriginal people was more than double that of non-Aboriginal people (163 incidents per 1,000 people versus 74 incidents per 1,000 people). Regardless of the type of violent offence, rates of victimization were almost always higher for Aboriginal people than for non-Aboriginal people.
  • When controlling for various risk factors, Aboriginal identity by itself did not remain associated with increasing one’s overall risk of violent victimization. Rather, the higher rates of victimization observed among Aboriginal people appeared to be related to the increased presence of other risk factors among this group—such as experiencing childhood maltreatment, perceiving social disorder in one’s neighbourhood, having been homeless, using drugs, or having fair or poor mental health.
  • According to the 2014 GSS on Victimization, Aboriginal females (220E violent incidents per 1,000 people) had an overall rate of violent victimization that was double that of Aboriginal males (110E per 1,000), close to triple that of non-Aboriginal females (81 per 1,000) and more than triple that of non-Aboriginal males (66 per 1,000).
  • High victimization rates among Aboriginal females, however, could not be fully explained by an increased presence of other victimization risk factors. Even when controlling for these risk factors, Aboriginal identity still remained a risk factor for violent victimization of females. Of note, Aboriginal females were proportionately more likely to report experiencing both physical and sexual maltreatment as a child than their male counterparts (14% versus 5%E) and they were proportionately less likely to report binge drinking or drug use in the month prior to the survey.
  • Aboriginal people (9%) were proportionately more likely than non-Aboriginal people (4%) to have been a victim of spousal violence in the past five years. Specifically, Aboriginal women (10%E) were about three times as likely to report being a victim of spousal violence as non-Aboriginal women (3%), while Aboriginal men (8%E) were twice as likely as their non-Aboriginal counterparts (4%).
  • Despite higher rates of victimization, Aboriginal victims of non-spousal violence were more likely not to report the crime to police than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. For instance, 77% of non-spousal violent incidents that were committed against Aboriginal people went unreported to the police, a figure which was higher compared to non-Aboriginal people (66%). In contrast, when considering spousal violence, Aboriginal people were proportionately more likely than non-Aboriginal people to report the violence to police (50% and 28%, respectively).

End of text box

While violence involving Aboriginal people has been the focus of social policy and research for quite some time, their overrepresentation as victims of violent crime has recently been at the forefront in Canada. Various reports have highlighted the elevated risk of victimization experienced by Aboriginal people. Examples include information produced by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Statistics Canada (Native Women’s Association of Canada 2010; The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 2015; Royal Canadian Mounted Police 2015; Royal Canadian Mounted Police 2014; Miladinovic and Mulligan 2015).

A better understanding of the extent of Aboriginal victimization—along with the context in which this violence occurs, the characteristics associated with violence and possible risk factors that contribute to violence—may help to inform prevention and policy programs. One source of information that can be used to measure violence against Aboriginal people in Canada is through the General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization. By asking respondents aged 15 years or older to recount their experiences of selected forms of both violent and non-violent victimization, this survey captures detailed information on criminal incidents that may or may not have come to the attention of police.Note 1

It is important to note, however, that understanding the victimization of Aboriginal people is complex. Part of this complexity stems from the fact that there are several factors which have been linked to victimization­—a history of childhood maltreatment, mental health problems, and substance abuse—which are more common among the Aboriginal population (Perreault 2015; Boyce et al. 2015). In addition, age has also been linked to victimization, with victimization being higher among youth and young adults and then dropping off as age increases (Perreault 2015). This is of interest since the Aboriginal population in Canada is considerably younger than the non-Aboriginal population (Statistics Canada 2015; Statistics Canada 2013). However, the link between age and victimization may not be as strong for Aboriginal people; previous research on victimization in northern communities—which typically house large Aboriginal populations—found that high victimization rates continued to persist even as age increased (Allen and Perreault 2015).

This Juristat article will use both provincial and territorial data from the 2014 GSS on Victimization to present information on Aboriginal victimization, with a particular focus on violent victimization.Note 2 Characteristics associated with these incidents, including possible risk factors as well as consequences of victimization, reasons for reporting or not reporting the victimization to the police, perceptions of personal safety and perceptions of the criminal justice system are also explored. Where possible, gender differences, as well as differences between Aboriginal people living in the provinces and territories will be highlighted.

Start of text box

Text box 1
Characteristics of Aboriginal people and the context of overrepresentation as victims

Research generally shows that Aboriginal people are overrepresented as victims of crime (Perreault 2015; Miladinovic and Mulligan 2015; The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 2015; Brennan 2011). However, data from the 10 provinces surveyed by the 2014 GSS on Victimization found that, overall, Aboriginal identity itself did not remain associated with a risk of victimization when other risk factors were taken into account (Perreault 2015). However, it is of importance to note that when women’s experiences were looked at in this way, Aboriginal identity itself did remain a key risk factor for victimization among women, even when controlling for the presence of other risk factors (Perreault 2015).

The differences in victimization rates between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people may, therefore, be related to a higher presence of risk factors among Aboriginal people, thus making them a more vulnerable population. Some of these factors may include: being young, having lower educational attainment, being unemployed, being a member of a lone-parent family or a foster child, having a mental health or substance abuse disorder, or having lifetime thoughts of suicide (Statistics Canada 2015; Statistics Canada 2013; Boyce et al. 2015; Kumar 2016).

Research to date has found that a person’s age is one of the strongest risk factors for victimization, with rates generally being highest among those between the ages of 15 and 29 and then dropping considerably beginning at age 30 (Perreault 2015). In 2011, the National Household Survey (NHS) found that the Aboriginal population continued to be considerably younger than the non-Aboriginal population. More specifically, the median age of the Aboriginal population was 28 years, which was 13 years younger than the median age of 41 years for the non-Aboriginal population (Statistics Canada 2015). Furthermore, Aboriginal people 15 to 24 years of age represented 18% of the total Aboriginal population, compared to 13% of the total non-Aboriginal population (Statistics Canada 2015). However, it is worth noting that some research suggests that the link between age and victimization may not be as strong for Aboriginal people (Allen and Perreault 2015).

Generally, Aboriginal people have completed less formal education than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. In 2011, just under half (48%) of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 reported they had a postsecondary qualification compared with almost two-thirds (65%) of non-Aboriginal people (Statistics Canada 2015). In addition, there was a difference in the proportion of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people with no high school diploma or equivalent—29% of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 had no high school diploma or equivalent compared with 12% of non-Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 (Statistics Canada 2015).

Unemployment is also higher among Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people. In 2011, the NHS found an employment rate of 62.5% among Aboriginal people of core working age (25 years to 64 years) compared with 75.8% for non-Aboriginal people (Statistics Canada 2015). However, the employment gap between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people narrowed to five percentage points (76.2% and 81.1%, respectively) when comparisons were limited to those with a high school diploma and a postsecondary qualification (Statistics Canada 2015).

Since an individual’s income is largely dependent on factors such as one’s level of education and employment status, as well as opportunity for employment, it is not surprising that Aboriginal people also tend to have lower incomes than non-Aboriginal people. In 2010, the median after-tax income for Aboriginal people was just over $20,000 compared to $27,600 for their non-Aboriginal counterparts (Statistics Canada 2015).

Families that included both parents (biological or adoptive) were proportionately the most common among Aboriginal children (49.6%) and non-Aboriginal children (76.0%) (Statistics Canada 2015; Turner 2016). However, Aboriginal children were more likely than non-Aboriginal children to live in a lone-parent family (34.4% versus 17.4%), be stepchildren (8.5% versus 5.8%), live with grandparents with no parent present (2.7% versus 0.4%), or live with other relatives (1.2% versus 0.2%). In addition, results from the 2011 NHS revealed that just over 14,000 Aboriginal children aged 14 and younger (almost 4% of Aboriginal children) were living in foster care,Note 3 which was 10 times the proportion among non-Aboriginal children (0.3% of non-Aboriginal children) (Statistics Canada 2015; Turner 2016).

While the NHS did not collect information on the mental health of Canadians, the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health (CCHS – MH) did collect this type of information. Results from the CCHS – MH found that the overall rate of select mental or substance use disorders in the 12 months preceding the survey was higher among Canadians who self-identified as Aboriginal than non-Aboriginal (15.2% versus 11.2%) (Boyce et al. 2015).Note 4 A higher prevalence of mental health or substance use disorders may also partly explain the higher lifetime suicidal thoughts reported by Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people (Kumar 2016).

For more information about the characteristics of Aboriginal people in Canada, see “Aboriginal Statistics at a Glance: 2nd Edition” (Statistics Canada 2015).

End of text box

Overall victimization higher among Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people

In 2014, approximately 275,000 Aboriginal peopleNote 5 aged 15 and older, or more than one-quarter (28%) of Aboriginal people aged 15 and older overall, reported that they or their household had been a victim of at least one of the eight types of offences measured by the GSS on Victimization in the previous 12 months. This was a significantly higher proportion than for non-Aboriginal people (18%). The fact that the Aboriginal population is younger than the non-Aboriginal population—and victimization has been associated with being younger—accounts for some of this difference, though it does not account for it entirely. In essence, if the Aboriginal population had the same age composition as the non-Aboriginal population, the proportion of Aboriginal victims would be slightly lower; however, it would still remain higher than that of the non-Aboriginal population.

Not only was the proportion of self-reported victimization higher among Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people, but they were also more likely to report having been victimized more than once in the 12 months preceding the survey. Specifically, in 2014, Aboriginal people were twice as likely as non-Aboriginal people to report experiencing two or more violent and/or household victimizations in the previous 12 months (12% and 6%, respectively).

When considering rates of victimization, overall rates for both violent and household victimization were significantly higher among Aboriginal people compared with non-Aboriginal people (Table 1). In 2014, the overall rate of violence among Aboriginal people was more than double that of non-Aboriginal people (163 violent incidents per 1,000 people versus 74 violent incidents per 1,000 people), while the overall rate of household victimization was more than one and a half times higher for Aboriginal households than non-Aboriginal households (244 incidents per 1,000 households versus 138 incidents per 1,000 households).Note 6

Compared with the rest of the Canadian population, First Nations people had a significantly higher rate of violent victimization at 213E incidents per 1,000 people (Table 2).Note 7 While rates of overall violence appeared to be higher for Métis people (117E per 1,000) and Inuit people (159E per 1,000) when compared with the rest of Canada,Note 8 these differences were not found to be statistically significant.

Regardless of the type of offence, rates of victimization in the provinces and territories were almost always higher for Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people. For instance, the sexual assault rate for Aboriginal people (58E incidents per 1,000 people) was almost three times that of non-Aboriginal people (20 per 1,000), while Aboriginal peoples’ rate of physical assault (90E per 1,000) was close to double that of non-Aboriginal people (47 per 1,000) (Chart 1). While the rate of robbery appeared to be higher for Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people, these differences were not found to be statistically significant.

Chart 1

Description for Chart 1
Chart 1
Violent victimization incidents (including spousal violence) reported by Canadians, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and type of violent offence, provinces and territories, 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Violent victimization incidents (including spousal violence) reported by Canadians Aboriginal people and Non-Aboriginal people, calculated using rate per 1,000 population aged 15 years and older units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Aboriginal people Non-Aboriginal peopleNote 
rate per 1,000 population aged 15 years and older
Total violent victimization 163Note * 74
Sexual assault 58Note E: Use with caution Note * 20
Robbery 15Note E: Use with caution 6
Physical assault 90Note E: Use with caution Note * 47

Start of text box

Text box 2
Overall victimization of Aboriginal people living in the ten Provinces or the three Territories, 2009 and 2014

Since this is the first time that data from the GSS on Victimization collected from the provinces and the territories have been combined for analysis,Note 9 it is not possible to compare victimization over time. It remains important, however, to know whether or not victimization among Aboriginal people has been increasing or decreasing, and whether or not this is consistent with findings among non-Aboriginal people. It is possible to analyze 2009 and 2014 GSS on Victimization data from the provinces and territories separately in order to shed some light on this topic.Note 10

Provinces

In 2014, 28% of Aboriginal people living in the 10 provinces reported that they or their household had been the victim of at least one of the eight types of offences measured by the GSS on Victimization in the 12 months preceding the survey. This was down from 2009, when 38% of Aboriginal people reported having been a victim of crime. Similar downward trends were recorded for the non-Aboriginal population, where the proportion of people who reported that they or their household had been the victim of at least one of the eight crimes decreased from 26% in 2009 to 18% in 2014.

With the exception of overall household victimization, no statistically significant differences were noted in the change in rates for specific offences recorded for Aboriginal people in 2014 compared with 2009 (Text box 2, table 1). In contrast, non-Aboriginal people saw a decrease in rates for seven of the eight offence types between 2009 and 2014.

Territories

In the Territories, 28% of Aboriginal people reported being a victim of one of the eight types of offences measured by the GSS on Victimization in 2014, which was down from 36% in 2009. While the proportion of non-Aboriginal people living in the territories who reported being a victim of one of the eight crimes in 2014 appeared to be less than in 2009 (28% versus 33%), this difference was not statistically significant.

Changes in victimization rates for specific offences between 2009 and 2014 were not found to be statistically significant for Aboriginal people living in the territories (Text box 2, table 2). For non-Aboriginal people, however, the rate of overall household victimization decreased between 2009 and 2014 (315 incidents per 1,000 households and 232 incidents per 1,000 households, respectively). In contrast, non-Aboriginal people in the territories saw an increase in their rate of theft of personal property, up from 89E incidents per 1,000 people in 2009 to 166 incidents per 1,000 people in 2014.

Text box 2, table 1 Victimization incidents (including spousal violence) reported by Canadians living in the 10 provinces, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and type of offence, provinces, 2009 and 2014

Text box 2, table 2 Victimization incidents (including spousal violence) reported by Canadians living in the territories, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and type of offence, territories, 2009 and 2014

End of text box

Characteristics of Aboriginal victims of violent crimes

The risk of being the victim of a violent crime is not the same for everyone. There are a number of factors which have been linked to a higher risk of violent victimization, with Aboriginal identity being one of them (Scrim 2009). As previously discussed, the overall rate of violent victimization was higher for Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people.

However, when controlling for various risk factors—such as childhood maltreatment, drug use, a history of homelessness and poor mental health—previous research using GSS Victimization data from the 10 provinces found that Aboriginal identity on its own did not stand out as a characteristic linked to a higher risk of victimization (Perreault 2015). Said otherwise, higher rates of victimization among Aboriginal people appeared to be explained by the increased presence of these aforementioned risk factors among this group. It is of importance to note, however, that when carrying out this same analysis only for females, Aboriginal identity did remain a risk factor for victimization (Perreault 2015). In this report a comparable analysis was done combining data from both the provinces and territories—thus providing a larger sample of Aboriginal people—and similar results were found.

Building on these findings and using 2014 GSS Victimization data from the provinces and territories, a multivariate analysis which considered Aboriginal identity and sex in conjunction with one another was conducted (Model 1). The following section highlights those characteristics that were associated with a higher risk of violent victimization even after other risk factors measured by the survey were taken into account. In order to try and understand the overall higher rates of victimization among Aboriginal people—especially Aboriginal females—whether or not those factors measured by the GSS on Victimization were more prevalent among the Aboriginal population will also be explored. It is important to note that some societal factors could not be controlled for within this analysis, such as the impact of residential schools on Aboriginal families and communities.

Risk of violent victimization remains for Aboriginal females even when controlling for other factors

Aboriginal females (220E incidents per 1,000 people) had an overall rate of violent victimization that was double that of Aboriginal males (110E per 1,000), close to triple that of non-Aboriginal females (81 per 1,000) and more than triple that of non-Aboriginal males (66 per 1,000) (Table 3). The overall rate of victimization became even higher when considering Aboriginal females between the ages of 15 and 24, who had a violent victimization rate of 613E incidents per 1,000 people—more than triple that of non-Aboriginal females aged 15 to 24 (196 per 1,000). This was the second highest rate among both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people within this age group (Chart 2).

Chart 2

Description for Chart 2
Chart 2 Violent victimization incidents (including spousal) reported by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, by sex and age group, provinces and territories, 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Chart 2 Violent victimization incidents (including spousal) reported by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people Aboriginal males, Aboriginal females, Non-Aboriginal males and Non-Aboriginal females, calculated using rate per 1,000 population aged 15 years and older units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Aboriginal males Aboriginal femalesNote  Non-Aboriginal males Non-Aboriginal females
rate per 1,000 population aged 15 years and older
15 to 24 105Note E: Use with caution Note * 613Note E: Use with caution 115Note * 196Note *
25 to 44 113Note E: Use with caution 160Note E: Use with caution 87 97
45 and older Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published 37 40

Even when controlling for other risk factors, including age, Aboriginal identity remained a risk factor for the violent victimization of females—which was not the case for males (Model 1). Said otherwise, when controlling for various risk factors, Aboriginal males were no longer at a higher risk of violent victimization than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Rather, their overall higher rates of victimization could be explained in part by a higher presence of known risk factors compared with non-Aboriginal people. In contrast, Aboriginal females’ higher risk of violent victimization could not be completely explained by the factors measured by the GSS on Victimization.

Childhood maltreatment associated with victimization

For many of the factors associated with violent victimization, such as drinking or drug use, it is not clear whether it was these behaviours or the violent victimization that happened first. This means that policies and programs which target these factors will not necessarily prevent future victimization. However, knowing that childhood maltreatment remained a risk factor for violent victimization even when controlling for other factors is of importance since, for almost all respondents, maltreatment during childhood would have preceded the victimization reported through the 2014 GSS on Victimization.

Relative to their non-Aboriginal counterparts, a higher proportion of Aboriginal people reported experiencing some form of childhood physical and/or sexual maltreatment before the age of 15 (29% and 40%, respectively).Note 11 It is possible that some of the childhood maltreatment experienced by Aboriginal people may have been a direct or indirect result of the residential school system. While the last residential school was closed 30 years ago, research suggests that the residential school system not only impacted those who were forced to attend, but also had an effect on many generations of Aboriginal adults and their children (The Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Canada 2015; Arriagada 2016). The questions pertaining to childhood maltreatment on the survey, however, do not capture this information.

While there were no significant differences in the overall proportion of Aboriginal males and females who reported experiencing childhood maltreatment (39% and 42%, respectively), differences in the types of maltreatment they experienced did exist. A higher proportion of Aboriginal females than males reported experiencing both physical and sexual maltreatment before the age of 15 (14% and 5%E, respectively), while a higher proportion of Aboriginal males than females reported experiencing childhood physical maltreatment only (31% and 21%, respectively) (Chart 3). This is of particular interest since those who experienced physical maltreatment but not sexual maltreatment during childhood were at a significantly lower risk of victimization than those who experienced both physical and sexual maltreatment as a child (Model 1).

Chart 3

Description for Chart 3
Chart 3 Childhood maltreatment by an adult (before age 15) among Aboriginal people, by sex and type of maltreatment, provinces and territories, 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Chart 3 Childhood maltreatment by an adult (before age 15) among Aboriginal people Aboriginal males and Aboriginal females, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Aboriginal malesNote  Aboriginal females
percent
Total, physical or
sexual maltreatment
39 42
Physical
maltreatment only
31 21Note *
Sexual
maltreatment only
Note F: too unreliable to be published 7
Physical and
sexual maltreatment
5Note E: Use with caution 14Note *

When considering the relationship between the adult and child in incidents of physical maltreatment during childhood, both Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people most frequently reported a family member as the adult involved (74% and 70%, respectively). Of note, however, is that a higher proportion of Aboriginal females reported a family member as the adult involved in incidents of childhood physical maltreatment, compared to Aboriginal males (82% versus 67%). This was also true for non-Aboriginal people. In incidents of childhood maltreatment of a sexual nature, either a family member (44%) or an acquaintance (35%) was most commonly reported as the adult involved for both Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people (37% and 38%, respectively).Note 12

Aboriginal people more likely to have characteristics associated with a risk of violent victimization

In addition to childhood maltreatment, several other factors remained associated with victimization, such as: drug use, binge drinking, a history of homelessness, fair or poor mental health, perceiving social disorder in one’s neighbourhood, having some form of disability, and engaging in a high amount of evening activities per month (Model 1). As previously discussed, it is important to remember that causation cannot be determined from this analysis, meaning that the selected characteristic(s) did not necessarily precede the violent victimization—it is in fact quite possible that the victimization may have come before these behaviours.

Relative to their non-Aboriginal counterparts, Aboriginal people were proportionately more likely to possess several characteristics that were associated with a risk of violent victimization (Table 4). For instance, Aboriginal people were: 2.5 times more likely to report having ever been homeless or temporarily having to live with someone, 2.4 times more likely to report using drugs during the month prior to the survey, almost 2 times more likely to report fair or poor mental health, about 1.4 times more likely to perceive social disorder in their neighbourhood, 1.3 times more likely to have a disability, 1.3 times more likely to participate in more than 20 evening activities per month, and 1.2 times more likely to have engaged in binge drinking during the month prior to the survey. As such, rates of victimization were often higher for these subsets of the Aboriginal population relative to their Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal counterparts (Table 5; Table 6; Table 7).

Looking at these selected characteristics among the Aboriginal population, a higher proportion of Aboriginal males than females reported using drugs (21% versus 10%), binge drinking (37% versus 23%) and participating in more than 20 nightly activities per month (38% versus 25%) (Table 8, Chart 4). In contrast, having some form of disability, as well as history of childhood maltreatment involving both physical and sexual maltreatment, were more common among Aboriginal females than Aboriginal males.Note 13 As mentioned previously, consideration of these risk factors in conjunction with one another helped explain higher victimization rates for Aboriginal males; however, they could not fully explain high victimization rates seen among Aboriginal females. As such, there are still factors at play that put Aboriginal females at a higher risk for violent victimization, highlighting the need for more research.

Chart 4

Description for Chart 4
Chart 4 Presence of selected social characteristics, by Aboriginal males and Aboriginal females, provinces and territories, 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Chart 4 Presence of selected social characteristics Aboriginal males and Aboriginal females, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Aboriginal malesNote  Aboriginal females
percent
Perceives social disorder in neighbourhoodNote 7 29 35
Has a disabilityNote 6 27 37Note *
Fair or poor self-rated mental healthNote 5 10Note E: Use with caution 9
Has been homelessNote 4 21 19
More than 20 evening activities in past month 38 25Note *
Drug use in past monthNote 3 21 10Note *
Binge drank in past monthNote 2 37 23Note *
Physically and sexually maltreated by an adult before age 15Note 1 5 14Note *

Start of text box

Text box 3
Canada’s Provincial North

While police-reported crime statistics and self-reported victimization studies show that levels of crime tend to be higher in the Territories than in the rest of Canada, the Territories are not the only regions of Canada’s north where crime is an issue. Communities in the northern regions of the western provinces, northern Ontario, northern Quebec and northern Newfoundland and Labrador share many similarities with their neighbours further north, including a common concern over high crime rates (Allen and Perrault 2015).

This is of concern when considering victimization of Aboriginal people, since Aboriginal people comprise a large portion of the population in some regions of the Provincial North and the Territories. For instance, according to the 2011 National Household Survey, Aboriginal people accounted for the majority of the population in northern Saskatchewan (87%), Nunavut (86%), northern Manitoba (69%) and the Northwest Territories (52%) (Allen and Perreault 2015). In contrast, in Yukon (23%), northern British Columbia (19%), northern Alberta (17%), northern Ontario and northern Quebec (both 13%), Aboriginal people made up less than one-quarter of the total population. In northern Newfoundland and Labrador, the proportion was 44% (Allen and Perreault 2015).

Using provincial and territorial data from the GSS on Victimization, it is possible to compare the overall rate of violent victimization among Aboriginal people residing in Canada’s provincial north and territories with Aboriginal people residing in Canada’s provincial south. While it appeared that rates of violent victimization were slightly higher for Aboriginal people in the provincial north and territories (173E incidents per 1,000 people) than Aboriginal people in the provincial south (159E incidents per 1,000 people), these differences were not found to be statistically significant.

For more information about crime in Canada’s Provincial North and Territories, see “Police-reported crime in Canada’s Provincial North and Territories, 2013” (Allen and Perreault 2015).

Spousal violence

The GSS on Victimization also collects information on spousal violence.Note 14 For the purpose of this report, spousal violence refers to the act of physical assault and/or sexual assault committed by a current or former spouse or common-law partner. Due to a small sample size when analyzing spousal violence among Aboriginal people, this analysis focuses on spousal violence that occurred in the five years preceding the survey in order to allow for more details to be presented.

Aboriginal people more likely to experience spousal violence

Similar to overall violence, in 2014, Aboriginal people were proportionately more likely than non-Aboriginal people to report being the victim of a physical or sexual assault by their spouse or common-law partner in the five years preceding the survey. More specifically, Aboriginal people (9%) were more than twice as likely as non-Aboriginal people (4%) to report being a victim of spousal violence in the five years preceding the survey (Chart 5). When considering Aboriginal people living in the provinces compared with Aboriginal people living in the territories, the proportion experiencing spousal violence was significantly higher in the territories (18%) than the provinces (9%).

Chart 5

Description for Chart 5
Chart 5 Self-reported spousal violent victimizations in the preceding five years, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and sex, provinces and territories, 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Chart 5 Self-reported spousal violent victimizations in the preceding five years Aboriginal people and Non-Aboriginal people, calculated using proportion of victims (percent) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Aboriginal people Non-Aboriginal peopleNote 
proportion of victims (percent)
Total 9Note * 4
Women 10Note E: Use with caution Note * 3
Men 8Note E: Use with caution Note * 4

Aboriginal women were at greater risk than non-Aboriginal women of being victims of spousal violence. More specifically, Aboriginal women (10%E) were about three times as likely to report being a victim of spousal violence as non-Aboriginal women (3%) (Chart 5). Aboriginal males (8%E) were twice as likely to report being a victim of spousal violence as their non-Aboriginal counterparts (4%). Both Aboriginal females (19%) and Aboriginal males (18%E) residing in the territories reported higher proportions of spousal violence than Aboriginal females (10%E) and Aboriginal males (8%E) residing in the provinces.

Based on findings from the 2014 GSS on Victimization, Aboriginal spousal violence victims were more likely than their non-Aboriginal counterparts to have experienced violence more than once. In 2014, just under one-third (31%E) of Aboriginal victims of spousal violence reported being victimized one time during the five years preceding the survey compared to almost half (48%) of non-Aboriginal victims of spousal violence. In addition, a higher proportion of Aboriginal victims of spousal violence (54%) also reported being a victim of one of the eight other types of offences measured by the GSS on Victimization than their non-Aboriginal counterparts (36%).

Half of Aboriginal spousal violence victims report experiencing most severe forms of violence

When considering the forms of spousal violence experienced, half (51%) of Aboriginal victims of spousal violence reported experiencing what may be considered the most severe forms of spousal violence (i.e., having been sexually assaulted, beaten, choked or threatened with a gun or knife) compared with just under one-quarter (23%) of non-Aboriginal victims of spousal violence. While 60%E of Aboriginal females who experienced spousal violence reported experiencing what may be considered the most severe forms compared with 41%E of Aboriginal males, this difference was not found to be statistically significant. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of non-Aboriginal females than non-Aboriginal males reported experiencing what may be considered the most severe forms of spousal violence (32% versus 15%E). The remainder of spousal violence victims reported one of the following as the most serious type of spousal violence experienced: being threatened, having something thrown at oneself, being pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped, or having been kicked, bit, or hit with something.

Despite differences in the forms of spousal violence experienced, Aboriginal spousal violence victims and their non-Aboriginal counterparts generally reported suffering similar consequences as a result of the abuse. For instance, a common emotional response reported by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal victims of spousal violence was feeling upset, confused or frustrated (39%E and 37%, respectively). While 45%E of Aboriginal spousal violence victims reported physical injuries resulting from the abuse compared with 30% of non-Aboriginal victims, these differences were not found to be statistically significant.

Aboriginal victims more likely to report spousal violence to police

When it came to reporting spousal violence, Aboriginal people were proportionately more likely than non-Aboriginal people to report the violence to police. Overall, in half (50%) of spousal violence cases involving an Aboriginal victim, the abuse was reported to police; this was the case for less than one-third (28%) of spousal violence cases involving non-Aboriginal victims. Aboriginal people were also proportionately more likely than non-Aboriginal people to speak about the spousal violence with someone else (92% versus 66%). More specifically, a higher proportion of Aboriginal spousal violence victims than non-Aboriginal spousal violence victims reported speaking about the violence with a family member (79% and 53%, respectively) or a spiritual leader (22%E and 6%E, respectively).

In addition to receiving assistance from the police or accessing other sources of support, victims of spousal violence may utilize various services for victims, such as crisis centres, shelters, victim assistance programs, etc., if these are available in their communities. Among Aboriginal people, close to half (47%E) of spousal violence victims reported utilizing some form of service to obtain help in the past five years, which was not statistically significantly higher than for non-Aboriginal victims of spousal violence (35%).

Characteristics of non-spousal violent incidents and the impact of victimization

Respondents of the GSS on Victimization who reported being a victim of a violent crime in the 12 months prior to the survey were asked to provide details on the nature of the incidents they had experienced. This information can help shed light on the context in which violent incidents occur. Since characteristics of spousal violence incidents were discussed in the spousal violence section of the report, they are excluded from the analysis below.Note 15

Characteristics of non-spousal violent victimizations are similar for incidents involving Aboriginal victims and non-Aboriginal victims

Few differences existed in incident characteristics when comparing violent incidents involving Aboriginal victims and non-Aboriginal victims. Overall, in 2014, the majority of non-spousal violent incidents against Aboriginal people involved one offender (71%), which was similar for non-spousal violent incidents against non-Aboriginal people (75%) (Table 9). Just over half (55%) of Aboriginal victims reported that they knew their attacker, which was not statistically different from non-Aboriginal victims of non-spousal violence (43%).Note 16

In addition, as is typically the case with violent crime in general (Brennan 2012), most offenders involved in violent incidents against Aboriginal people were male (91%), which again, was similar for non-Aboriginal people (86%). Similarly, just like most violent victimizations do not involve the use of a weapon (Cotter 2014), this was also true for victimizations against Aboriginal people, in which three-quarters (75%) of violent incidents did not involve a weapon. Similar findings were recorded for the non-Aboriginal population, in which 69% of incidents did not involve a weapon.

Similar to incidents involving non-Aboriginal victims, the majority of incidents involving Aboriginal victims took place either in a residence (48%E) or a commercial/institutional establishment (41%E) (Table 9). Of note, however, is that a smaller proportion of incidents involving an Aboriginal victim took place in the street or some other public place compared with incidents involving a non-Aboriginal victim (11%E versus 22%).

Based on findings from the 2014 GSS on Victimization, one area in which incident characteristics differed among non-spousal violent victimization of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people was related to the offender’s alcohol or drug use. Among Aboriginal people that were the victim of a non-spousal violent crime, about 7 in 10 (69%) reported that they believed the incident was related to the offender’s alcohol or drug use, which was higher than for non-Aboriginal victims (52%) (Table 9).

No physical injuries reported among majority of Aboriginal victims

Victimization can have multiple consequences, from physical injury to psychological impacts and disruption of one’s daily life. Information on the impact of victimization can help determine victims’ needs. According to the 2014 GSS on Victimization, the majority of Aboriginal victims in a non-spousal violent incident reported no physical injuries (83%) (Table 9). This was similar to incidents involving non-Aboriginal victims (80%).

The majority of victims did, however, appear to be impacted emotionally by the victimization. More specifically, just over three-quarters (77%) of Aboriginal victims reported being affected emotionally by the incident. Some of the most common emotional reactions among Aboriginal victims included feeling angry (32%E), or feeling upset, confused or frustrated (22%E). Similar findings were also recorded among non-Aboriginal victims.

Victims who reported that they had been affected emotionally were asked subsequent questions on the long-term effects of victimization, which are based on the Primary Care Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Screen. These questions included experiencing any of the following in the month prior to the survey: having nightmares about the victimization or thinking about it when you did not want to; trying hard not to think about the victimization or going out of your way to avoid situations that remind you of it; feeling constantly on guard, watchful or easily startled; feeling numb or detached from others, activities or your surroundings. While it is not possible to diagnose PTSD based on the results of these questions, they can provide insight into the long-term effects of victimization. Almost one in two (48%E) Aboriginal victims of violent crime reported feeling at least one of these four long-term effects, which was not significantly different from non-Aboriginal victims (34%). However, a higher proportion of Aboriginal victims (34%E) than non-Aboriginal victims (12%) reported feeling at least three of these effects, which fits the criteria indicating that PTSD is suspected. Among the long-term effects measured, a higher proportion of Aboriginal victims reported feeling numb or detached from others and activities than was reported by non-Aboriginal victims (36%E versus 11%E).

In addition, as a result of the non-spousal violent incident they experienced, just over one-quarter (27%E) of Aboriginal victims were unable to continue their daily activities for at least one day, because they needed to receive care for an injury, regroup emotionally, take legal action, or for some other reason. This was not significantly different from non-Aboriginal victims (25%).

Reporting of non-spousal violent victimization to police or others

While a certain proportion of criminal incidents never come to the attention of police (Perreault 2015; Sinha 2015), the GSS on Victimization collects information on self-reported victimization, regardless of whether or not the incident becomes known to police. It also asks victims about assistance from other formal services, such as crisis centres, victims’ services, women’s centres, psychologists or social workers, where available. A better understanding of victims’ willingness or unwillingness to report an incident and/or use services can also shed light on victims’ needs. Again, since the reporting of spousal violence incidents, as well as utilization of formal services, were discussed in the spousal violence section, they are excluded from the analysis below.Note 17

Aboriginal people proportionately more likely to have non-spousal victimization go unreported to police

Aboriginal victims were more likely not to report non-spousal violence to police than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. According to GSS on Victimization data, 77% of non-spousal violent incidents that were committed against Aboriginal people went unreported to police, a figure which was higher comparable to the non-Aboriginal people (66%). One reason for not reporting the incident to police among Aboriginal victims (27%E) and non-Aboriginal victims (29%) was that the crime was minor and not worth the time to report.

Of the incidents that did come to the attention of police, approximately half (49%E) of Aboriginal victims said that they themselves reported it to police. Common reasons for choosing to report the incident to police included feeling like it was one’s duty to notify police (94%) and to stop the incident or receive protection (81%).

While the majority of victims did not report the non-spousal violent incident to police, most did speak to someone else about the victimization, such as a family member, friend, co-worker, or a doctor or nurse. In 2014, 8 in 10 (80%) Aboriginal victims reported mentioning the incident to someone, which was not significantly different from the approximately 9 in 10 (88%) non-Aboriginal victims who reported speaking of the incident to someone else. Overall, Aboriginal victims most frequently chose to discuss the incident with a friend or neighbour (58%), a family member (55%), or a co-worker (40%E). Similar results were found among non-Aboriginal victims.

The majority of victims, regardless of Aboriginal identity, did not contact or access services such as crisis centres, shelters or victim assistance programs for help after experiencing non-spousal violent victimization. Overall, approximately 7 in 10 Aboriginal victims (72%) and non-Aboriginal victims (69%) did not utilize a service for help as a result of the violent incident. A common reason for not accessing services among Aboriginal victims and non-Aboriginal victims included not wanting or needing help (59% and 68%, respectively).

Start of text box

Text box 4
Aboriginal people as homicide victims

Over the last few years, the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls has been at the forefront in Canada, with national and international organizations making recommendations to address and monitor the issue (Native Women's Association of Canada 2010; Pearce 2013; Royal Canadian Mounted Police 2015; Royal Canadian Mounted Police 2014; The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 2015; United Nations 2015; United Nations 2014; Ambler 2014; Amnesty International 2014). Over this period, Statistics Canada has worked with the Canadian policing community to improve the quality of data it collects on the Aboriginal identity of both female and male victims and persons accused of homicide. This information is collected from Canadian police services and captured through Statistics Canada’s Homicide Survey.

Statistics Canada’s report “Homicide in Canada, 2014” (Miladinovic and Mulligan 2015) found that, in 2014, Aboriginal people experienced a higher risk of homicide than non-Aboriginal people. More specifically, in 2014, Aboriginal people were victims of homicide at a rate which was approximately six times higher than that of non-Aboriginal people (7.20 Aboriginal victims per 100,000 Aboriginal population versus 1.13 non-Aboriginal victims per 100,000 non-Aboriginal population). When considering sex, the rate of homicide for Aboriginal males was seven times higher than for non-Aboriginal males (10.86 per 100,000 versus 1.61 per 100,000); among Aboriginal females the rate was six times higher (3.64 per 100,000 versus 0.65 per 100,000).

For both male and female Aboriginal people, the risk of becoming a victim of homicide in 2014 was highest for those 35 to 44 years of age (20.56 per 100,000 population and 8.62 per 100,000, respectively). While homicide rates were lower overall for non-Aboriginal people regardless of age, 35- to 44-year-olds were also at highest risk among non-Aboriginal females (1.06). In contrast, 18- to 24-year-olds were at greatest risk among non-Aboriginal males (3.13).

When considering geography, the Territories had some of the highest homicide rates for Aboriginal people in the country in 2014. It is important to note, however, that despite high rates, the actual number of homicides in the Territories was quite low compared to other regions of the country. Among the provinces where police reported at least one homicide of an Aboriginal victim, the rate of homicide involving Aboriginal victims was highest in Manitoba (13.29 per 100,000) and Alberta (11.55 per 100,000), and lowest in Quebec (2.24) and Nova Scotia (2.56). The rates of homicide against Aboriginal victims were similar both within and outside of census metropolitan areas in 2014.

For more information about Aboriginal people as homicide victims in Canada, see “Homicide in Canada, 2014” (Miladinovic and Mulligan 2015).

End of text box

Perceptions of safety and the criminal justice system

In addition to collecting information on Canadians’ victimization experiences, the GSS on Victimization also captures information on respondents’ perceptions of crime and safety—regardless of whether they were a victim of a crime—as well as their perception of certain sectors of the Canadian justice system.

Most Aboriginal people report satisfaction with their personal safety from crime

Despite the fact that Aboriginal populations tended to be at higher risk of victimization, this did not appear to have much impact on their satisfaction with personal safety from crime. In 2014, the majority of Aboriginal people (85%) reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their personal safety from crime (Table 10). Satisfaction of personal safety from crime, however, was slightly higher among non-Aboriginal people (88%).

Aboriginal victims of one of the eight crimes measured by the GSS on Victimization did, however, have lower levels of satisfaction with personal safety from crime than those who had not been victimized. More specifically, 77% of Aboriginal victims reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their personal safety from crime, compared with 88% of Aboriginal people who had not been a victim of crime. Similar findings were recorded among the non-Aboriginal population (81% versus 90%).

Aboriginal females were proportionately less likely to report being satisfied or very satisfied with their personal safety from crime compared with Aboriginal males (80% versus 89%) (Table 11). Similar findings were found among males and females in the non-Aboriginal population. No differences existed in satisfaction with personal safety from crime when comparing Aboriginal people residing in the territories and Aboriginal people residing in the provinces.

A higher proportion of Aboriginal people believe crime is higher in their neighbourhood than in other areas of Canada

When considering crime in one’s neighbourhood, more Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people believed that there was a higher amount of crime in their neighbourhood compared to other areas of Canada (7% and 4%, respectively) (Table 10). This may be partly influenced by the fact that a larger proportion of Aboriginal people reported being victimized, as well as perceiving some form of social disorder within their neighbourhood than non-Aboriginal people. For instance, 32% of Aboriginal people perceived some form of social disorder in their neighbourhood compared with 22% of non-Aboriginal people. Of the various types of social disorder asked about on the survey, a higher proportion of Aboriginal people perceived people using or dealing drugs (17%), as well as people being drunk or rowdy in public places (14%), to be a big to moderate problem in their neighbourhood, compared with non-Aboriginal people (9% and 6%, respectively).

Aboriginal people were also proportionately more likely than non-Aboriginal people to report believing that crime had increased in their neighbourhood over the previous five years. In total, 16% of the Aboriginal population believed that crime had increased in their neighbourhood over the past five years compared with 11% of the non-Aboriginal population. This is of interest, since, the proportion of Aboriginal people living in the provinces or territories who reported being a victim of one of the eight types of crime measured by the GSS on Victimization decreased during this same period (see Text box 2).

Despite being proportionately more likely than non-Aboriginal people to believe crime was higher in their neighbourhood than in other areas of Canada, or that criminal activity in one’s neighbourhood had increased over the past five years, Aboriginal people reported feeling safer walking alone at night than non-Aboriginal people. Overall, 50% of Aboriginal people reported feeling very safe when walking alone at night compared with 44% of non-Aboriginal people (Table 10). Females, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, were proportionately less likely to report feeling very safe when walking alone at night than their male counterparts (Table 11).

More Aboriginal people report adopting certain measures to protect themselves from crime

Based on 2014 GSS on Victimization data, Aboriginal people were proportionately more likely to have adopted certain measures at some point in their lives to protect themselves from crime. For instance, 33% of Aboriginal people said they changed their routine or activities or avoided certain people or places, while 17% said they obtained a dog to protect them from crime (Table 12). The corresponding proportions for non-Aboriginal people were 27% and 9%, respectively. The higher proportions recorded among Aboriginal people may be partly influenced by Aboriginal females, however, who were proportionately more likely to report adopting certain measures compared to their male counterparts, as well as to non-Aboriginal females (Table 13).

Aboriginal people report lower levels of confidence in police and criminal courts than non-Aboriginal people

While the majority of Aboriginal people reported having at least some confidence in the police, they were proportionately more likely than non-Aboriginal people to have not very much or no confidence at all in the police (Chart 6). This may be partially explained by the fact that a higher proportion of Aboriginal people believed that their local police service does a poor job with regard to certain aspects of police work asked about in the survey (Table 14). For instance, 13% of Aboriginal people believed that their local police service did a poor job of responding to calls compared with 5% of non-Aboriginal people. This was influenced by Aboriginal people living in the territories of which 23% believed that police did a poor job promptly responding to calls (compared with 12% of Aboriginal people residing in the provinces). Unlike non-Aboriginal people, among whom females typically had a more positive perception of certain aspects of their local police service, no difference in opinion existed among Aboriginal males and females (Table 15).

Chart 6

Description for Chart 6
Chart 6 Level of confidence in the police, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, provinces and territories, 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Chart 6 Level of confidence in the police Aboriginal people and Non-Aboriginal people, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Aboriginal people Non-Aboriginal peopleNote 
percent
A great deal of confidence 35Note * 45
Some confidence 48 46
Not very much confidence 13Note * 6
No confidence at all 3Note E: Use with caution Note * 2

In addition to having less confidence in the police than their non-Aboriginal counterparts, Aboriginal people also had less confidence in the criminal court system. Overall, close to one-third of Aboriginal people reported having not very much confidence (22%) or no confidence at all (9%) in the criminal courts compared with just under one-quarter of non-Aboriginal people (17% and 5%, respectively).

Having had contact with the justice system appeared to impact one’s perception of that system, regardless of Aboriginal identity. Respondents who reported some form of contact with police (criminal or not) in the 12 months prior to the survey had less confidence in the police than those who did not report contact. Similar findings were true of the criminal courts.

The 2014 GSS on Victimization shows that Aboriginal people were proportionately more likely to have had contact with the justice system. Specifically, 4 in 10 (40%) Aboriginal people reported having contact with police (criminal or not) in the 12 months preceding the survey compared with 3 in 10 (30%) non-Aboriginal people. For almost all types of contact with police, Aboriginal people recorded higher proportions (Chart 7). In addition, one-third (33%) of Aboriginal people had contact with the criminal court system at some point in their lives. This compared to 19% of non-Aboriginal people.

Chart 7

Description for Chart 7
Chart 7 Type of contact with police, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, provinces and territories, 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Chart 7 Type of contact with police Aboriginal people and Non-Aboriginal people, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Aboriginal people Non-Aboriginal peopleNote 
percent
Public information
session
10Note * 6
Traffic violation 11 13
Witness to a crime 11Note * 5
Being arrested 3Note E: Use with caution Note * 1
Personal emotions/
mental health/
substance use
4Note E: Use with caution Note * 1
Family member's emotions/
mental health/
substance use
8Note * 2

Summary

In 2014, more than one-quarter (28%) of Aboriginal people reported that they or their household had been a victim of at least one of the eight types of offences measured by the GSS on Victimization in the previous 12 months. Compared with 2009, fewer Aboriginal people in both the provinces and the territories reported being a victim of one of the eight crimes measured by the victimization survey in 2014.

The rate of violent victimization among Aboriginal people continued to be higher than for non-Aboriginal people in 2014. However, similar to previous research—which used GSS victimization data from the 10 provinces—analysis using combined data from the provinces and territories found that when controlling for various risk factors, Aboriginal identity by itself did not remain associated with an increased risk of violent victimization. Rather, the observed higher rates of victimization among Aboriginal people appeared to be related to the increased presence of other victimization risk factors among this group. For instance, experiencing childhood maltreatment, using drugs, experiencing homelessness, and having fair or poor self-rated mental health were all associated with an increased risk of victimization when controlling for other factors; these characteristics were also more common among the Aboriginal population than the non-Aboriginal population.

High victimization rates among Aboriginal females, however, could not be fully explained by an increased presence of risk factors among this sub-population. Even when controlling for other risk factors, Aboriginal identity itself remained a risk factor for violent victimization of females—something that was not found for males. While Aboriginal females were proportionately more likely than Aboriginal males to experience both physical and sexual maltreatment as children—a factor linked to an increased risk of violent victimization—they were less likely than Aboriginal males to engage in certain behaviours linked to violent victimization, such as binge drinking and drug use. This means that for Aboriginal females, there are still factors at play that put them at a higher risk for violent victimization, highlighting the need for more research.

Aboriginal people were proportionately more likely than non-Aboriginal people to report having been the victim of spousal violence in the five years preceding the survey (9% and 4%, respectively). More specifically, Aboriginal women were about three times as likely to report being a victim of spousal violence as non-Aboriginal women, while Aboriginal men were twice as likely as their non-Aboriginal counterparts to report spousal violence. Regardless of sex, a larger proportion of Aboriginal people residing in the territories reported experiencing spousal violence than Aboriginal people living in the provinces.

Aboriginal victims of spousal violence were proportionately more likely to report that the violence had come to the attention of police than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. In contrast, Aboriginal victims of non-spousal violence were proportionately more likely than non-Aboriginal victims to report that the incident had gone unreported to police.

Survey description

General Social Survey on Victimization

In 2014, Statistics Canada conducted the victimization cycle of the General Social Survey (GSS) for the sixth time. Previous cycles were conducted in 1988, 1993, 1999, 2004 and 2009. The purpose of the survey is to provide data on Canadians’ personal experiences with eight offences, examine the risk factors associated with victimization, examine rates of reporting to the police, assess the nature and extent of spousal violence, measure fear of crime, and examine public perceptions of crime and the criminal justice system.

The 2014 GSS on Victimization was also conducted in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut using a different sampling design. The GSS on Victimization was also conducted in the Territories in 2009 and was preceded by test collections in 1999 and 2004.

In 2009, comparisons between the data from the territories and the provinces were to be made with caution primarily because the Inuit population was underrepresented in the territories. In 2014, as a result of advancements made to the frame and higher response rates, data in the territories can be compared, or combined, with data for the provinces. It is noteworthy, however, to keep in mind differences in survey methods and weighting strategies for the provinces and territories when analyzing GSS 2014 data at the Canada level. This report combined 2014 GSS on Victimization data from both the provinces and territories in order to report on the victimization of Aboriginal people in Canada.

The target population for the GSS on Victimization is the Canadian population aged 15 and over, living in the provinces and territories. Canadians residing in institutions are not included. Once a household was contacted an individual 15 years or older was randomly selected to respond to the survey.

In 2014, the sample size for the 10 provinces was 33,127 respondents. Of that number, 2,787 were from the oversample. In 2014, the sample size for the three territories was 2,040 respondents, about twice the number of respondents in 2009 (1,094).

Data collection

Provinces

Data collection took place from January to December 2014 inclusively. Responses were obtained by computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI). Respondents were able to respond in the official language of their choice.

Territories

Data collection took place from August 2014 to January 2015 inclusively. The method of collection was a mixture of computer-assisted telephone (CATI) and personal interviews (CAPI). Most cases started as CATI at the regional office and could be transferred to a CAPI-interviewer depending on the community and collection constraints. Respondents were interviewed in the official language of their choice.

Response rates

Provinces

The overall response rate in 2014 was 52.9%, down from 61.6% in 2009. Non-respondents included people who refused to participate, could not be reached, or could not speak English or French. Respondents in the sample were weighted so that their responses represent the non-institutionalized Canadian population aged 15 and older.

Territories

The overall response rate was 58.7%, up from 50.7% in 2009. Non-respondents included people who refused to participate, could not be reached, or could not speak English or French. Respondents in the sample were weighted so that their responses represent the non-institutionalized territories population aged 15 and older.

Data limitations

As with any household survey, there are some data limitations. The results are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling errors. Somewhat different results might have been obtained if the entire population had been surveyed. This article uses the coefficient of variation (CV) as a measure of the sampling error. Estimates with a high CV (over 33.3%) were not published because they were too unreliable. In these cases, the symbol “F” is used in place of an estimate in the figures and data tables. Estimates with a CV between 16.6 and 33.3 should be used with caution and the symbol “E” is used. Where descriptive statistics and cross-tabular analyses were used, statistically significant differences were determined using 95% confidence intervals.

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Victimization incidents (including spousal violence) reported by Canadians, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and type of offence, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 2 Violent victimization incidents (including spousal violence) reported by Canadians, by Aboriginal group, and type of violent offence, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 3 Violent victimization incidents (including spousal violence) reported by Canadians, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and sex, and type of violent offence, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 4 Presence of selected social or demographic characteristics, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 5 Violent victimization incidents reported by Canadians, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and selected demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 6 Violent victimization incidents reported by Canadians, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and selected dwelling and neighbourhood characteristics, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 7 Violent victimization incidents reported by Canadians, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and selected historical and health characteristics, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 8 Presence of selected social or demographic characteristics, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and sex, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 9 Violent victimization incidents (excluding spousal violence) reported by Canadians, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and selected characteristics of the incident, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 10 Canadians' perception of crime and safety in their neighbourhood, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 11 Canadians' perception of crime and safety in their neighbourhood, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and sex, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 12 Canadians' use of crime prevention measures, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 13 Canadians' use of crime prevention measures, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and sex, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 14 Canadians' perception of local police, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and selected tasks, provinces and territories, 2014

Table 15 Canadians' perception of local police, by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and sex, and selected tasks, provinces and territories, 2014

Model 1 Logistic regression: risk of violent victimization, by selected characteristics, provinces and territories, 2014

References

Allen, M. and S. Perreault. 2015. “Police-reported crime in Canada’s Provincial North and Territories, 2013.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Ambler, S. 2014. Invisible Women: A Call to Action. House of Commons Canada.

Amnesty International. 2014. Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada: A Summary of Amnesty International’s Concerns and Call to Action.

Arriagada, P. 2016. “First Nations, Métis and Inuit women.” Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 89-503-X.

Boyce, J., C. Rotenberg and M. Karam. 2015. “Mental health and contact with police in Canada, 2012.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Brennan, S. 2011. “Violent victimization of Aboriginal women in the Canadian provinces, 2009.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Brennan, S. 2012. “Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2011.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Cotter, A. 2014. “Firearms and violent crime in Canada, 2012.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Kumar, M. 2016. “Lifetime suicidal thoughts among First Nations living off reserve, Métis and Inuit aged 26 to 59: Prevalence and associated characteristics.” Aboriginal People’s Survey, 2012. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 89-653-X.

Miladinovic, Z. and L. Mulligan. 2015. “Homicide in Canada, 2014.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Native Women's Association of Canada. 2010. What Their Stories Tell Us: Research Findings from the Sisters in Spirit Initiative.

Pearce, M. 2013. An Awkward Silence: Missing and Murdered Vulnerable Women and the Canadian Justice System. LL.D. Thesis. Ottawa University.

Perreault, S. 2015. “Criminal victimization in Canada, 2014.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 2014. Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 2015. Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: 2015 Update to the National Operational Overview.

Scrim, K. 2009. Aboriginal Victimization in Canada: A Summary of the Literature. Department of Justice.

Sinha, M. 2015. “Trends in reporting criminal victimization to police, 1999 to 2009.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Statistics Canada. 2013. “Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: First Nations People, Métis and Inuit.” National Household Survey, 2011. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 99-011-X.

Statistics Canada. 2015. “Aboriginal statistics at a glance: 2nd edition.” Aboriginal Statistics Program. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 89-645-X.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 2015. Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Turner, A. 2016. “Living arrangements of Aboriginal children aged 14 and under.” Insights on Canadian Society. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 75-006-X.

United Nations. 2014. The Situation of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

United Nations. 2015. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Report of the Inquiry Concerning Canada of the Committee of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Under Article 8 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Notes

Date modified: