APTN National News
The RCMP says it won’t release “the ethnicity” of perpetrators responsible for the murders of Indigenous women, contradicting statements made earlier Thursday by a Conservative MP and a spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office.
“In the spirit of our bias-free policing policy, the RCMP will not be disclosing statistics on the ethnicity of the perpetrators of solved Aboriginal women homicides,” said the statement issued Thursday evening.
The RCMP’s position contradicts a statement made by Conservative MP Rob Clarke and a spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt.
Clarke said Thursday the RCMP would be releasing numbers that would show that 70 per cent of the murders of Indigenous women were committed by Indigenous men.
“The information that was gathered (by the RCMP) is raw data,” said Clarke, a former RCMP officer, during APTN’s Nation to Nation political panel. “It hasn’t been released yet and it probably will be released once the data is put into report form.”
A spokesperson for Valcourt’s office, who was present in APTN’s Ottawa bureau during the political panel’s taping, confirmed what Clarke stated and said the information would be released “in due course.”
Valcourt mentioned the 70 per cent statistic last Friday during a closed-door meeting with First Nation leaders in Calgary, according to two chiefs at the gathering. Valcourt said during the meeting that the statistic came from the RCMP, but it had not been made public.
Treaty 6 Grand Chief Bernice Martial demanded Valcourt release the source of his information.
When asked by APTN where Valcourt obtained his information, RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Harold Pfleiderer suggested the minister’s office was best positioned to answer that question.
“I invite you to contact Minister Valcourt’s office,” said Pfleiderer.
The minister’s office did not return a request for comment as of this article’s posting.
NDP Aboriginal affairs critic Niki Ashton pressed Valcourt to release the source of his information during question period Wednesday, but the minister avoided providing a direct answer.
The RCMP statement said the main focus of its public release last May was the “Aboriginal origin of female victims of homicides.”
The statement said the RCMP was more interested in the “victim-perpetrator relationship.” Its review found that in 62 per cent of Indigenous women murders, the perpetrators were either a spouse, 29 per cent, a family member, 23 per cent, or an intimate partner, 10 per cent. Thirty per cent of the murders were committed by an acquaintance and eight per cent of murders were committed by a stranger.
The RCMP reviewed cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women which were held by about 200 police departments across the country dating back to 1980. The RCMP released some information from the review in a report last year that said there were 1,181 murdered and missing Indigenous women cases across the country.
“These statistics have enabled focused prevention/intervention efforts, guiding and informing future crime prevention and reduction efforts as it relates to family violence in vulnerable communities across the country,” said the statement.
During the Nation to Nation taping of the political panel, Ashton said the Conservatives were “race baiting” with the 70 per cent statistic.
“They are absolving themselves from any blame or any responsibility on this issue,” said Ashton.
Labrador Liberal MP Yvonne Jones said Valcourt should have publicly released the information before raising it during a private meeting.
“Who the perpetrator is does not change the fact that the government has a responsibility to do an inquiry and get to the bottom of it,” said Jones, during the Nation to Nation political panel.
Saskatchewan Senator Lillian Dyck issued a statement saying Valcourt “must show us this unreported data because they contradict other reported facts.”
Dyck said the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) own research found that only 36 per cent of cases were linked to Indigenous men. She said NWAC’s numbers showed that in 41 per cent of cases the racial identity of the perpetrator was unknown.