Aboriginal people are far more likely to experience violence in Canada than their non-Aboriginal counterparts, with sexual assault rates almost three times higher than that of the rest of the population.
A Statistics Canada study released Tuesday found the overall violent victimization rate – which includes sexual assault, robbery and physical assault – among indigenous people aged 15 and older was more than double the rate of the non-indigenous people.
Its findings, based on a general social survey for 2014, show nearly three in ten, or 28 per cent, of Aboriginal people report that they or a member of their household have been a victim of a crime.
Rates of nearly all types of violent victimization were higher for Aboriginal people, with the physical assault rate nearly double that of non-Aboriginal people and the sexual assault rate almost three times higher.
These higher rates of victimization, the paper said, were related to the presence of other risk factors such as experiencing childhood mistreatment or homelessness.
The study comes as details of a pending inquiry into the more than 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women are expected to be announced in the coming days.
Aboriginal women experience higher risk of violent victimization, even when other risk factors are taken into account, Statscan said. "Even when controlling for all of the selected risk factors, Aboriginal identity remained a risk factor for violent victimization among women."
It noted that some risk factors are more likely to be present among indigenous women than among men, among them having experienced abuse as a child.
Rates of spousal violence are also higher, Statscan said – Aboriginal women are about three times more likely to report being a victim of spousal violence than non-indigenous women.
More than three quarters of incidents of spousal violence weren't reported to police.
And while some services, such as crisis centres, shelters and victim assistance programs, are available to victims, most victims said they don't access them for help.
Many studies, including a Truth and Reconciliation Commission report last year, note that higher risks of victimization can be traced to the devastating impact of residential schools and other historical factors. In its call to action, the TRC recommended that more data be collected on the victimization of Aboriginal people, which should in turn guide the creation of more culturally appropriate programs and services.
Rates of victimization remain higher than the average, but they are declining. The overall share of Aboriginal people who reported being victimized declined to 28 per cent in 2014 from 38 per cent in 2009 in the provinces, with the rate also decreasing in the territories.