THE arrest of accused serial killer Shawn Lamb has again raised a vexing question that's lingered since the issue of missing and slain aboriginal women hit headlines more than a decade ago.
How many are there in Manitoba?
Many count 100, though some aboriginal leaders, speaking at vigils, have pegged the figure at closer to 200.
The most-quoted figures can be traced to the work of the Native Women's Association of Canada and its Sisters in Spirit project. It created the most comprehensive national list of missing and slain women. The problem is, it's never been made public, so it's impossible to scrutinize the list or update it now that the project has lost much of its funding.
As of a March 2010 report from NWAC, there were 582 cases across Canada and 79 in Manitoba. Since then, the nationwide figure has crept above 600.
Roughly half those cases have been solved, though. Police made an arrest or there was a conviction.
How many cases are outstanding in Manitoba?
At last count, the Winnipeg police and RCMP task force charged with investigating outstanding cases was looking closely at about 80 cases but not all of those involve aboriginal women.
Using public information, the Free Press has compiled a list of the outstanding cases involving aboriginal women, where a woman has never been found or where a killer was never charged.
It includes 52 names. Some cases date back more than 40 years. According to the data, there are more than 50 children awaiting answers about the fate of their mothers.
Here are some other preliminary findings:
- Average age: 27
- Number missing: 23
- Number slain: 29
- Number of Winnipeg cases: 34
- Most common home reserve: Sagkeeng and Norway House
- Number slain or missing in the decade since serial killer Robert Pickton was arrested, Feb. 22, 2002: 26
See the list
The list, along with dates and details of each case, is available at www.winnipegfreepress.com . It is a working document that will be updated frequently, and we welcome corrections, additions and criticism. Please leave a comment on our website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org .