Indigenous Manitobans harder hit by crime: study


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Indigenous people in Manitoba cities are more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous residents to be victims of violence or theft.

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Indigenous people in Manitoba cities are more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous residents to be victims of violence or theft.

The divide between the two groups is the largest in Canada, a newly released Statistics Canada study shows.

University of Winnipeg criminal justice professor Michael Weinrath said the figures are backed up by research.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES A newly released Statistics Canada study suggests Indigenous people in Manitoba are more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous residents to be victims of violence or theft.

“Indigenous people are more likely to be victims of crime (and) more likely to be victims of violent crime. Part of that is what we know as criminologists: one of the most consistent correlations that you see with victimization, particularly violent victimization is the relationship with poverty,” said Weinrath.

The federal agency also reported a stark difference in the homicide rate between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Manitoba.

In 2020, the homicide rate for Indigenous Manitobans was 15.32 per 100,000 people, compared with 1.26 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous residents. Forty Indigenous people were slain in 2020, compared with 14 non-Indigenous people.

(The national homicide rate was 10.05 per 100,000 people for Indigenous victims, and 1.41 for non-Indigenous.)

The federal agency said First Nations, Métis and Inuit are over-represented among victims of violence across Canada.

Research has suggested a link between victimization and past and present government policies, including the residential school system, marginalization and institutionalized racism, the agency wrote.

Those policies have resulted in the disruption of community and family structures, and caused intergenerational trauma, which are both linked to violent victimization of Indigenous people, the agency said.

Weinrath said it boils down to poverty.

“If you’re in really poor class of individual, you’re more likely to be victimized. Indigenous people, as we know, are more over-represented in the poorer parts of Canadian society… There’s a strong correlation of violent victimization and poverty, but that’s exacerbated for Indigenous people, particularly in our inner cities.”

However, he noted Manitoba has a high rate of crime overall, which is reflected in more specific research.

“The other thing to think about is Manitoba has a high rate of victimization, high rate of crime, high rate of serious, violent crime… it’s not a great thing, but it’s consistent with what we know about the breakdown of crime in our province… that’s going to show up in our studies and surveys,” he said.

The study used self-reported data from the agency’s 2019 general social survey on Canadians’ safety, as well as self-reported data from a 2018 safety survey and 2020 police-reported data on homicides.

Nearly one-quarter — 23 per cent — of Indigenous people in Manitoba reported they had been victims of at least one violent crime or theft of personal property in the 12 months preceding the 2019 survey, compared with 10 per cent of non-Indigenous people.

That difference was mainly because of high victimization rates in urban areas, StatCan said. In rural areas, 5.4 per cent of Indigenous people and five per cent of non-Indigenous people reported being victims of a crime against the person.

The study also showed in 2019 more Indigenous people 15 or older (16.4 per cent) had little or no confidence in their local police service or RCMP detachment compared with non-Indigenous people (12.2 per cent).

Twitter: @erik_pindera

Erik Pindera

Erik Pindera

Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.

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