Manitoba has nearly twice the national rate of cases of violence against women, according to a report released today from Statistics Canada.
The report used police reports from 2011 and found just over 173,600 were victims of violence against women. More than 10,000 of those cases took place in Manitoba.
Statistics Canada said the rate of violence against women is about 1,207 victims for every 100,000 women in Canada. In Manitoba, the rate is 2,191 per 100,000.
Marie Lands, the executive director at the Ikwe Widdjiitiwin Aboriginal Crisis Centre, said she is not surprised with the new statistics.
Lands works with Aboriginal families and said that she sees the violence as a generational problem.
"A lot of our people are trying to cope and survive, not only just from current abuse, but from a whole legacy, and that's still going on in our communities," said Lands.
The province has said that they're working on the numbers.
Manitoba’s health minister, Theresa Oswald, said societal factors like poverty need to be addressed in the province to reduce the number of cases of violence against women.
"One of the most important things we can do for all citizens, men and women, is to ensure they have access to education, to provide opportunities to work their way out of poverty and for women in particular to know they do not have to stay in unsafe situations," said Oswald.
'Until we find ourselves in a position where every Manitoban woman is safe at home with her children, there will always be more work do to.' —Theresa Oswald, Manitoba Health Minister
"Until we find ourselves in a position where every Manitoban woman is safe at home with her children, there will always be more work to do."
Barara Judt, the CEO of Osborne House, a shelter for women and children in Winnipeg, said that one other key factor is getting women past the stigma of reporting abuse.
"People don't necessarily have to go to someone and disclose their secrets of being a victim of violence where they feel ashamed and so embarassed," said Judt.
"There's a number that they call privately … confidentially."
Tim Wall is the director of counseling services for Klinic Community Health Centre in Winnipeg.
Wall said Manitoba’s large First Nations population accounts for a large amount of the violence against women in the province.
"When you have a population that has been highly traumatized, of course you’re also going to see likely more incidents of the symptoms of that trauma — family violence being one of them," said Wall.
Wall also said he believes there is a greater awareness of domestic violence in Manitoba, which leads to higher rates or reporting in the province.
Women 8 times more likely to be victims
Anna Pazdzierski is the executive director of Nova House in Selkirk, a shelter for abused women and children in Manitoba’s interlake region.
She said aboriginal women are eight times more likely to be victims of violence.
"It’s not something that Manitoba can be proud of – that the rates in Manitoba are twice the national average. That’s horrendous," said Pazdzierski.
The report said Saskatchewan and Manitoba also consistently have some of the highest provincial rates of police-reported violent crime per capita, but their numbers don’t come anywhere near those of the Northwest Territories or Nunavut.
Nunavut’s rate of violent crime against women was nearly 13 times higher than the rate across Canada.
Ontario and Quebec had the lowest rates of violence against women.