Indigenous peoples and immigrants more at risk of domestic violence in Canada, study says

More than half of domestic homicide victims are from vulnerable populations, that's according to a study conducted by professor Myrna Dawson at the University of Guelph.

Indigenous peoples, immigrants, refugees, children and those living in rural and remote areas most at risk

More than half of domestic homicide victims are from vulnerable populations, that's according to a study conducted by professor Myrna Dawson at the University of Guelph. (CBC)

More than half of Canadians killed through domestic violence are from vulnerable populations, according to a new national study conducted by researchers from the University of Guelph.

From 2010 to 2015, more than half of domestic homicide victims were either Indigenous, immigrants or refugees, lived in rural, remote or northern areas or were children. 

The report, titled One is too Many: Trends and Patterns in Domestic Homicides in Canada in 2010-2015, was spearheaded by professor Myrna Dawson.

"These vulnerable populations have enhanced risks or unique barriers that are leading to higher rates of domestic violence and homicide," she said in a news release. Those include historical and ongoing colonization, oppression, discrimination and a lack of resources due to geography, language, culture, age or poverty.  
Myrna Dawson is a professor at the University of Guelph. She's also the director of the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Response to Violence. (Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability )

In a news release, the University of Guelph says "domestic homicide" is defined as the killing of a current or intimate partner, their children, or others such as new partners, family members, friends or bystanders.

Out of the 476 people killed in cases of domestic homicide from 2010 to 2015, 76 per cent of them were female and at least 53 per cent represented one of the vulnerable populations mentioned above.

Forty-two per cent of the homicide victims lived in rural, remote and northern areas; 26 per cent were immigrants or refugees; 17 per cent were Indigenous; and 15 per cent were children.

After accounting for population size, the report said more of these crimes occur in provinces with more rural, remote and northern areas — with a majority in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. 

It also shows Indigenous domestic homicide rates were twice those of non-Indigenous domestic homicide rates.

"Their risk is further compounded because they also often live in rural, remote or northern regions and so face the challenges of living in such regions as well," said Dawson.

The study took five years to complete and was done as a part of the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations.