Northern Sask. has highest rate of reported violence against young women: StatsCan

Northern Saskatchewan had the highest rate of violent crime against young women and girls in the country in 2017.

Violent crime against young women and girls in province's north 6 times higher than in the south

According to the report northern Saskatchewan had the highest rate of violent crime against young women and girls. (Shutterstock)

Across Canada's North, young women were disproportionately the victims of violent crime in 2017, according to Statistics Canada.

Women and girls under 24 years old in northern Canada — the three territories and northern portions of all provinces except the Maritimes — had a police-reported violent crime rate nearly three times higher than young women and girls in the south.

Crystal Giesbrecht, director of research and communications for the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan, said the statistics were horrific and disappointing but not surprising.

"The report backs up some of what we know about a lack of services and challenges for young women who live in the north to be safe," she said.

According to the report the northern sections of surveyed provinces, "are generally similar to the territories in terms of geographic remoteness, and economic and social characteristics. " (Statistics Canada)

According to the report, northern Saskatchewan had the highest rate of violent crime against young women and girls, with Manitoba second. In Saskatchewan's north, there was a rate of 13,886 victims per 100,000 population, whereas northern Manitoba had a rate of 9,025 victims.

These rates translated to six and fives the rate of victims in the southern portion of each province, and both figures were higher than the rate of crime experienced by young women and girls in the territories.

From 2009 to 2017, 74 young women and girls in Canada's North were victims of homicide, 56 of them Indigenous.

The rate of homicide for young women in the the northern areas was seven per cent higher than in the south. 

Crystal Giesbrecht says there needs to be an action plan in place to address the existing issues facing young women and girls in remote and northern communities. (ICI Saskatchewan)

Giesbrecht said she would like to see an action plan in place to address the violence experienced in northern Saskatchewan and northern Canada. Culturally relevant and accessible programming and services for young women and girls is needed, she said.

"You shouldn't have to leave your community and go to the south to get safe. And no matter where you live, whether it's rural or northern or in an urban or southern community, you should have access to the same level of services," she said.

Giesbrecht said that a lack of access to transportation since the shuttering of Saskatchewan Transportation Company in 2017 has made it more difficult for people in rural and remote communities to leave abusive situations. 

"We're seeing a lot challenges and a lot of danger right now when people can't leave northern communities to get [to] safety as it is," she said. "People are hitchhiking or they are just staying in communities where their safety is at risk."