February 15, 2018
Data Sources on Indigenous Victimization
There are five national sources of administrative data from within the justice system that report on Indigenous people’s contact with police and the corrections system:
- Adult Correctional Services Survey,
- Youth Custody and Community Services Survey and
- Integrated Correctional Services Survey
- Uniform Crime Report and
- Homicide Survey
Since 2014, police-reported homicide data on Indigenous peoples have been available through the Homicide Survey, which collects information on the Indigenous identity of victims and offenders. Going forward, Statistics Canada’s annual homicide report will include analysis of homicides of Indigenous women and girls. This information will enable communities and those working in the criminal justice system to better understand and address the issues related to homicide victimization. In addition, Statistics Canada is expanding its other justice-related work to include information on Indigenous identity.
General Social Survey on Criminal Victimization
Partly as a consequence of the data gaps that exist within the justice system, research into the victimization of Indigenous people in Canada has relied heavily on the General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization as a source of statistical data. The GSS on Victimization, which is carried out by Statistics Canada every five years, was most recently carried out in 2014. The GSS allows an analysis of self-reported rates of specific forms of victimization, such as robbery or family violence, with other social and demographic factors such as age, gender and the relationship between the victim and the accused.
Between 2003 and 2013, the Indigenous identity of about half of victims and accused persons in a homicide case was reported as unknown. The 2014 Homicide Survey was the first cycle to have more complete information on the Indigenous identity of victims and accused persons in a homicide case and only 3% were reported as unknown.
An examination of the way in which data is collected on Indigenous involvement in the criminal justice system was undertaken by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS). The authors of the resulting report note that Canadian commissions and inquiries have repeatedly highlighted the gaps in disaggregated data on Indigenous people and the Canadian justice system.
Though there has been a positive evolution of data collection methods for the GSS, the survey remains limited as a research tool for examining Indigenous victimization. A lack of available statistical information may lead to the underestimation of the full extent of violent victimization of Indigenous people in Canada while also threatening to distort Canada’s understanding of the causes and contexts of this violence. A significant gap is that the GSS does not document victims’ experiences in the justice system itself. It is important to note, however, that Statistics Canada continues to work with partners to improve the quality of its many surveys