New Statistics Canada data shows hate crimes targeting Indigenous peoples in Canada increased by 17% between 2016 and 2018
As Indigenous peoples in Canada deal with a wave of racism thanks to escalating rhetoric from right-wing politicians, corporate media outlets and social media campaigns by groups funded by the oil industry, new data from Statistics Canada shows anti-Indigenous hate has been rising steadily in recent years.
According to StatCan’s figures, the number of hate crimes targeting Indigenous peoples in Canada increased by 17% between 2016 and 2018.
Barbara Perry, a professor specializing in hate, extremism and bias at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, suggested the rise in hate crimes could be explained by a number of factors.
“The rise in anti-Indigenous hate crime is the result of some police outreach in select communities,” Perry told PressProgress, but added that it is “more likely a result of increased Indigenous activism in the past few years – around Truth and Reconciliation, land claims, pipelines, etc.”
According to CBC News, experts have noted a recent uptick in violence and racism targeting Indigenous peoples following a series of Indigenous youth-led solidarity actions in support of Wet’suwet’en land defenders in northern BC.
Wet’suwet’en and Tyendinaga Mohawk community members were recently terrorized with e-mailsthreatening to place bombs in their mail boxes at the same time as their communities have become targeted by the “Canadian far-right social media ecosystem.”
Last week, reports suggested the far-right Soldiers of Odin hate group had indicated they planned to show up at a Wet’suwet’en solidarity protest outside the BC legislature, where a Soldiers of Odin member was allegedly spotted.
Far-right extremists appear emboldened by mainstream figures offering nods of approval. Conservative leadership candidate Peter MacKay recently endorsed the actions of a vigilante group that recently confronted protesters in Edmonton.
Hate crimes targeting Indigenous peoples accounted for only 2% of all reported incidents in 2018, however, experts note that these statistics only capture numbers reported by police — in reality, there are likely many more unreported incidents.
“Our hate crime statistics are extremely methodologically flawed and should only be reported with big caveats,” Evan Balgord of the Anti-Hate Network told PressProgress, noting the data only reflects incidents where hate crime survivors report and aren’t discouraged from reporting by police.
The 2016-2018 period overlapped with a number of high-profile cases of violence against Indigenous peoples: in 2016, a white farmer in Saskatchewan was charged with second-degree murder of Indigenous youth Colten Boushie, before being acquitted in 2018 by an all-white jury.
In 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women found that Indigenous women were 12 times more likely to go missing or be murdered than any other demographic group in Canada. The inquiry concluded Indigenous women were victims of genocide.