Did You Know
We have put together a list of facts and information that are relevant to our focus in building the Clan Mothers Healing Village and Knowledge Centre. From historical, socio-economic and societal perspectives, these facts help you understand how we got to where we are today. This page will be updated on a regular basis as we collect new information.
Hidden First Accordion
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- Although Indigenous women make up only four percent of Canada’s female population, 16 percent of all women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were Indigenous. In 2017, 24 percent of female homicide victims in Canada were Indigenous women and girls.
- According to a report published in 2022, Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and transgender persons are over-represented as victims of crime.
- More than six in ten (63%) Indigenous women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime (compared to 45% of non-Indigenous women).
- The homicide rate is over five times higher for Indigenous women as compared to non-Indigenous women.
- Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and transgender persons are 12 times more likely to be missing or murdered than non-Indigenous women, although the exact number is unknown as thousands of these deaths or disappearances have been unreported or mis-reported.
- A November 2021 United Nations report found that violence against women and girls has intensified since the outbreak of COVID-19 and referred to this situation as a “shadow pandemic”.
- Violence is the leading cause of women’s homelessness in Canada.
- Access the MMIWG report here
Housing and Homelessness
- 74% of the Aboriginal population live outside of a reserve.
- 20-50% of homeless people in most urban areas are Aboriginal
- There is a high death rate among Indigenous homelessness.
- More than 50% of homeless youth across Canada experience mental health issues, 75% of these youth are unable to access adequate housing as a result.
- 25 – 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as two-spirit and transgender persons.
- Over 8.3% of shelter users are 55 and over and tend to have longer shelter stays compared to younger adults.
- Missing Persons – Our ally, Kani kanichuk, produced a toolkit for missing persons at risk that you can access here
- Defining 2SLGBTQQIA+ – Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex or Asexual individuals, while the + stands for other ways individuals may express their gender or sexuality.
- Indigenous women account for almost 39% of the inmate population while only accounting for 5% of the Canadian population.
- The life expectancy for Metis women is 82.3 years, for the Inuit women is 76.1 years, for First Nations women 77.7 years, compared to 87.3 years for non-Indigenous women.
- According to the statistics from Canada’s last three census of 1996, 2001, and 2006, the median income for Indigenous peoples was 30% lower than non-Indigenous people.
- In 1851, the government created legislation to determine who qualified as Indian. The government decided that to be an Indian, one had to be an Indian male, be the child of an Indian male, or be married to an Indian male. Under this system, a woman depended on her relationship with a man to determine whether or not she was an Indian. This completely contradicted the matrilineal system of many First Nations and disrupted a hereditary system that had been in place for hundreds of generations.
- Those who qualified as Indian under this criterion would gain Indian “status,” hence the term Status or Non-Status Indian. For women, status was not guaranteed. Legislation stated that a status Indian woman who married a non-Indian man would cease to be an Indian. She would lose her status, and with it, she would lose treaty benefits, health benefits, the right to live on her reserve, the right to inherit her family property, and even the right to be buried on the reserve with her ancestors.
- If an Indian man, however, married a non-native woman, he would keep all his rights. His wife would in fact gain Indian status.
- Under these rules, if an Indian woman married another Indian man, she would cease to be a member of her own band and would become a member of his. If a woman was widowed, or abandoned by her husband, she would become enfranchised and lose status and her rights altogether.
Indian Act Facts
- The Indian Act’s legislation of reserve lands and who could reside on them, impacted women (as well as men) drastically. The Act’s provisions regarding rights to land and status disrupted the ancient matrilineal kinship system as well as matrilocal post-marital residency patterns that had been in place for generations.
- At the election of a chief or chiefs, or the granting of any ordinary consent required of a band of Indians under the Act, those entitled to vote at the council or meeting were the male members of the band of the full age of twenty-one years.
- Indian Act, 1876 Section 6122, many First Nations resisted the imposition of band council governance systems but were ultimately unsuccessful in stopping them. The most notable example of this would be the Haudenosaunee Six Nations, who continued to recognize hereditary chiefs and Clan Mothers as leaders until 1924 when the federal government forcibly imposed it upon them by “beating up our Clan Mothers and supporters and chiefs” and sending dissenters to jail.
- Until 1951, Indian women were excluded from political activity by law. They were not allowed to vote or to hold office. In 1960, the government of Canada finally gave all Aboriginal peoples, male or female, the right to vote federally.
- The Indian Act denied women the right to possess land and marital property—only widows could possess land under the reserve system. However, a widow could not inherit her husband’s personal property upon his death—everything, including the family house, legally went to his children.