Why thousands of indigenous women have gone missing in Canada?

When Indigenous Women go missing, “For me, they’re missing. Not kidnapped. Not trafficked. Not until we know for sure.”  Tolley, the leader in Families of Sisters in Spirit says. Canada’s government usually defines a missing person as “anyone reported to police or by police as someone whose whereabouts are unknown”. If the missing person is under 18, the person will be classified as a missing child and will be considered missing until returned to appropriate care and control.

The reasons that cause Indigenous women to go missing are not always immediately apparent. Some families have been waiting for more than 20 years and bodies still haven’t turned up. “Missing” is an umbrella term that can encompass them all. Finding them also has been hindered, since the police have been treating the cases dismissively.There is no clear profile of a person who kills or kidnaps indigenous women. The attackers run the range from sex traffickers to serial killers, rapists, and even family members. Indigenous activists and police think there is a systemic vulnerability that makes Indigenous women exposed more than other women in Canada.

Socioeconomic conditions like colonization and genocidal institutions have made them susceptible to perpetrators that know they’re going to get away with murder. .” The legacy of colonialism is another factor of creating this environment as well, such as disenfranchisement from wealth, the push to put indigenous people to poor, isolated reserves, and the ongoing acts of cultural genocide against their communities. There is also a link between the presence of non-indigenous labour forces on indigenous land and higher instances of rape and murder. For example, there is a dam being built in the Peace River Valley region in British Columbia, where many First Nation and Métis people live, which has high activity of violence against indigenous women.

The most typical case to represent missing Indigenous women is Highway 16 which bisects British Columbia and passes many native reserves. Dozens of indigenous women have disappeared there. Indigenous communities dubbed it the Highway of Tears because so many women have gone missing there. Signs warning against hitchhiking have been put up, as women hitchhikers are the most common targets along this highway. It’s gotten so bad that a bus route is being planned to address the needs of women traveling along the highway — 10 years after a bus route was initially proposed.


Brammer, J. P. (2016, July 5). Why thousands of indigenous women have gone

missing in Canada. Vox Media. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2016/7/5/12096898/missing-indigenous-women-canada