End the Sexual and Physical Abuse of Indigenous Women in British Columbia

Target: Canadian Government

Goal: End the mistreatment and abuse of indigenous women by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in northern British Columbia has failed to protect indigenous women and children from both physical and sexual forms of violence. According to a Human Rights Watch report entitled “Those Who Take Us Away: Abusive Policing and Failures in Protection of Indigenous Women and Girls in Northern British Columbia, Canada,” the RCMP has not only failed to protect indigenous women and girls from violence, but has also been a party to such violence. Interviews, court records, and other documents underscore a disturbing reality for the indigenous women and children living along northern British Columbia’s Highway 16—or more commonly referred to by locals as the “Highway of Tears.”

Before government funding for the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) ended in 2010, the organization documented 582 cases of either murdered or missing indigenous women nationally. Although the majority of the cases occurred between the 1960s and 1990s, approximately 39% of them had been documented after 2000—meaning 20 missing indigenous women per year. The NWAC has estimated that if Canada’s women and girls had gone missing at the same rate, there would be nearly 18,000 victims.

Domestic and international human rights organizations have called attention to the unacceptably high rates of missing or murdered indigenous women, but the Canadian government’s complacency and despondence has only exacerbated an already tumultuous relationship.

According to a Human Rights Watch study, RCMP officers have sexually and physically assaulted indigenous women and girls throughout northern BC. For example, girls have been arbitrarily pepper-sprayed or tasered; a case of a 12 year-old attacked by a police dog; an account of a 17 year-old girl punched repeatedly by an officer; women injured during an arrest; women being strip searched by male officers. A horrific story also described a woman taken outside of her home and raped repeatedly by RCMP officers. She was later threatened with her life if she told anyone. Indigenous women and girls have no other direction to go to besides the RCMP in times of danger, so the abuse breeds fear and resentment among aboriginals living in BC.

Years of RCMP under-protection and mistreatment toward indigenous communities in northern BC must end. The Canadian government should investigate RCMP officers who have been accused of physical or sexual assault—as to end the cycle of complacency and indifference shown toward the victims and their families.


Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

The mistreatment and abuse of aboriginal women in northern British Columbia by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) needs to stop. Over the past 50 years, there have been nearly 2000 documented cases of either murdered or missing indigenous women and girls nationally. Much of this can be attributed to the inadequate job of the RCMP in pursuing these cases. But independent interviews and reports have also indicated that RCMP officers are also a party to such abuse.

Interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch have revealed several disturbing episodes that have occurred between RCMP officers and indigenous women: RCMP officers beat a 17-year-old girl after she called authorities for help; police dogs attacked a 12-year-old girl; a 15-year-old girl’s arm was broken when RCMP officer attempted to break up a fight between her and her boyfriend; and in July 2012, a women told Human Rights Watch that RCMP officers took her out of her home, raped her, and told her that she’d be killed if she ever told anyone.

The RCMP has failed to protect and serve the aboriginal communities of northern BC. Please expand the training and monitoring of RCMP police so that similar, horrific episodes may never happen again. The Canadian government must investigate these human rights violations immediately, as to end the cycle of indifference and complacency shown toward indigenous victims and their families.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Province of British Columbia via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. The functions of police officers are to uphold justice, defend victims and prevent crime. What is wrong with these idiots who think they have the right to commit multiple crimes?

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