OPP hopes report on missing, murdered indigenous people will yield new tips

The Ontario Provincial Police has released a report on cases of missing and unsolved murders of indigenous people over the last 58 years, in the hopes that it will lead to new tips or information to further the investigations.

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Members of the OPP and First Nations leaders released the report Wednesday morning during a news conference. The report covers the period spanning from 1956 to 2014.

The report found that from 1956 to the end of 2014:

Female indigenous homicides/ missing persons

  • There were 54 homicides involving indigenous females. Eight of them remain unsolved and 46 were solved.
  • Of the 46 solved cases: Nine of the victims were murdered by a family member; 17 were murdered by a domestic partner or spouse; 19 were murdered by a person known to the victim; and one was of "unknown circumstances."
  • The solved or "clearance" rate for homicides involving an indigenous woman was 85.2 per cent.
  • There were eight missing indigenous females reported to the OPP, and all remain missing.
  • Foul play is possible or suspected in one of these cases.

The report found that from 1978 to the end of 2014:

Male indigenous homicides/missing persons

  • There were 126 homicides involving indigenous males. Only one of these cases remains unsolved and 125 of them were solved.
  • Of the 125 solved cases: 35 were murdered by family members; 10 were murdered by a domestic partner or spouse; 70 were murdered by a person known to the victim; nine were of "unknown circumstances"; and information for one of the cases is not available.
  • The solved or "clearance" rate for homicides involving an indigenous man was 99.2 per cent.
  • There were 39 cases that involve a missing indigenous man.
  • The OPP believe foul play is possible or suspected for 22 of these cases, and 17 of these individuals are considered missing persons.

The OPP’s overall homicide solved or “clearance rate” from 2010 to 2014 was 92.3 per cent, the report said. The OPP defines a homicide investigation to be solved, when charges are laid, regardless if the charges result in a conviction, officers said at the news conference.

Det.-Supt. Dave Truax said the OPP does not believe that any of the homicides are "serial" in nature, meaning they're likely not the result of a serial killer.

He added that he hopes the release of the report will lead to new tips or information in the unsolved cases.

"I sincerely hope that the information contained in this report will provoke thought, stimulate conversation on this very important societal issue, and may also elicit new information that may assist in these investigations," he said during the news conference.

Commissioner Vince Hawkes said in a statement that he recognizes that in many cases the OPP "cannot reverse the outcomes" for the families of those who have gone missing or were murdered. However, he said he hopes the OPP report potentially leads to a "resolution for the families and communities who have suffered loss."

The OPP report comes days after the Liberal government announced they were launching an inquiry in the missing and murdered aboriginal women. Last week, the government announced they were launching the initial "design phase" of the inquiry, and would be meeting with affected families to seek their input.

Since taking office, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to rebuild and renew the relationship with indigenous communities on a "nation-to-nation" basis.

On Wednesday, he met with several national aboriginal organizations, including the Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Metis National Council and the Native Women's Association of Canada.

He said the government will be seeking to engage and collaborate with these organizations as it moves forward with the inquiry, as well as implementing the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"A strong, healthy, co-operative relationship with the leaders of National Aboriginal Organizations is key to making change happen," Trudeau said in a statement. "That is why I am committed to meeting annually with indigenous leaders from across the country."


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