Due to the historical relationships of colonialism and marginalization, violence has become all but naturalized as a part of Indigenous women’s experience. As stated by Anderson (2000)

Violence against women is so prevalent in our communities that it has become an ‘ordinary’ part of everyday life for many Native families, and Native women who have not experienced some violence are seen to be ‘the exception, not the rule” ( p.55).

Information gathered for the report “Researched to Death: B.C. Aboriginal Women and Violence” demonstrate the frequency and intensity of violence experienced by Indigenous women.   The report states that:

  • Indigenous women between the ages of 25 and 44 are five times more likely than other women of the same age to die as result of violence
  • Aboriginal women are 3.5 times more likely than non-Aboriginal women to be victims of violence (343/1,000 versus 96/1,000 respectively)
  • Aboriginal women are approximately 3.5 times more likely to experience some form of spousal violence than non-Aboriginal women.
  • Approximately 21% of Aboriginal people, in comparison to 6% of non-Aboriginal people, report experiencing some form of physical or sexual violence by a spouse
  • Approximately 75% of survivors of sexual assault in Aboriginal communities are young women under 18 years of age.
  • Approximately 50% of these girls are under the age of 14 and approximately 25% are under the age of 7.
  • Approximately 56% of violent incidents committed against Aboriginal people are perpetrated by someone who is known to the victim  (B.C. Government, 2005).

However, statistics alone are not enough to explain and demonstrate the various forms of violence experienced by Indigenous women in Canada.  Below, three works have been highlighted that outline various ways that Indigenous women have been relegated to occupying spaces of violence through racist discourses and institutional practices.   The documentary film “Finding Dawn” (Welsh 2006), the book “The Search for April Raintree” (Culleton 1989), and the article “Gendered racial violence and spatialized justice: the murder of Pamela George” (Razack 2000)  show a disturbing side of Canadian attitudes and perceptions of Indigenous women. 

They are also each, respectively, sites for resistance and social change. The authors and creators of these works are actively engaged in decolonizing discourses by making racist discourses visible and challenging the mainstream notions that have come to pervade the social and institutional realities of Canada.