Northern study looking for people impacted by domestic homicide

Researchers are calling on those affected by domestic homicide in the Northwest Territories to come forward and participate in a national study.

The north has some of the highest rates of intimate partner violence in the country.

Between 2010 and 2015, seven people died as a result of domestic violcence.

Now researchers from the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative launched the third and final stage of a national study.

Over the next six months, they will interview people who have lost friends to domestic violence.

“People can get screened in. I can describe what the study is about to them and make sure yes they want to do this,” said Dr. Pertice Moffitt, co-investigator of the project.

Moffitt is the pan-territorial coordinator of the new project.

She says the information collected from families will help front lines workers to do their jobs better.

“We know that safety plans need to be ongoing because people’s lives change,” she said. “People have to renew their safety plans.

“We need to find out what in terms of domestic homicide what could have been done.

Trends and patterns in the study show that Indigenous people represent 12 per cent of all domestic homicide victims where this information is known.

Indigenous victims were also younger compared to all homicide victims with one in five being 24 years old or younger.

Moffitt says that while the study began before the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, they have gained insight into the complexities of women fleeing violence in the north.

“We have a graduate student from Western (University) who took the report and pulled out all the things in the report, the calls to action,” she said. “And this study itself if you look at the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was that we collect data and that we understand what’s going on in Canada.”

Moffitt says that interviews can take place in communities, or families can be flown to Yellowknife.

She says aftercare will be available for those involved.

Anyone currently involved in a court case can’t be interviewed until the case is closed.

From 2010 to 2018 there’s been 622 victims of domestic homicide in Canada.

192 occurred in rural and remote areas and 55 children were killed.

In the territories, there were 21 victims during the same time period. 13 were females three were children.

“We have the help line and local people. We will be asking individuals as well if they already have someone they are seeing and our local helpline and counselling people,” says Moffitt.

“That’s why they are doing it regionally so we can ensure we have people in place across the territories for them.”

A recent report suggests that Canada’s efforts to address intimate partner violence and its impacts have failed to make any appreciable dent in the country’s domestic homicide rates.

Every trend that emerged when the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative began examining domestic homicide rates between 2010 and 2015 remained virtually unchanged when research was expanded to include data from the last three years, according to the latest numbers from the multi-year project.

The vast majority of such cases target women or girls, with risks increasing for those who belong to vulnerable demographics such as residents of rural or remote areas and those of Indigenous heritage.

Women made up 76 per cent of all adult domestic homicide victims between 2010 and 2015, according to the team’s research. That number climbed to 80 per cent when factoring in cases from 2016 through 2018. The latest data suggest 59 per cent of child victims are girls.

-with files from the Canadian Press

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