Are missing & murdered Aboriginal women not considered “newsworthy”?

A new publication released today takes a critical look at the differences between news coverage for missing/murdered Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women.

In “”Newsworthy” Victims? Exploring differences in Canadian local press coverage of missing/murdered Aboriginal and White women”, Carleton University PhD candidate Kristen Gilchrist reveals what is evidently a sharp contrast in the amount and content of press coverage between these two groups.

Gilchrist examines news coverage of just six cases of women who went missing or were murdered throughout 2003-2005; she studied three who were of Aboriginal descent from Saskatchewan, and three who were non-Aboriginal women from Ontario.

Gilchrist’s findings revealed the following;

  • Non-Aboriginal women were mentioned in the local press a total of 511 times compared to just 82 times for Aboriginal women;
  • While there were 187 articles about non-Aboriginal woman, Aboriginal women received just 53 articles
  • 135,249 words published in articles related to non-Aboriginal women’s disappearances/murders, compared to 28,493 words about Aboriginal women
  • Of related first page articles, 37% featured non-Aboriginal women while only 25% of articles featured Aboriginal women

Gilchrist also found that articles concerning missing/murdered Aboriginal women were often hidden and placed in so-called ‘soft news’ sections of papers.

Press coverage of the non-Aboriginal women included photographs that were large and centrally placed, often a series of pages made up of photographs. Whereas pictures for Aboriginal women were small (often like passport sizes) photographs or no picture at all.

Kristen Gilchrist (on right) with Bridget Tolley, whose mother was killed by a Sûreté du Québec patrol vehicle in 2001.

Gilchrist says that in headlines, Aboriginal women were often referred to impersonally and rarely by name, whereas, non-Aboriginal women had full biographies with glowing descriptions, using potent adjectives and imagery.

Gilchrist insists that she isn’t implying that there not be widespread news attention focused on these non-Aboriginal victims, but that for the sake of the safety and well-being of Aboriginal women across Canada, the racial bias and invisibility of missing/murdered Aboriginal women appearing in Canadian press be stopped without further delay.


We’ll have a full interview with Kristen Gilchrist tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “Are missing & murdered Aboriginal women not considered “newsworthy”?

  1. All we have heard about is this for the last 6 years! 1000 + missing over TWENTY GODDAMN years people! Do you know how many OD’ed, and were thrown into the bottom of a lake, easily 400. Alcohol related unreported deaths by their own men, that are further covered up by their band. This is all an attempt to shake down our government for more funds, that’s all every Native issue is ever about.
    Do most of you bleeding hearts know that 1700 white women have gone missing, and or were murdered in the last 15 years? No because we have jobs to go to, not time to sit on our asses asking for more money or more TV coverage.
    Unlimited fishing and hunting rights, money for GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL? Oh and some bands actually get 100 grand per native for TURNING 18, phew that must be a tough accomplishment! Not only that their elders are so corrupt that most of them only see about 80k out of it. Oh did I forget to tell you tax payers, that was thanks to you. It’s time to stfu about the past or face the consequences. Thank your sun god that you are even alive and not living in the US, if you think we treat our natives poorly, take your chances down there eh chums!

  2. Wow this guy’s the embodiment of ignorance^. Native Canadians were forcefully assimilated up into the 90’s when the last residential school was closed. This is an ongoing issue, not a past issue. You bringing up the rate of white women missing and justifying the native women missing with your lackluster excuses by saying “Do you know how many OD’ed, and were thrown into the bottom of a lake, easily 400. Alcohol related unreported deaths by their own men, that are further covered up by their band.” is an uneducated assumption with no factual basis and just plain ignorant. Also native Canadian women make up about 2% of the population so you trying to play the 1000 women down and make it seem like that number isn’t astronomically high is an issue, they are 5 times more likely to be killed violently and you’re part of the problem for not educating yourself. I’m going to go ahead and assume that you know what the word sovereignty means, and i know that’s a big ask, but in regards to the Indigenous in the states they have that. I can’t believe a fellow Canadian could be so simple. We stole their land, committed physical and cultural genocide and people like you continue the problem through your racial ignorance. Congratulations on being one of the supporters of our good ol’ government who consistently under fund the Native communities of Canada.

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