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Statistics show lower life expectancies, higher homicide rates in Canada's North

Radio Canada International and CBC News

The Inuit live 10 years less than other Canadians.

Such is the sad observation established by Statistics Canada. This federal government agency has released results from a study evaluating life expectancies and causes of death over 19 years in the four Canadian regions with mostly Inuit populations.

The study reveals that the life expectancy of residents of Inuit regions increased during this period but still remains lower than that of other Canadians.

From 1989 to 2008, life expectancy for Inuit men increased from 63.5 to 67.7 years, and life expectancy for Inuit women increased from 71.1 years to 72.8 years.

Elsewhere in Canada, life expectancy for men increased from 74.1 to 77.5 years and 79.7 years to 81.3 years for women.

Injury, illness lead causes of death

Among Inuit males 15 to 24 years old, injuries and especially self-inflicted injuries explain the gap in life expectancy compared to other Canadian men.

Among Inuit women, causes of death are more likely to be cancer and cancers and respiratory diseases, particularly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

These results have limitations, according to Statistics Canada. The authors have used aggregate data from the four Inuit regions that form the Nunangat. Twenty-two percent of the inhabitants of these regions are not Inuit and could be included in the study.

Nunangat includes the regions of Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut.

Homicide rate is highest in Nunavut

Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut had the country’s highest homicide rate last year, according to numbers from another Statistics Canada report.

Nunavut had five homicides in 2012, which resulted in a rate of 14.84 people per 100,000. The overall Canadian homicide rate per 100,000 was only 1.56. Nunavut had seven homicides in 2011.

Statistics Canada says in 2012, Canada had its lowest homicide rate since 1966. Police recorded 543 homicides, down 55 from the previous year.

Quebec, the Northwest Territories and Ontario were the only jurisdictions with increased homicides in 2012. The Northwest Territories had five homicides in 2012, up from three in 2011.

Yukon had no homicides in either 2011 or 2012.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.