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Sherbrooke is the only large city in the country not to have recorded a homicide in 2022

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The city of Sherbrooke is the only large Canadian city which recorded no homicides in 2022 (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

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The city of Sherbrooke is the only large Canadian city that recorded no homicides in 2022. The 2022 data on homicides published by Statistics Canada on Wednesday shows that Reine de l'Estrie is the only among the 36 Canadian cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants to have been spared this type of violence last year.

It' is a pleasant surprise, but at the same time, we try not to take it too much for granted, reacted the deputy mayor of Sherbrooke, Raïs Kibonge, when joined by The Canadian Press.

Mr. Kibonge knows full well that his city has had its difficulties in the past with organized crime, in this case the Hells Angels, who were well established there in a bunker abandoned since 2009 and demolished in 2021. I don't know if it's the passage of time or the work of different police departments, but apparently we've become less interesting territory. Organized crime must have migrated a little elsewhere, or it found a way to really hide better!

When measured in terms of homicide rate, or the number of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, the city of Gatineau comes third, with a rate of 0.58.

Quebec City comes in fourth place with a rate of 0.60 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. If we narrow the comparisons to the 12 Canadian cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants, the Old Capital ranks second, behind Oshawa (0.57), but far ahead of the others.

Montreal ranks in the middle of the pack of cities with more than half a million inhabitants with a rate of 1.49 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, but the metropolis remains well below the Canadian national rate, which stands at 2.25.

As for the two other Quebec cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, both Saguenay (1.16) and Trois-Rivières (1.82) are well below the Canadian average.

Quebec also does well overall, systematically ranking second or third among the provinces and territories every year , posting a rate of 1.26 in 2022. However, even if it maintains the third rank, it is still a significant increase of 21% compared to the previous year.

As for New Brunswick, the province saw an increase of 33%, the second largest in the country, but its rate of 1.85 still placed it in fourth place. The city of Moncton also ranks highly, with its rate of 1.11 homicides per 100,000 residents placing it ninth among 36 Canadian cities with populations over 100,000.

Of note, Prince Edward Island ranks first provincially, also boasting a rate of zero homicides per 100,000 residents, but as there are no more cities or metropolitan areas there of 100,000 inhabitants, its capital, Charlottetown, escapes the ranking of Canadian cities, although it has achieved the same feat as Sherbrooke.

In contrast, the cities of Thunder Bay, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba have worrying rates of 12.05 and 6.10, respectively. Manitoba also recorded the largest increase in its rate, a jump of 40% compared to 2021. The Northwest Territories (6.58), Manitoba as a whole (6.24) and Saskatchewan (5.94) have the highest rates and by far, well above the Canadian average.

The Canadian rate of 2.25 was also up 8% from 2021, when the country saw 874 homicides during the year. Statistics Canada also reports that this is a fourth consecutive annual increase. The federal agency, however, takes care to point out that despite recent increases, homicides remain a rare event in Canada; they represented less than 0.2% of all police-reported violent crimes in 2022.

In detail, we note that homicides attributable to gangs (202 homicides, or 0.52 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants) greatly contributed to the overall increase in homicides in the country. Under these conditions, it is hardly surprising to note that the number of accused or suspects under the age of 18 increased in 2022. This number almost tripled, in fact, while, among the homicides filed, 90 young people were accused of homicide in 2022, compared to 33 in 2021 and an average of 39 over the previous 10 years. The rate of youth accused of homicide in 2022 (1.23 per 100,000 youth) was 2.2 times higher than the average of the previous 10 years (0.56 per 100,000 youth).

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">As for victims, a disturbing statistic comes up again this year, namely that 225 homicide victims in 2022 were Indigenous people, or a little more than a quarter. The rate of homicides committed against Indigenous victims was 10.98 victims per 100,000 Indigenous people. This is a rate more than six times higher than the rate of homicides committed against non-Indigenous people (1.69 per 100,000).

Another disturbing piece of data comes from the report, which tells us that in 2022, five police officers were victims of homicide. This is the highest number recorded since 1985, when five police officers were also victims of homicide.

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