There have never been so many murders in Winnipeg in a single year

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There have never been so many murders in Winnipeg in a single year

Manitoba's capital recorded its 45th 2022 murder.

The scene of a murder in Winnipeg in August 2022

Winnipeg recorded its 45th murder of the year around 2:20 a.m. Saturday. This is a record number of homicides as there are just under two months left before the end of 2022.

A 21-year-old man was shot on McDermot Avenue near Main Street. He succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

No suspects have been arrested and the Homicide Unit is investigating, according to police in Winnipeg.

With this murder, the city breaks the sad record of 44 homicides set in 2019. That year marked the beginning of a trend that has seen more than 40 murders committed each year. For the five years prior to 2019, the average was 24 murders.

Winnipeg's top 44 murders of 2022 by the numbers:

  • Seven victims were female.
  • 37 victims were male.
  • Age of oldest victim: 83 years old.
  • La youngest victim was a newborn.
  • Fourteen of 44 homicides remain unsolved as of November 4.

The vast majority of murder victims in Winnipeg are male, and two-thirds of these were between the ages of 20 and 39.

In 19 homicide cases, six of the victims did not know their attacker.

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Criminologist and director of the department of sociology and criminology at the University of Manitoba, Frank Cormier wishes to point out that even if each murder is too many, this type of rare event remains difficult to explain.

Obviously homicides are a problem. It's a problem in Winnipeg, where our homicide rates tend to be higher than in many other Canadian cities, he says.

Murders have an immeasurable impact on those around them. However, as scientists, [we cannot deduce much from these figures]. So the difference between 25, 35 or 45 murders doesn't mean much statistically, he continues.

Mr. Cormier notes that chance can play a major role in these events. There is a very fine line between a homicide and an ordinary assault, he said.

Factors such as proximity to health services, the medical condition of the victims and the involvement of third parties can play a crucial role given the type of homicides commonly committed in Winnipeg. These are indeed homicides that the researcher describes as disorganized.

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Winnipeg's typical murder was the result of a conflict that escalated between two people who knew each other and were using drugs or alcohol, according to Mr. Cormier. Settlements between street gangs and other premeditated murders are relatively rare.

In these disorganized murders, violence is not instrumentalized, it is not used to obtain something. It's not like using violence during a robbery, notes Mr. Cormier.

The criminologist, however, points to certain factors that could be contributing to the rise in the number of murders in Winnipeg.

He blames the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has worsened social isolation, reduced the incomes of many people, led to layoffs and traumatized people because of the illness that struck them or affected some of their relatives.

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Current social unrest is also contributing to heightened tensions and anger, according to Frank Cormier. In addition, the increasing use of opioids and methamphetamines can lead people to commit violent acts, he adds.

In Winnipeg, a city which has a large aboriginal population, the horrific effects of colonization and the consequences of aboriginal residential schools also contribute to this violence, according to the researcher.

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