One factor causing the rapidly increasing prison incarceration rates of Aboriginal women is their overall exposure to violence, an official with Corrections Services Canada says.

Kimberley Lavoie, the director of the Aboriginal Corrections Policy Division, was addressing the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in Ottawa Tuesday morning.

She says Aboriginal women are often exposed to various forms of domestic violence and, as victims; they then lash out in other violent ways, which results in incarceration.

“We know that Aboriginal women are certainly vastly overrepresented when it comes to violence,” she says. “We have domestic violence, we have spousal violence, we have inter-familial violence and people who are victims of violence will often lash out. And, so, a lot of these women are in for violent crimes.”

Between 2002 and 2012, the incarceration of Aboriginal women in Canada increased by more than 97 per cent.

Lavoie adds until the lower educational and higher unemployment rates of Aboriginal people are properly addressed, the corrections system is also going to see an increase in their numbers.

In addition, she told the committee one of the reasons healing lodges run by Aboriginal organizations are funded at a lower level than those run by Corrections Canada is the former include volunteer labour while the latter are run largely by unionized employees.

CSC currently runs four Aboriginal healing lodges while Indigenous organizations run the other four.