Inuit women share stories of abuse in campaign to curb domestic violence

An Inuit women's group is encouraging women to report domestic violence with a new video campaign.

The AnanauKatiget Tumingit Regional Association wants more women to speak out and seek help

Kim Campbell-McLean hopes two videos produced by the AnanauKatiget Tumingit Regional Association will give Inuit women living in violent homes encouragement to report abuse and find help. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

A women's group from Nunatsiavut has produced two videos as part of a campaign to end domestic violence in Inuit communities.

The AnanauKatiget Tumingit Regional Association reached out to women in the community of every age group to record their stories of domestic abuse and detail how they overcame their struggles.

The association's executive director, Kim Campbell-McLean, said domestic violence in her community is highly stigmatized, and far too common.

"We wanted everybody to be involved in this project because it takes a whole community to make a change," she said.

The videos feature powerful and inspiring accounts from survivors of domestic abuse, according to Campbell-McLean.

Her group sent them to women's shelters in Nain, Hopedale, and Rigolet. They will soon also be available on the association's website. 

We don't have the funds to do it or statistics to back up what women are saying.- Kim Campbell-McLean

Campbell-McLean hopes women who see the videos will realize they are not alone and that there are supports available to help them leave abusive homes.

"I hope they get encouragement from it, and I hope they get love and support from all the women that were involved in the project, because we all support them and we all have their back."

More documentation needed to get help

Encouraging women to get out is not the only goal of the association's project.

Campbell-McLean said there needs to be a clearer picture of just how many women in Labrador are being abused in order to make a proper case for more programs and funding to help those in need.

"It's vital that organizations, such as ours, have numbers to back up our work," she said. "We know the work needs to be done, we know what needs to be done, but we don't have the funds to do it or statistics to back up what women are saying."

AnânauKatiget Tumingit Regional Inuit Women’s Association Inc. was established in 2007. (Website)

Campbell-McLean said occurrences of abuse are not always reported, and there are several reasons why.

"Housing may be an issue. Some women may want to leave, but fear their children will be removed from their custody," she said.

"A lot of our women are stay-at-home mothers, living in the traditional role. If a spouse has to leave, lack of income is a real concern."

With more funding, she believes the right supports can be put in place to help alleviate some of the concerns for women who want to get out.

"I see so many times, too many times, women and children that have to leave their home communities — their family, their support," Campbell-McLean said.

"We are very traditional people, our family is everything to us, and to be taken away from that structure and support system is very difficult for women."

With files from Labrador Morning