Federal announcements aim to address violence against Inuit women
Federal government commits to funding five shelters in Inuit Nunangat
Announcements by two federal agencies in the last two days aim to address the high rates of violence experienced by Inuit women.
"This is an example of meaningful reconciliation with Inuit women, so we are very happy about that," Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada told CBC News.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced new funding yesterday for shelters for Inuit women experiencing domestic violence at the organization's annual general meeting.
At Pauktuutit's meeting last year, which Miller attended, that was the organization's highest priority ask, Kudloo said.
Miller committed an unspecified amount of funding for one shelter in each of the four regions that comprise Inuit Nunangat — Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region — and one shelter in Ottawa.
"We've been asking for $20 million," Kudloo said.
"We probably won't get that exact amount, but they have said they will fund the shelters," she said.
Inuit women face 14 times higher rates of violence
In a press release, Miller said Inuit women and children face violence at a rate 14 times higher than other women in Canada and many of them do not have a safe place to escape.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this already dire situation, where some women are more concerned about domestic violence during the pandemic than they are about the virus," Miller said.
Kudloo said she hopes the shelters will be able to provide programming aimed at healing as well.
"You can't keep putting women in shelters without healing both men and women. So that's something we have been pushing for too, is healing for our people in their language, if they choose," she said.
Kudloo said she hopes the shelters can begin construction as soon as possible, ideally while the Liberal government is still in power.
But location, design and capacity are among the details that still need to be figured out before that can happen, she said.
New agreement between RCMP and Pauktuutit
The second announcement came from Pauktuutit and the RCMP, who have agreed to a new partnership to address concerns around policing of Inuit women.
The agreement is designed to implement the recommendations made by Pauktuutit in a November report.
The partnership outlines regular meetings between the two organizations and reporting mechanisms to keep track of progress.
Kudloo said conversations with the RCMP leading up to this agreement have been constructive.
"It has been very useful to meet with them and explain what we go through, especially women who are looking for help, and the mistrust of what happened before in the past," Kudloo said.
The issues the agreement aims to address include the police response time to calls, culturally sensitive training for RCMP in Inuit communities, and extending how long officers are posted in communities in order to build more trust.