The Current

The stakes are higher to report abuse as #MeToo hasn't come to Nunavut, says Iqaluit mayor

Women who try to report sexual harassment in the North face enormous risk, says Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern because the smaller communities mean there are fewer jobs, and there's still a tendency to believe abusers in a position of power.

Reporting abuse in small communities comes with high risk, says Redfern

Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern presented at the House of Commons standing committee on the Status of Women on Sept. 26. She says her comments about some male Inuit leaders caused her to receive death threats. (David Gunn/CBC)

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Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern was nervous when she spoke out about sexual harassment in the North recently because the #MeToo movement "hadn't come to Nunavut."

In small communities where jobs are scarce, reporting abuse carries a significant risk of a "firestorm," she told The Current's guest host Connie Walker.

"Their jobs are at risk, and if your job comes with housing, your housing is at risk," she said.

Last month, Redfern attended a Status of Women committee hearing in the House of Commons. When asked how politicians overcame the vast distances between communities in the North, Redfern said that one of the issues was male Inuit leaders believing they can "sexually harass or sexually assault or have relationships with [female colleagues] on the road."

An overall view of Iqaluit, Nunavut is shown on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Redfern has received praise from survivors for her remarks, but also criticism — and even death threats — that she was tarring all men with the same brush.

She joined The Current's guest host Connie Walker to discuss #MeToo and Indigenous communities in the North. Listen to their full conversation near the top of this page.

Produced by Suzanne Dufresne, Danielle Carr and Idella Sturino.