National Aboriginal Women’s Summit (NAWS) III
November 8, 2012 (Ottawa, ON) Pauktuutit was pleased to be a participant at the recent National Aboriginal Women’s Summit, co-chaired by the Province of Manitoba and the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Pauktuutit’s Interim President, Rebecca Kudloo, was also pleased to represent Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami at the meeting of provincial and territorial governments and other national Aboriginal organizations.
For the first time, Pauktuutit was able to speak directly to elected and senior officials of the provinces and territories about the priorities and concerns of Inuit women from across the Canadian Arctic. Pauktuutit was also able to consult with elected and senior officials from Nunavut and Nunatsiavut to develop consensus recommendations that were submitted to the co-chairs.
With regard to the call for a national inquiry to address the issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women, Rebecca Kudloo advised the delegations that “Inuit women are often at the highest risk of violence and death in our homes and with our families. The Pauktuutit Board and AGM delegates have determined over the last several years that the lack of safe shelters in more than 70 per cent of our communities must be addressed on an emergency basis, and to us this is a greater priority at this time than a national inquiry.”
There is much to support in the objectives and potential outcomes of both a national task force and national framework to address violence against First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, and Pauktuutit appreciates the specific references to Inuit women, both in the framework document prepared by Manitoba and papers prepared by the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations. The scope of any national initiatives must be broad enough to include Inuit-specific concerns and priorities. Pauktuutit recommends the following specific additions.
An examination of the socio-economic factors that contribute to the vulnerability of Inuit women and girls must address the housing crisis in our communities. There are many women who feel they must stay in violent relationships because there are no housing options as well as a severe lack of safe shelters in Inuit communities.
Any national initiatives must address the broader determinants of health and inequalities that are the result of poverty that makes women more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.
The consequences of the lack of safe shelters in Inuit communities must be specifically examined. This situation has and will continue to contribute to the loss of lives of Inuit women and children. There is also a need to address the consequences of the lack of many basic services in Inuit communities
Inuit women’s organizations require resources to participate equally and to be able to consult with their members in all four Arctic regions to provide informed input to the process and outcomes of a task force and/or national framework. Any reference to or allocation of financial resources must take into account the high cost of travel and consultation in the Arctic, as well as include support for the capacity of our representative organizations.
An ombudsperson is required to oversee law enforcement and justice workers and report to the public about issues and concerns related to racism and other systemic issues.
There is an urgent need to raise awareness among the Inuit public about preventing and reducing the intolerable rates of violence in our communities. There is also a need for Inuit-specific research, done in partnership with the communities, to better understand issues such as child sexual abuse and human trafficking of Inuit women and children so we can develop effective interventions and supports.
Finally, the issues of sentencing and healing for offenders must be addressed.
For further information please contact:
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada
Linda Arsenault Papatsie