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Violence & Abuse Prevention, Justice

Violence and abuse prevention have been among Pauktuutit’s top three priorities since 1984. With the guidance and support of Pauktuutit’s Board of Directors and membership, the Violence and Abuse Prevention department addresses a broad range of issues as they relate to the safety and well-being of women and children, including family violence, sexual abuse of children, elder abuse, human trafficking and victims’ rights.

It has only been three generations since Inuit in Canada were moved into permanent settlements, which caused the erosion of traditional culture, knowledge, practices, lifestyles and roles within the family and community. Traditionally, the roles of women and men were equally valued and were equally important to the survival of families and communities, and of Inuit as a people.

As the result of the experiences of forced attendance at Residential Schools, many children were prevented from learning about positive parenting from their own parents and have difficulty parenting their own children as adults. Contemporary social conditions, such as inadequate and overcrowded housing, high rates of unemployment and poverty, low educational attainment, food insecurity, and more contemporary problems, such as substance abuse and the highest rates of suicide in the country, have contributed to Inuit regions having the highest rates of violence in the country. Most communities are without specialized counselling and support services to address unresolved intergenerational trauma, which is a major mental health issue among Inuit.

Inuit communities continue to report the need for crisis and long-term counselling, safe shelters, second-stage housing and training of Inuit front-line workers in order to address these issues. Mental health has been identified as the primary health issue facing Inuit, including issues related to violence, abuse and unresolved trauma, but the lack of sustained resources has meant that change is painfully slow.

Women and children who are experiencing violence and abuse in their homes often have no place in their community to seek safety. More than 70% of the 53 Inuit communities across the Canadian Arctic do not have a safe shelter for women, and often the homes of family and friends are overcrowded. A plane ticket to another community may cost thousands of dollars, which is out of reach for most, particularly in times of crisis. For Inuit women, this can mean there can be literally nowhere to go to find safety, and many women have lost their lives to family violence.