Meeting Survivors’ Needs: Gender-Based Violence Against Inuit Women and the Criminal Justice System

Gender-based violence refers to physical and sexual assaults against women and is a serious issue for Inuit women of all ages. The criminal justice system has been granted a key role in responding to this violence. Pauktuutit conducted a research project to study the criminal justice system’s response to gender-based violence in Inuvialuit, Nunavut, and Nunavik to increase awareness and understanding of the needs, challenges, and service gaps many Inuit women face. Inuit women with lived experience were ascertained and confidential interviews were conducted to hear their powerful testimonials and document their voices. Justice-related service providers were also sought and interviewed about their perspectives.

The primary research question was: How can the criminal justice system be made more responsive to the needs of Inuit women who experience gender-based violence? The goal was to advance effective criminal justice strategies to alleviate gender-based violence and prevent re-victimization, with a focus on the needs and safety of Inuit women while seeking legal support.

The NOW Group provided creative concepts for filming Inuit actors ensuring key messages are meaningful for Inuit women and to help service providers understand the complexities of gender-based violence for the social media campaign.

The Inuit women’s Advisory Committee for this project provided knowledge, skills, and guidance to ensure the project reflected the lived experience of Inuit women in three Inuit regions of Inuit Nunangat. Committee members linked the researchers to important community contacts, recommended approaches grounded in Inuit values and beliefs, and advised on key messages for the social media campaign.

We thank our Advisory Committee including Yvonne Niego, Deputy Minister/GN Department of Family Services; Peggy Day, After Care Coordinator/Inuvialuit Regional Corporation; Heloise Chartrand, NRBHSS/RRSSSN Family Violence & Sexual Assault Agent Child, Youth and Family; Valerie Locke, Suicide Prevention Liaison Worker, SSSS government Quebec.

Tell the Canadian government: Inuit women and girls have the right to be safe

The rate of violence experienced by Inuit women is 14 times higher than the national average. Inuit communities urgently need new funding for shelters and transitional housing.

There is still a long way to go to end gender-based violence. The system of courts and policing is failing too many of us.

Add your name to call on the government for more resources for Inuit women.