Budget must also support continued COVID-19 emergency response and recovery
for Inuit women, in Inuit Nunangat and urban centres
April 16, 2021 – OTTAWA. Increased funding for the construction and operation of Inuit-specific shelters and second-stage transition housing for women and children fleeing violence is among the top priorities for Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, in the federal budget being tabled on April 19.
“New funding for safe spaces for Inuit women and children will demonstrate some tangible government action on the June 2019 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry report,” said Rebecca Kudloo, President of Pauktuutit.
Pauktuutit is also calling for continued emergency support and recovery funding to address increased food insecurity and the loss of income Inuit women have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Women who sell their clothing, jewelry and art to tourists, or who sell their products at Inuit or Indigenous arts and craft fairs, have been especially hard hit during the pandemic,” Kudloo said.
Pauktuutit also wants to see greater investments in connectivity, education and training for women and youth so more Inuit can secure stable and well-paying jobs in sectors like healthcare, infrastructure, natural resources and technology, as well as the public service. “Inuit women are on the front lines providing social supports within our communities. Far too often however, due to gender bias and a lack of formal education, they are not recognized for their significant cultural contributions or paid for their tireless commitments,” Kudloo said.
There is an urgent need for funding for both shelters and transition housing for Inuit women. A shelter is a starting point to escape domestic violence and abuse. Transition housing is the next step to self-determination and self-reliance in order to permanently escape abuse.
Statistics Canada estimates Inuit women are 14 times more likely to experience violence than other women in Canada. Currently, more than 70% of Inuit communities do not have a safe shelter, and there are approximately 15 shelters serving 51 communities at any given time across Inuit Nunangat. Often, as a result, Inuit women and children fleeing violence must not only leave their homes and schools, but they must also leave their communities and family support systems.
Women who move south to escape violence frequently find that the transition from their home communities to urban centres is fraught with social and economic challenges, including securing housing and employment – not to mention becoming vulnerable to other forms of violence and exploitation.
Pauktuutit is the national non-profit organization representing all Inuit women in Canada. Its mission is to foster a greater awareness of the needs of Inuit women, and to encourage their participation in community, regional and national concerns in relation to social, cultural and economic development.