Rebecca Kudloo, President
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

June 15, 2017

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Minister Bennett and Minister Monsef for coming to our office today for these important announcements. We value our working relationship with the Ministers and their departments, and our ongoing partnerships are part of our shared commitment to reconciliation and healing. I know I can count on them to help the Prime Minister keep his commitment to the equality of all women in Canada and be sure that includes the equality of Inuit women in Canada.

I would like to thank Minister Bennett and her officials for making our Memorandum of Understanding with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada possible. Minister, we have known each other for many years and you are very aware of our unique needs and priorities. We have worked with INAC on many projects over the years, but this agreement will help us move forward on important policy issues including the need for federal funding for safe shelters in Inuit communities. I also appreciate the Minister’s commitment for helping us to have joint meetings with senior officials from other departments including Health, Justice, Public Safety and Status of Women to develop a whole of government approach to our shared priorities.

We have difficult but essential conversations ahead about how –  together –  we can find solutions to issues that include ending violence against Inuit women and children, healing from unresolved trauma and abuse, more services and supports for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and the challenges Inuit women face in our southern cities. You are helping us to help you to achieve a better tomorrow for all Canadians. This historic agreement can truly be a concrete step in our shared path to a renewed relationship based on reconciliation, healing and the equality of all women in Canada.

For the past 30 years, Pauktuutit has taken a leadership role in its efforts to prevent and address violence against women and child sexual abuse while raising public awareness and education about these issues. As Pauktuutit Inuit Women in Canada, our approach has always been that we all have to work together in healing and improving all of our lives. Child sexual abuse is a global public health concern. It knows no racial, ethnic, class or cultural boundaries. We know that the rates of violence against Inuit women and girls across Inuit Nunangat are the highest in the country and we need to work with our men and boys as part of the solution. We also know that many people who were sexually or physically abused have a lot of anger that they may express as adults by abusing others. We do not have basic supports and services in our small communities that are taken for granted in southern cities. Violence against women and the sexual abuse of children are often an open secret in our communities but generally not talked about because it is so difficult.

Over the next three years we will continue the work we started from 2013 to 2015 with Inuit men and boys. We will do a broad survey among Inuit women, men and youth so we can better understand the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that support these rates of violence. Increasing our understanding will help all of us develop and deliver more effective programs and services. We will build a strong network of front line workers, service providers and other experts to support better collaboration, community engagement and outcomes. We will be developing a role model campaign, rooted in our culture, language, strength and resilience, to encourage and support others and give hope that a better future is always possible. We will also develop more practical tools to support local healing efforts. In the past Inuit women and men worked together to survive.

We continue to have some very difficult times. We all deserve to live healthy and safe lives, but in a family where even one person is hurting everyone is affected. As Inuit, we are all affected by violence and abuse. I believe in us, and with our many partners including the Government of Canada, we can make a better future for our people.