August 12, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) 

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada has no additional information regarding Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo other than what has been publicly released and has no comment on this specific matter at this time.

For more than 30 years, Pauktuutit’s priority has been to lead and support Inuit women in Canada through work that ranges from advocacy and policy development to community projects to address their unique interests and priorities for the social, cultural, political and economic betterment of Inuit women, their families and communities.

Pauktuutit recognizes that Inuit women face complex issues including barriers to their full participation in a healthy and harassment-free workplace. In 2013, Pauktuutit in partnership with the School of Social Work, University of British Columbia (with support from the Centre nationale de la recherché scientifique in Montpellier France), conducted qualitative research to understand how the Meadowbank gold mine impacts Inuit women and families living in Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake), Nunavut. The report was followed by a quantitative assessment.

The research found that although Inuit women are taking advantage of economic opportunities by participating in mine employment, they are experiencing significant sexual, verbal and racial harassment and abuse in the workplace. Nearly 50 per cent of the female respondents revealed that sexual harassment is a problem at the mine.

These findings were most recently confirmed in 2016 when Pauktuutit consulted Inuit women and stakeholders across Inuit Nunangat in the completion of a national strategy to address the barriers preventing Inuit women from successfully engaging in the northern economy, in partnership with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. The need to increase the awareness and advancement of women’s rights in the workplace was echoed across the North.

‘The results of our research were upsetting, but definitely not shocking.  Harassment in the workplace is a widespread issue affecting women in a variety of job sectors and workplaces. This issue represents the need to deal with the existing gender and power imbalances,’ said Pauktuutit President Rebecca Kudloo. Harassment and abuse in the workplace cannot be tolerated. These situations are even worse in the case of harassment and abuse by an individual’s supervisor,’ she added.

Pauktuutit is committed to ensuring that Inuit women are able to participate in and benefit from economic opportunities and will therefore work towards the prevention and resolution of harassment in the workplace.

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