Inuktut version available here. French version available shortly

The President of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada (PIWC), Rebecca Kudloo, today issued the following statement on the Nunavut court decision acquitting Sandra Ameralik of second-degree murder in the death of her spouse, Howie Aaluk.

“The circumstances and events that led to the Nunavut court decision acquitting the defendant of second-degree murder in the death of her spouse are a tragedy not only for the deceased and his former partner, but also their six children, the residents of Gjoa Haven and all of our communities.  

“Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada (PIWC) is glad that our organization’s work on family violence was helpful to the Judge.

“Nunavut’s high rates of intimate partner violence are part of the horrific legacy of colonization, re-location of Inuit, and the effects of residential schooling. 

“Today, the intergenerational trauma suffered by Inuit manifests in complex and harmful ways, including alcohol and substance abuse, as well as domestic violence.  

“Further, overcrowded housing, inadequate healthcare services, and gaps in policing and the justice system put Inuit women and their children in even greater danger. 

“No woman subjected to abuse by her spouse should be forced to resort to violence to defend herself and her children due to a lack of police protection or an emergency shelter or transitional housing where they can seek safety. 

“Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada in Lavallee said that women who have been beaten by their spouse may defend themselves.

“Action to address intimate partner violence must be: 

  • Culturally and community-based; 
  • Supported by comprehensive public health and healthcare programs and services, including proactive and preventative policing, support for mental health, trauma and substance addictions; adequately funded from governments, and 
  • Supported by leadership from Inuit organizations like Pauktuutit, as well as the wisdom of our Elders. 

“At the time of the incident in June 2017 there was no shelter or safe house in Gjoa Haven, one of the 70 per cent of communities in Inuit Nunangat that do not have a safe shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence. 

“The federal government’s recent commitment to build five Inuit-specific shelters is a step in the right direction. However, as the tragedy in Gjoa Haven illustrates, more funding for shelters is still urgently needed. 

“Additionally, emergency dispatch and policing services in our communities must be highly responsive to all calls for help and protection, due to fears and incidents of domestic violence and abuse.”

— Rebecca Kudloo

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Pauktuutit is the national non-profit organization representing all Inuit women in Canada. Its mandate 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.

For more information, please contact: 

Susan King,, 613-724-1518