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Addressing Inuit Women’s Economic Security & Prosperity in the Resource Extraction Industry

The report was prepared to support Inuit women, their families, communities, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, as well as industry and government partners by illuminating the strengths, challenges and realities that Inuit women experience as they work in the resource extraction industry.

Inuit women have been working in the resource extraction industry for decades, providing meaningful employment opportunities and economic security for these women and their families (Pauktuutit & UBC 2014, 2016) Inuit women often represent the largest proportion of women working at extraction sites in Inuit Nunangat (Pauktuutit & UBC 2016).  These workforces are historically male-dominated with women a minority group (Gibson et al. 2016).

Indigenous women in the resource economy are often exposed to racism and discrimination at work, which extends to employment opportunities and wage inequality (The Firelight Group, Lake Babine Nation & Nak’azdli Whut’en 2017).

The report explores these dynamics, examining Inuit women’s economic security and prosperity as well as illuminating their reality of workplace sexual violence and harassment in the resource extraction industry.

To undertake this project, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada (PIWC) partnered with Firelight Research Inc. to develop and deliver surveys to Inuit women with experience as employees in the resource extraction industry.

Building on existing research completed by Pauktuutit in 2014, 2016 and 2020, this new survey explored the impacts of working in the mining industry on Inuit women and families more broadly.

Methodology

  • Study employed questionnaire survey featuring quantitative and qualitative variables.
  • ‘Mixed-methods’ approach used both open- and closed-ended questions to allow for a range of responses (esp. re: potentially sensitive issues).
  • Participants were asked about their knowledge and experiences re: company approaches towards women’s safety, sexual violence or harassment at work, and awareness of support services.
  • Survey content designed in close collaboration between Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, the Project Advisory Committee and Firelight Research Inc.                                                                  
  • Survey pre-tested to ensure approaches were respectful of Inuit culture due to its sensitive subject.
  • Feedback from Inuit women (current & former employees) critical to methodological development.
  • Inuit women’s input assisted team with appropriate wording and cultural insights for survey content.
  • Strengths-based approach helped reduce ‘trigger’ potential for further trauma to respondents.

Survey Sample, Locations & Timing

  • Participants sought via community posters, radio ads and ‘snowball sampling’ (participants encouraged other women they know with experience in the resource extraction industry to also come forward).
  • Findings based on the survey results of 29 Inuit women who voluntarily agreed to participate.
  • Surveys conducted July-December 2019 in three of four regions of Inuit Nunangat: Arviat (Nunavut); Salluit (Nunavik); Inuvik (Inuvialuit); and Baker Lake (Nunavut).

Limitations

  • Findings limited to literature reviewed and experiences of survey respondents — what they were willing and able to report. Therefore, survey results are a partial and conservative representation of perspectives from Inuit women who work in the resource extraction industry.
  • 31 Inuit women surveyed, but two surveys excluded from analysis due to data collection discrepancies.
  • Industry employers’ names and responses associated to specific communities are kept confidential.

COVID-19 Limitations

The original research scope intended to include surveys of Inuit women in the Nunatsiavut region in 2020.

However, while awaiting ethics approval from the Nunatsiavut Research Centre, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, halting research applications and travel, rendering it impossible to administer surveys in Nunatsiavut.

Given these unpreceded circumstances, this report is limited to the results, analysis and findings based on the 29 responses from Inuit women residing in Nunavut, Nunavik and Inuvialuit.

Project Team Members & Funding

  • Advisory Committee included reps from Inuvialuit Regional Corp., Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Women in Resource Development Corp., Oxfam Canada, Makivik Corp., & Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. Research Team included reps from Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and Firelight Research Inc.
  • Funding for the study was provided by Women and Gender Equality (WAGE) Canada, with additional in-kind contributions from Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. 

For a full copy of the report, click here.
For more information, please contact Susan King, 613.724.1518, sking@pauktuutit.ca

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