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

The increased participation of Inuit women in the resource economy provides an opportunity to improve Inuit cultural understanding in the workplace.  

With careful planning and investment, Inuit communities can experience a range of benefits from resource extraction projects.

However, given the number of Inuit women who experience sexual violence and harassment at work — including those who do not report these incidents — the Report findings also suggest a high level of uncertainty among Inuit women regarding their rights in the workplace, as well as their feelings of safety and security.

Key Recommendations for Extractive Companies

The survey asked Inuit women to reflect on their experience working in the resource extraction industry and what could have been done better to support them when reporting incidents of sexual harassment or violence.

Their suggestions for resource extraction companies can be summed up in four key recommendations:

  1. Take decisive action when a woman reports an incident of sexual violence or harassment;
  2. Develop and implement specific company policies and procedures to respond to these incidents;
  3. Strengthen the supports provided by human resources, management and supervisors; and
  4. Invest in and provide more on-site resources for women, such as counselling services and childcare.

Improving Women’s Safety at Work Sites

The participants in the research study identified a series of actions workplaces ought to take to foster or improve Inuit women’s safety, including the following recommendations:

  • Provide more Inuit-specific support services to employees such as grief and healing programs, mental health counselling and an on-site social worker.
  • Offer all support services in Inuktut and within Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (the Inuit traditional knowledge often abbreviated as ‘IQ’).
  • Provide more in-community and on-site childcare options for Inuit employees and their families.
  • Offer flexible work schedules and rotations so employees — particularly Inuit women — can better balance familial responsibilities.
  • Hire more Inuit staff and specifically Inuit women, in positions such as HR, management and supervisors.
  • Provide cultural-safety training for all employees.
  • Acknowledge that sexual violence and harassment is an issue in remote work camps and take more decisive action to address it.
  • Raise awareness of company policies and procedures around sexual harassment so all employees understand what to do if an incident occurs and what actions the company will take to punish offenders and support victims.
  • Have another woman present when reporting issues or incidents of sexual violence and harassment in the workplace.
  • Take a zero-tolerance policy with offenders — they should be terminated, and their actions reported to the RCMP.
  • Follow-up with employees who report incidents of sexual harassment or violence, so they are aware of the outcome and actions taken by the company.

If policies and procedures within the worksite are improved and designed to support Inuit women, more women may feel comfortable speaking up and bringing their concerns forward.

More importantly, improved policies and procedures could help to prevent the occurrence of sexual violence and harassment in the first place.

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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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