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New Indigenous shelter funding leaves out Inuit women and children fleeing violence

OTTAWA, June 2, 2020 – Today, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada called on Prime Minister Trudeau to immediately implement at least one of the 46 Inuit-specific recommendations contained in last year’s Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) – namely, funding for five new Inuit shelters in Inuit Nunangat and in Ottawa.

“In 2015, Prime Minister Trudeau made a commitment to ensure the equality of all women in Canada. This must include Inuit women,” said Rebecca Kudloo, President of Pauktuutit.

This urgent plea to reconsider funding for shelters comes after Friday’s announcement of almost $100 million in federal funding for the construction and operation of 12 new shelters for Indigenous women and girls.  However, the new funding does not include any Inuit-specific shelters for women and children fleeing violence – despite collaborative and productive discussions between Pauktuutit and key cabinet ministers and federal officials in recent months and weeks regarding this urgently needed investment.

Specifically, Pauktuutit is calling for an immediate investment of $20 million for five new shelters for Inuit women and children.  This funding would build five desperately needed multi-purpose shelters and transitional housing units in Nunavut and in the Inuvialuit, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut regions, as well as in Ottawa, which has the highest urban Inuit population in Canada.

Adding to the disappointment was last Thursday’s announcement from Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, that the federal government will be delaying the tabling of the MMIWG Inquiry’s National Action Plan, which was supposed to be released by June 2020.

Pauktuutit has provided the government with recommendations to inform an Inuit-specific response to the MMIWG Inquiry’s Calls to Justice through two closing submissions to the National Inquiry.  It is ready to apply the Inuit-specific co-development framework now in place for the development of a culturally appropriate action plan with Inuit women from across Canada.  It believes a comprehensive plan can and must be in place no later than December 2020.

COMMENTS FROM PAUKTUUTIT LEADERSHIP:

“Last week’s announcement is deeply disappointing for Inuit women whose mothers, daughters, grandchildren and friends have been missing or murdered and who live with the fear and devastation of the highest rates of domestic violence in Canada. It’s like Inuit women have again been forgotten and our voices have fallen on deaf ears.”

— Rebecca Kudloo, President, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

“The lack of shelters often results in Inuit women moving south in search of safety. However, in cities like Ottawa, Winnipeg and Montreal, they are at high risk of more violence, life-threatening drugs like opioids and exploitation, including sex-trafficking.”

— Gerri Sharpe, Vice-President, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

“We bared our souls and relived the pain when we told our stories to the Inquiry. I am surprised there was no consideration for Nunatsiavut or Nunavik.”

— Charlotte Wolfrey, Secretary-Treasurer, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

RELEVANT FACTS:

  • Inuit women face violence at a rate 14 times greater than other women in Canada.
  • Of the 51 communities in Inuit Nunangat, 37 of them (73%) do not have safe places for Inuit women and girls fleeing violence.
  • Pauktuutit’s shelter investment request is in line with the MMIWG Inquiry’s Calls for Justice, which included the “imperative” recommendation that the federal government “fund safe houses, shelters, transition houses and second stage housing” for Inuit women, children and 2SLGBTQQIA fleeing violence.” (Recommendation 16.9)
  • Historically, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs has only had authority to provide funding for shelters on First Nations reserves, resulting in a glaring policy and program gap for vulnerable Inuit women and children.

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For more media inquiries contact:

Northern media :
Antoinette Brind’Amour,
Director of Communications
613‐316‐8943
abrindamour@pauktuutit.ca

Southern & national media :
Catherine Fortin LeFaivre,
613‐979‐8683
CFL@impactcanada.com (français)

Susan King,
613‐724‐1518
007susanking@gmail.com
(English)

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