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For Immediate Release:  January 16, 2020

Report calls for ‘decolonization’ process to reverse failed strategy of assimilation

OTTAWA – A report released today on the police response to gendered violence in Inuit Nunangat reveals systemic racialized policing, embedded across institutional policies and practices.  According to the report’s recommendations, moving forward will require a fundamental shift in how northern policing is carried out to address the pervasiveness and severity of the violence that Inuit women experience, as well as the challenges they encounter in finding safety and security when violence occurs.

“Racialized policing persists in Inuit women’s encounters with the justice system and it goes well beyond a few individual officers holding stereotypes about Inuit,” said Ms. Rebecca Kudloo, President of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, which led the study.   “Police can respond more effectively to gendered violence by adopting a ‘decolonizing framework’ that helps officers move from being an outside force to becoming more integrated with northern communities they serve.”

“Decolonization means reversing the colonial strategy of assimilation,” said Dr. Elizabeth Comack of the University of Manitoba’s Department of Sociology and Criminology, who partnered with Pauktuutit to conduct the study.  “Rather than expecting Inuit to accept or comply with the colonial order, it is police and other social service agencies that need to assimilate into Inuit ways.”

A decolonized police approach is grounded in Inuit knowledge and world views, holistic and relationship-based.  Taking their lead from Inuit – especially Inuit women who have been harmed by gendered violence – police work in partnership with other agencies to foster community safety through problem-solving and conflict resolution.

The study examined the successes and challenges encountered in responding to gendered violence against Inuit women in Inuit Nunangat. The study provides an important window into the belief that gendered violence has become normalized for Inuit women.

In addition to multi-generational fallout from the residential school system, the study revealed a pattern of common contributing factors, from the perception that officers live separate from the community and have little cross-cultural training to slow emergency responses, disjointed dispatch systems and women being disbelieved when reporting abuse or even removed from their home instead of their abuser.

The study’s report details 15 specific recommendations to shift police officers from a position as community outsiders to being seen as collaborative community allies.  Highlights of the recommendations include:

  • Culturally Competent Policing – training on Inuit history and culture, as well as local Inuktut dialect;
  • Female Officers – one female officer present, if not leading, the statement-gathering process;
  • Inuit Advisory Committees – composed of elders, community leaders and cultural facilitators to ensure police practices and procedures are in line with Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit principles;
  • Trauma-informed Policing – trauma training that is relevant to the historical and contemporary experiences of Inuit to de-escalate situations and build positive relationships;
  • Duration of Postings – revisiting the RCMP policy of two-year postings (which can fuel the perception of rapid turnover), as longer postings can build trust and reciprocity in police-community relations;
  • Gender-Based Violence Training – delivered at least in part by victims’ advocates and enriched by the inclusion of Inuit survivors of domestic violence;
  • Inuit Civilian Positions – employing Inuit at each police department in various capacities such as interpreters, natural healers, and community patrols or peacekeepers;
  • Police Accessibility – urgent funding to address the lack of formalized, local police dispatch services across Inuit Nunangat with Inuktut speakers available to answer emergency calls 24/7.

In addition to a comprehensive literature review, in-depth qualitative interviews with 45 Inuit women and 40 service providers were conducted in the four regions in Inuit Nunangat: Inuvialuit, Nunavik, Nunavut, and Nunatsiavut. The Report in Brief and Recommendations are available at: https://www.pauktuutit.ca/abuse-prevention/gender-based-violence/

The release of the study’s findings coincides with discussions Pauktuutit is holding in Ottawa with women from Inuit Nunagat and urban centres to advance co-development of an action plan for the calls to justice in the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Funding for the study was provided by the Policy Development Contribution Program of Public Safety Canada, with in-kind contributions from Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and the University of Manitoba.  Since 1984, Pauktuuit has been the national organization and voice of Inuit women in Canada.

For more information contact:

Antoinette Brind’Amour,
613-316-8943;
abrindamour@pauktuutit.ca;

or Susan King,
613-724-1518;
susanking@sympatico.ca

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