Nunatsiaq News
LETTERS: Nunavut February 06, 2018 - 1:30 pm

It’s time to talk about the sexual assault of teenagers in Nunavut

"Our schools need to engage all students in talking about this"


Now, against the backdrop of #MeToo, is a perfect time for our schools in Nunavut to begin a profound discussion with all students about male-female relationships.

Can it be that 40 per cent or more of our young women under the age of 16 are sexually assaulted?

Sexual assaults ruin women, turning their lives upside down for years and decades.

The not-uncommon descent into drug and alcohol addiction that follows assaults is a reach for help, anything to numb the horror.

Cutting, promiscuity and other self-destructive behaviours are often the result of assaults that have left these young people loathing themselves, fearful, defensive, but trying to regain some kind of control over their lives.

Young women who have been raped cannot function “normally” at school, no matter how hard they try.

Assaults leave them overwhelmed, confused, traumatized, and unable to participate without acting out. And no wonder. 

Young women, who are curious and want to experiment, and perhaps want to grow up too quickly, are often taken by surprise by the effects of drugs or alcohol at parties and are vulnerable to being assaulted. This happens all the time.

The men, of all ages, who provide the parties and drugs need to be held accountable for the terrible damage they are causing, for the lives they are ruining.

Our schools need to play a substantial role in reversing the normalization of sexual assault and help protect our young women.

Now, with men held to account all over the continent for their damaging behaviour towards women, our schools need to engage all students in talking about this.

(Name withheld by request)

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(19) Comments:

#1. Posted by Teacher on February 06, 2018

Yes, there needs to be widespread, consistent education about the exploitation of vulnerable girls and women. But schools cannot do it alone. Every sector of our territory needs to hold itself responsible for this.

#2. Posted by Males only? on February 06, 2018

Think its a little dangerous claiming its only “men” that are the root of this evil, not every male in nunavut is a sexual predator, i see alot of women going around too,

#3. Posted by Nunavumiut on February 06, 2018

I agree with this. Also, may I add that coping skills need to be taught. Relationships need to well defined, boundaries set & understood. As a parent, I would rather have the tools to talk to my children about the choices they make; to understand their bodies are changing, to understand healthy and unhealthy choices and to be able to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe way. Yes, teachers can teach about the changes our bodies go through, they can teach about the effects of drugs and alcohol, they sure can teach healthy and unhealthy relationships, they can teach coping skills. But ultimately, I believe parents are responsible for teaching their children manners, their choice of lifestyle and who they associate with. As a parent, I would rather teach my children right from wrong my way. Teachers can help, but not raise my children. We need to help each other create a safe environment for our children.

#4. Posted by A Male on February 06, 2018

@#2 Again with the reflexive moral equivalencies. I don’t doubt that there might be women who might be on the “forward” side, but are you really that desirable - yet somehow defenseless at the same time? (maybe you are Prince?) Get your head out of the sand.

#5. Posted by Red pill on February 06, 2018

In order to address the sexual assault, manipulation, harassment and coercion of young girls would mean looking at a number of our leaders. How many local community leaders are known to engage in suspect sexual encounters with girls half their age? Too many. I can think of four local presidents and “good guy” community organizers who I know to have sleazy and exploitative relationships with young Inuit girls.

Just look at how many men were quick to defend MP Tootoo for his inappropriate sexual relationship with an unstable junior staffer. The problem goes deep and it goes high up to some of the most powerful men in the territory.

#6. Posted by Northerner on February 07, 2018

Yes #5 is right. Nunavut men at the very top of our society and our organizations, and I mean the very top, have been getting away with sexual assault, sexual harassment, coercion of young girls and woman of all ages for many, many years and still are.

What Hunter Tootoo admitted to doing when he spoke in public is disgusting but there are powerful Nunavut men out there who are even worse than him and they have never been caught.

All you have to do is make a list of our so-called founders of Nunavut and then check off the list. It is incredible how many of them have a criminal history of sexual assault or reputations for harassment or manipulating young girls, not to mention wife-beating.

Our teenage boys are just imitating the leaders in our society and our communities, following our so-called role models.

#7. Posted by Parent on February 07, 2018

As a parent of a teen girl, i teach my daughter what is ok. Good touch bad touch, only if you give permission, this is your body ect…... How many parents of teen Boys teach their boys not to touch without permission, no to rape, not to beat ect…..
Its so easy to focus on the victims of sexual assault. When are these Boys/Men/sexual predators going to be taught that it is wrong to touch without permission. What % of Men in Nunavut turn out to be sexual predators. WE have the highest rates in Canada. Why is that?

#8. Posted by Irony on February 07, 2018

I almost choke when I see the large number of Inuit kids being molested by Inuit themselves.

Inuit always want to blame the priests, the social worker, the school assistant who are non-Inuit. 
But they are still way too closed down about the effect Inuit are having on other Inuit.

Wake up - time to be honest and realistic! Spread the work to other Inuit, it is wrong, wrong, wrong to do this to people.

It has to stop!

#9. Posted by Long overdue on February 08, 2018

By the time me and some close relatives left our traditional camp, we
were all female, and some had intercourse by the time they were 10
years old from close relatives.
Thank the lord for residential school and Stringer Hall!
Every story has two tellers, every coin has two sides.
Unfortunate things happen all over the world.
I talk for myself only.

#10. Posted by Inuk on February 08, 2018

#8 when it was never like that before residential schools and how it is today, you have to ask why is it happening?

Why is it happening today? The effect of change in a very short time line, abuse during those changes, the present situation and how to move forward without losing anymore of yourself.

But for someone like you just putting the blame all on Inuit and the underlying tone of your comment sure doesn’t help us move forward on this issue.

What are the plans in place right now? Mental support? Programs? Treatment centres?

#11. Posted by Long Overdue #8 on February 08, 2018

I tell the truth and if you cannot handle that or try to down play it, then
that is up to you.
Are you saying rape and incest did not exist before residential school?
Can you please explain yourself better?
An anthropologist has shown interest in our sad tales.

#12. Posted by Inuk on February 08, 2018

#11 you sound very angry, life before residential schools were a more stable and close net family to compare that of after the residential schools era.

Have you ever read any of the reports and statements made by students who attended residential schools? It would give you some insight to why we have so much problems today.

Some families not all like in any other culture has rape and incest, but on a larger scale what happened with the forced assimilation and abuse in the residential schools we are living with that today as a society. Lots need to be done to move past that. What are the plans and where are the programs?

#13. Posted by Bigger picture on February 08, 2018

#11 you need to look at the bigger picture, blaming the victims does nothing.

#14. Posted by A Teacher on February 09, 2018

This is the parents job. School can support this, but it is the parents job. It is not up to school to raise children.

#15. Posted by Jan on February 09, 2018

Who is saying it’s up to schools? I don’t see that. Of course it’s the parents job 🙄

#16. Posted by VETERAN, OTTAWA. on February 11, 2018

I am not judging any persons experiences.
The sad reality is there are things in life you just have to let go off.
A friend of mine wanted to burn a school for personal reasons of
Glad to say we talked her out of it.
She would have got about 10 years in jail, and is now
glad she did not do it.

#17. Posted by Reality Elder, Cambridge Bay on February 11, 2018

# 9, # 11,
I understand your comments, and agree with them.
There are too many pathetic people, who treat the old Inuit way like a
happy smiling Disney land.

#18. Posted by Lynn on February 15, 2018

Teen girls and boys need to be taught what consent really is.
There has been a lot of problems especially with teenagers not understating the legal definition of consent.

#19. Posted by Uvanga on February 27, 2018

We have serious issues to deal with in Nunavut. I can count at least 7 families that who have experienced incest in our small town. I know 2 woman impregnated by their fathers. At least 5 people born by rape. Countless child molester and I for one survived 5 traumatic experience and all my school friends had similar experiences from molesters. Sadly, it felt normal because it was so common. I didn’t realize until later on in life that it was bad although we were silent about it to adults but as children we knew and talked about it. We need self confidence, good self esteem and coping skills to get over the horrors of our past.. non but one of these violators went to residential school, they were uncles, fathers, brothers and friends that had never left town. I for one couldn’t wait to leave for a better life but unfortunately my nieces had to suffer this horror as well. Communities need major healing and hope. Truly, our Inuit are suffering and need rescuing from this silent beast

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