Iqaluit ranks near the top for violence against women
Fresh data analysis sheds light on violence in Nunavut's capital
Iqaluit recorded the second-highest average in Canada for police-reported acts of violence against women between 2008 and 2015, according to national data from Statistics Canada that was compiled and released by journalism outlet Discourse Media in January.
That’s second only to the Treaty 3 communities of northwestern Ontario and southeastern Manitoba, which encompasses over two-dozen indigenous communities and about 20,000 people.
The Treaty 3 area was lumped together as one jurisdiction because a single police force provides the majority of enforcement within the 142,2290-square-kilometre territory.
That leaves Iqaluit as the most violent single community for women identified in the report over the reported period, with rates more than eight times higher than the national average in 2015 alone.
“Publishing this data is a starting point for conversations about violence against women in Canadian communities,” wrote Discourse Media journalist, Emma Jones, who wrote the dataset’s accompanying article.
The president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, Rebecca Kudloo, said the data is “deeply disturbing,” when contacted by Nunatsiaq News, Jan. 24.
“We need more community-driven support services for those fleeing violence, such as women’s shelters, mental health providers and transitional housing,” Kudloo said.
Pauktuutit said it’s continuing to call for the federal government to increase spending on women’s shelters for Inuit communities.
“We know many of the factors that contribute to violence in Inuit communities, such as unresolved trauma from residential schools, sexual abuse and the transient workforce that is prominent in Iqaluit,” Kudloo said.
Iqaluit was the only community in the survey within Canada’s three territories to rank within the top 10 most violent jurisdictions for violence against women between the years of the dataset.
Other communities appearing on the list include: LaRonge, Saskatchewan; North Battleford, Saskatchewan; St. Paul, Alberta; and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland.
According to the Nunavut RCMP “V” Division, police-reported domestic acts of violence against women in Iqaluit have declined slightly since 2015, shrinking from 101 files in 2016 to 94 files last year.
“It is very unfortunate that a community in Nunavut has made it on such a list, let alone near the top of the list of police-reported violence against women,” RCMP media liaison Cpl. Henry Coman said in a statement, Jan. 29.
“It is important for victims of violence to come forward to report violence, and that this is more than just a police issue, it requires a community approach to support victims and address the root causes of gender-based violence.”
Coman said the RCMP tries preventative measures within its power to limit gender-based violence, by enforcing orders under the Family Abuse Intervention Act, as well as imposing peace bonds or restraining orders on offenders.
The RCMP also assists women and children experiencing violence by transporting them to shelters, and also advising them on victim services, Coman said.
Mental health workers may also be contacted to intervene.
“Not all women want to go to the shelters and choose instead to go to a family member’s home or to a friend’s, in which case, the RCMP suggests making sure that they are not alone, lock their windows and doors, and have quick access to a phone should they need to call the police,” Coman said.
Despite their consistently high averages, the overall rates of police-reported violence against women in Iqaluit have trended downwards in recent years, according to the Statistics Canada dataset.
In 2008, the violence rate against women in Iqaluit was over 12 times the national average, per 100,000 people.
Iqaluit had the highest national rates of violence against women in each year from 2008 to 2010, according to the Statistics Canada data.