Nunavut reveals draft family violence strategy

“Priority actions” heavy on public awareness, slim on commitments


The Government of Nunavut, through its Iliagiitsiarniq draft family violence strategy, wants Nunavummiut to reject violence.

Members of the legislature are hoping the new strategy will educate people about the laws, policies and supports which are in place for protection, help, and rehabilitation.

But the draft version of the family violence strategy, tabled in the Nunavut legislature March 19 by health and social services minister Keith Peterson, is short on details on one of Nunavut’s most terrible problems.

Although it does call for the inclusion of “exposure to family violence” in the list of circumstances under which a child is deemed to be in need of protection and the hiring of a “Family Violence Prevention Coordinator,” the strategy is short on specific commitments and time lines.

The nine-page document states that, “the Government of Nunavut strives to ensure that we work together to deliver consistent and effective responses for families at risk of family violence,” but it does not specify which GN departments would be responsible for which actions.

The strategy lists “priority actions” around five different areas: raising public awareness, collaboration, services, policies and legislation, and monitoring and evaluating.

The strategy, announced in December 2010 and first promised by the end of 2011, has been in the works for years.

There were earlier versions but Peterson said he wasn’t satisfied with them.

The strategy outlines “target audiences” for each action, which include all Nunavummiut, GN departments, regional Inuit organizations, the RCMP, as well as social workers, mental health workers, hamlet staff, shelter staff, elders, teachers, community justice workers and legislators.

The draft strategy’s actions include:

• design and implementation of a mass media campaign;

• collaboration with the Department of Education on curriculum materials for different age groups;

• creation of an “inter-sectoral” working groups to co-ordinate family violence prevention efforts;

• support for the development of services for prevention, intervention and healing;

• encouragement to communities to use their “Healthy Children, Families and Communities” funding to give educational programming for Nunavummiut who’ve experienced violence;

• review of the GN’s family violence shelters policy;

• development of an evaluation plan for the strategy; and,

• a continued search for funding for an electronic baseline data system.

The strategy defines family violence as a complex issue linked to many other social issues, including historical trauma, the normalization of violence in communities, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty and overcrowding.

The rate of family violence in Nunavut remains far above the national average — about nearly nine times higher than in the rest of Canada.

Inuit women experience violence rates 14 times the national average.

In 2011, the Auditor General of Canada reported that children in Nunavut under age 18 are ten times more likely to experience sexual violations than their Canadian peers, the strategy said.

Nunavummiut also experience abuse of a more severe nature, are more likely to suffer injury as a result, and are more likely to fear for their lives.

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