Ending the abuse: GN mounts anti-violence campaign

Three-poster series promoting prevention of violence against women unveiled in Iqaluit



Ed Picco, the minister of health and social services, remembers a time when he was working as an adult educator and a woman once came to his class with two black eyes.

She said she fell while loading a qamutik. Picco said he knew that wasn’t true — she was pushed.

“It’s unacceptable for a woman to walk around with a black eye,” Picco said, saying its even more unacceptable for those around her to pretend they don’t notice.

Picco was speaking at the unveiling of a new three-poster series promoting the prevention of violence against women and children. Set against the backdrop of four Christmas trees decorated by school children in the lobby of the legislative assembly building in Iqaluit, the posters are hard-hitting.

One shows a child with bed covers pulled up to his chin and a look of terror on his face, while in the background the shape of an adult can be seen closing the bedroom door.

Another shows a distraught woman speaking to two RCMP officers and a third, perhaps the most powerful, presents a close-up image of a woman with a sore-looking black eye staring back at the viewer while she hugs her son close to her chest.

“Violence is not our way — break the silence,” states one poster. “Abuse is wrong in any language. Love your family,” reads another. The posters are a product of a collaboration between the territorial departments of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth; Health and Social Services; Education; and Justice.

Picco stressed that family violence is an issue in the territory every day and that the only way for these posters to be successful is if people work in unison at the local level.

“Today in Iqaluit you can go to the women’s shelter and see bruises, black eyes, broken jaws,” and people who need to be medevaced to the South, Picco said. “Let’s not ignore it.”

His own department, he admitted, needs to do more to help the fight against family violence. Since 1989, he said, prevention of family violence programming has only received a 10 per cent increase in funding — and that came last year.

Jack Anawak, Culture, Language, Elders and Youth minister, is also the minister responsible for the Nunavut Status of Women Council. He said that far too often we hear about victims of abuse and quietly sit back and think it should not be happening.

“Abusers need to be educated and the abused need to be encouraged,” Anawak said. “We must show our children that there are those of us who condemn spousal abuse publicly and forcefully. Without the example of positive action, the cycle of violence will not be broken.”

Madeleine Qumuatuq, the president of the Nunavut Status of Women Council, said the issue of family violence is one her organization is always working on. It’s always in the forefront, she said, because it wounds families, children and overall community development.

The posters will be distributed to every community in Nunavut for the beginning of 2003, and will have local contact information printed on the bottom.

“This is Christmas coming up,” Picco reminded the assembled crowd. “The intake at women’s shelters is one of the highest of the year around the territory.”

“Christmas can be a happy time,” he said. “It can also be a very sad time for some,” and let’s not forget that.

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