Family violence prevention campaign launches in Nunavut

“Let’s stand together to break the silence on family violence and abuse in Nunavut,” says campaign by Pauktuutit and Law Society of Nunavut

Iqaluit throat singers Olivia Chislett and Kristen Kownak perform at the launch of a campaign against family violence at the Astro Theatre in Iqaluit on Monday, International Women’s Day. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and the Law Society of Nunavut launched a campaign on Monday to help address family violence in the territory.

The event, which happened on International Women’s Day at the Astro Theatre in Iqaluit, began with a qulliq-lighting ceremony and was attended by approximately 50 people who took a moment to honour those lost to family violence in Nunavut.

“Each of us can identify someone in our lives who has been affected by family violence,” said John Maclean, president of the Nunavut Law Society.

“Maybe it’s a member of our family, maybe it’s someone we love … maybe it’s a colleague who comes to work with a bruise they didn’t have on Friday night.”

He said the law society’s goal is to start conversations among Nunavummiut about what family violence is, how to recognize it, and what can be done to address it.

The campaign includes educational podcasts, a Facebook page, and printed educational resources like posters and brochures sent to communities across the territory.

Campaign materials call on residents to “stand together to break the silence on family violence and abuse in Nunavut.”

Community visits will also be done and a new toll-free helpline has been made available by the Department of Justice.

“It is not easy,” said Elisapee Sheutiapik, the minister of family services and former president of Pauktuutit. “As long as I’ve worked on this … I still lost another person two years ago and I hope I will have more tools to save another life this time.”

Before creating the campaign, in 2019 the law society and Pauktuutit interviewed 38 Inuit women in seven Nunavut communities about family violence, to find out what kind of support they needed and what kind of legal barriers they face.

They found the women often turned to their families, community and elders first for help.

Some interviewees also said they felt the legal system may help abusers more than them and expressed concerns about RCMP response times when calling about abuse.

The organizations found that Nunavut needs more emergency shelters, both for shelters for women and children fleeing violence and for abusers ordered to leave the home. They also found a need for culturally sensitive training for social workers to help support Inuit families.

Chief Superintendent Amanda Jones, the first female commanding officer of the RCMP’s Nunavut division, spoke at the event and stated her support for the campaign.

A free public event will be held at the theatre Tuesday at 6 p.m., where the films Wounded Healers by Inuk Romani Makkik and Tony: Back From the Brink will be screened.

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Get Real on

    38 women interviewed! In 7 communities! Out of the hundreds of women who suffer and continue to suffer. Don’t break a sweat, Pauktuutit, whatever you do.
    Nothing will change until the men (and to a far lesser extent the women) who assault take ownership of their actions. As long as women are treated as second class and family and friends look the other way instead of intervening, until violence is no longer socially acceptable, Nunavut will continue to lead the country in domestic assaults. We need to call out the violent members of our communities, instead of tiptoeing around their delicate feelings.

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  2. Posted by Boom on

    Call the absusers out. When you see a couple and the girl has a black eye, ask him if he did it. Look him in the eyes. Shame alone will not fix this, because abusers are usually broken too and need help. But pretending they are good guys and acting like everything is normal, laughing at the guy’s jokes, etc when the partner is clearly beaten to a pulp makes it seem like we ‘re cool with him beating the crap out of her (or the other way around).

  3. Posted by Jealousy and ownership laced with denial on

    The north has too much jealousy in relationships. Insecurity seems to be breed into people as they grow. When a relationship develops, it’s unhealthy and partners think they own the other person. How many of us, at work, witness theses jealousy phone calls to many coworkers we are with, like 20 or 30 times a day , the phone rings for Johnny or Mary, the partner needs to know what they are doing. Consent calling for no other reason , other than to check up on the partner. It’s very unhealthy. This insecurity and jealousy leads to abuse, emotional, physical. Then it’s denied that anything ever happened. Everything is ok, until next week, until we drink alcohol again. This is an illness that needs addressing at the family and community level. Maybe acknowledging that the root of the problem lies in the upbringing of children, as children witness it from parents , who continue the cycle. Yes, acknowledging the root, should indicate to the programs from governments to put the effort where it belongs, in the family dynamics and in health of the community. If the government acknowledges also, that it’s in denial also, as this issue also fuels many suicides, from the insecurity of people. People are fragile, and even saying something to someone so fragile, no telling what unhealthy behaviour will come from it, yes suicide comes from that too. It’s total unhealthy living.

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