Inuit women’s organization calls meeting with RCMP “constructive”

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada met with Commissioner Brenda Lucki

Rebecca Kudloo, left, and the rest of the Pauktuutit board held a teleconference with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on July 10 to discuss police practices in Inuit communities and the importance of keeping Inuit women and children safe. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

Canada’s national Inuit women’s organization says a meeting held earlier this month with the commissioner of the RCMP was “constructive.”

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada held a teleconference with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki July 10 to “discuss police practices as they relate to Inuit women,” the organization said in a news release.

In January, Pauktuutit released a report titled, Addressing Gendered Violence Against Inuit Women: A review of police policies and practices in Inuit Nunangat. The report made 15 recommendations to the RCMP and called for a “fundamental shift” in northern policing to address the severity of violence against Inuit women.

Gerri Sharpe, vice-president of Pauktuutit, said the organization had requested a meeting with Lucki after the report was released.

“I feel confident that there is going to be communication about what things will look like and greater consultation before any action plans are put forward, especially for Nunavut,” Sharpe told Nunatsiaq News.

The possibility of creating a memorandum of understanding between the RCMP and Pauktuutit was also discussed at the meeting, Sharpe said.

“The RCMP and Pauktuutit both want to see the recruitment of more Inuit as police officers and employees, and embed important cultural perceptions training as mandatory learning for all our members who work in Inuit Nunangat communities,” Lucki said in the release.

Lucki was criticized earlier this year after an interview with CBC News where she dodged a question about systemic racism in the RCMP. Lucki later told the Globe and Mail that, “if systemic racism is meaning that racism is entrenched in our policies and procedures, I would say that we don’t have systemic racism.”

But in a statement issued June 12, Lucki said she believes systemic racism exists in the RCMP.

“I did acknowledge that we, like others, have racism in our organization, but I did not say definitively that systemic racism exists in the RCMP. I should have,” Lucki’s statement said.

As for the potential MOU, Sharpe said there is no set timeline on when it will be completed, but Lucki did agree to meet with Pauktuutit four times a year.

“Overall, I came out of the meeting feeling that Commissioner Lucki and I share a common goal of wanting to ensure the safety and security of Inuit women and children. We have now committed to speaking regularly and I look forward to continuing to work with her to achieve these critical safety and justice reforms which will have a significant impact on Inuit women and children. It is a step in the right direction towards reconciliation,” Rebecca Kudloo, Pauktuutit president, said in the release.

“This is a really good step because they are looking and wanting to move forward in a good way,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe said Pauktuutit also raised the need for Inuktut-speaking employees at RCMP detachments and for officers to have a greater understanding of Inuit values.

“Inuit look at a community holistically. What happens in one part affects the entire community and that’s not how southern detachments would do things. The need for community interaction isn’t as high as it would be in the North,” Sharpe said.

“In order to service a community, you need to know the community. And in order to know the community, you have to know the people.”

The report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found that gendered and racialized violence is “rooted in systemic factors woven into the fabric of Canadian society.”

Women in Nunavut are victims of crime at a rate 13 times higher than women in the rest of Canada. And the risk of a woman being sexually assaulted is 12 times higher than the provincial/territorial average.

In 2016, Nunavut had the highest rate of female victims of police-reported violence in the country.

Kudloo told Nunatsiaq News last month it’s “critical” that a national action plan to support Indigenous women at risk of violence is delivered this year. That came after the federal government announced its plan in response to the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls would be delayed.

The organization has also had “preliminary communication” with the Government of Nunavut “with the goal of ensuring that the experiences and recommendations of Inuit women are reflected in policing policies and procedures to increase the safety of women and children,” the release said.

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