Kuujjuaraapik women struggle to set up shelter

A committee working on the creation of battered women’s shelter in Kuujjuaraapik still needs donations of equipment and money.


KUUJJUARAAPIK — As long as women in her community continue to endure violence at home, Danielle M. Sioui won’t stop working to set up a shelter for battered women in Kuujjuaraapik.

For more than a year, Sioui, a member of the Wendat First Nation, together with a committee of Cree and Inuit women, have been working towards the day when the Tunngavik Women’s Shelter will be able to offer healing, hospitality and harmony to women in distress.

“It’s a very important project to give shelter to battered women,” said Sioui. “By doing so, we will be able to help diminish the high, devastating and traumatic level of violence in the community and which, most of the time, is caused by drug or alcohol abuse.”

Sioui said the shelter plans to help women regain their strength and self-esteem though group therapy, workshops and discussions. It will also try to involve women in activities such as crafts production or organizing fundraising events.

The shelter’s future home is a six-bedroom wing of a former army barracks. These premises have already been partially renovated, thanks to a $25,000 donation from Makivik Corporation.

Last week Sioui received word that the Kativik Regional Government’s employment and training department will assist in training the shelter’s future employees. The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services has also budgeted $100,000 for the shelter’s ongoing operation.

“But we still have shortfall,” Sioui said.

The shelter’s organizers were counting on donations of equipment and money to complete the renovations, outfit the shelter and cover the additional costs related to staff training and salaries.

But some local groups who had promised help haven’t come through with donations.

And a fund-raising campaign directed towards business interests in Nunavik only netted financial gifts from two companies, Bell Canada and Distribution Nordique.

As a result, the shelter still lacks office equipment, lamps, shelves, televisions, linen, an alarm system, books, toys and food.

“Anyone who wants to help can call me at 819-929-3640,” said Sioui.

Two other similar shelters for battered women are already in operation in Nunavik, in Salluit and in Kuujjuaq. Kuujjuaraapik, says Sioui, badly needs a shelter.

The community and its neighbouring Cree village of Whapmagoostui have been rocked by violence following the opening of a second bar in the community a year and a half ago.

Since then, two individuals have died, one man in a violent dispute, the other, a woman, of exposure.

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