Madeleine Redfern is the president of the new Nunavut Inuit Women’s Association, recently launched under the umbrella of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. (File photo)

New Inuit-specific women’s organization forms in Nunavut

“We can empower Inuit women living in Nunavut”

By Sarah Rogers

Nunavut has a new women’s organization.

The Nunavut Inuit Women’s Association, or NIWA, recently formed under its parent organization, the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

The NIWA is headed by its new president, Madeleine Redfern, Iqaluit’s mayor.

Though women in Nunavut continue to be represented territorially through the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women, which is a government-appointed advisory council, and nationally with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, NIWA is the first Indigenous-specific organization for Inuit women in Nunavut

NIWA says its mandate will be to promote Inuit women in leadership roles, address challenges such as equity, facilitate economic empowerment, and create programs to address the intergenerational impacts of colonization.

This is the first time the Native Women’s Association of Canada has counted member organizations in every province and territory. The national organization provided NIWA with its start-up and core funding.

“With NIWA, we can empower Inuit women living in Nunavut,” said Lynne Groulx, CEO of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, in a news release.

Along with Redfern, NIWA’s board members include Pamela Gross, Ningeolaa Kiliktee, Mary Kiliktee, Meeka Kigutak, Rachel Seepola Michael, Inuujaq Leslie Fredlund and Jasmine Redfern.

All Inuit women living in, or who are from, Nunavut are considered members of the new organization, but its bylaws allow for anyone to request to be removed from its membership.

NIWA said it intends to work closely with other women’s associations like Qulliit and Pauktuutit.

But NIWA will remain independent and non-governmental as an organization.

Qulliit was established by the Government of Nunavut as an advisory body on programs, policies and legislation that affect women. Its members are appointed by the cabinet minister responsible for Qulliit.

NIWA says its goal is to “regenerate an understanding of Inuit women’s leadership roles within our communities” and to ensure those positions are filled with knowledgeable, skilled Inuit women.

NIWA’s inaugural board will meet within the next six months to set out its priorities for the year and identify a date for its first annual general meeting.

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(25) Comments:

  1. Posted by #Woke Folk on

    Western feminism has finally seeped into Nunavut.

  2. Posted by I guess we will just need to wait… on

    As an Inuk woman I was never informed or consulted on what I would want an Association that represents me to do. Although I have the choice on whether I want to have my name removed from it’s membership, something I don’t know whether I wish to have done right now, it would have been nice to have known 1) that this Association was going to be created to help me; 2) what those who wanted to create it wanted it to do, 3) why those who wanted to create it felt it needed to be created; 4) why I should be a member. Also, at this point only Inuit women from Iqaluit/Baffin are on the Board of Directors and it is very hard to agree that Inuit Women from Nunavut feel represented. There will need to be better representation for the other Regions. I guess we will need to wait and see.

    • Posted by CK on

      I agree with all your points but wanted it to be known that Pam is from the Kitikmeot and Inuujaq is from the Kivalliq.

  3. Posted by Inuit Women in Leadership Roles on

    I really don’t see why it’s necessary to have a whole organization to “promote Inuit women in leadership roles”.

    In Iqaluit, you have Redfern as Mayor, Sheutiapik as Cabinet Minister, and Angnakak as MLA.
    Kugluktuk has Kamingoak as MLA.
    Pang has Nakashuk as MLA.
    Rankin has Towtongie as MLA.
    In Cambridge, you have Ehaloak as MLA and Gross as Mayor.
    Deputy Ministers include (not all Inuit, but women) Ruby Brown, Louise Flaherty, Constance Hourie, Sheila Kolola, Yvonne Niego, and Kathy Okpik.
    ADMs are split around 50-50.
    A GN Directory search of the title “Director” shows really a really solid representation of women.
    The President of NTI is Aluki Kotierk.
    Udlu Hanson recently stepped down as a DM to be a VP for Baffinland.
    The unemployment rate for males in Nunavut is 24.5%, for females it is 18.2%.
    Women are only 45% of those without income, men are 55% of those without income.
    Of those with income, women are only 40.5% of those that make under $10k/year, men are 59.5%.
    Of those with income, women are a smaller percentage of those that make under $40k/year than men.
    Women hold 57% of the Bachelor degree or above levels of education.
    Men make up 68% of those that start work between the hours of 5am and 8pm (81% of those that start between 5am and 6am), whereas women make up 57% of those that start work between 8am to 9am.
    Women are equal (49%) in the territory in representation of the NAICS category of “Professional, scientific and technical services”.
    So overall, I think the fact that women’s representation in the NOC classification of “Management Occupation” of 41.4% is nothing to fret over.

    • Posted by Dogma > Data? on

      Somehow this comment was deemed unprintable by the gatekeepers at Nunatsiaq News, that’s too bad as it is a perfectly valid observation. Let me try again, with a little more detail.

      Western feminism is an ideological construct premised on the assumption that women are “always oppressed”. As a critical theory this can neither be questioned, nor can it ever be resolved. If it were, then feminism’s moral currency would be spent (another way to frame this, it would become a victim of it’s own success). To put it another way, like any critical theory its relevance is dependent on finding and battling sources of oppression; real or imagined. The same can be said for post colonial theories and any number of the offshoots of postmodern theory.

        • Posted by Logical fallacy on

          It’s sad to see what passes for a “response” in social media based discourse. Weak personal attacks are all you can expect from ‘grievance study majors’ as they’ve never been forced to work out there points through the rigours of logic, epistemology, ontology and other forms of rhetoric and philosophy. So instead of a well thought out discussion, an impotent little stink bomb is all you get.

      • Posted by Simone de Beauvoir on

        I’m not surprised you’re having trouble getting past the gatekeepers at NN. Your ill-educated comment appears to have been copied and pasted from some pathetic incel discussion board on 4chan set up for misogynistic neckbeard losers.

        But hey, it’s a long weekend and I’ve got some time on my hands, so let me set you straight.

        The set of ideas that we lump together as “Western feminism” may occasionally overlap with critical theory but it is otherwise unrelated.

        1. “Critical theory” refers to a broad set Marxist and neo-Marxist ideas developed by members of the Frankfurt School to provide critical analysis of Western culture. Many of them, like Herbert Marcuse, were influenced by Freud. It dates to about the mid-1930s and has noting to do with post-modernism, which is completely different.

        2. Western feminism is much older. A Vindication of the Rights of a Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft dates to about 1790. The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State by Friedrich Engels dates to about 1880. The suffragette movement dates to about 1900. When Simone de Beauvoir published The Second Sex in 1950, critical theory existed by then, but de Beauvoir’s primary influence was phenomenology, not German neo-Marxism. Simone de Beauvoir’s gaze theory, which everyone still refers to, is rooted in phenomenology, not critical theory.

        3. By the way, suffragettes and other feminists activists did not have to go out “finding” sources of oppression. The oppression of women was and is real. Until recently, women in most parts of the world did not have the right to vote, were treated as chattels and were effectively barred from most professions. Rape was treated as a property crime, not a crime of violence. In Canada, this attitude towards rape did not change until the 1980s.

        4. In Nunavut, women and girls are still the primary victims of violence in their homes and communities and are beaten and raped at alarming rates by the males in their families and communities. Daycare services are rare and expensive. Nunavut women are also badly under represented in elected positions and are still treated as baby-makers and sealskin scrapers instead of potential leaders.

        5. Conclusion: Your pitiful 4chan incel theory is bunkum and drivel.

        • Posted by Dogma > Data? on

          To Simone de Beauvoir: the fact that these personal insults were so casually published (misogynistic neckbeard losers…pitiful 4chan incel theory…) makes me want to ask, who really gets to say what, and why? Having the power to control the narrative does not, in the end, vindicate the narrative. Obviously, my comment is not a popular one, but it is at least a reasoned one free of insults and personal attack. Let me address each of your points.

          1. This argument is a strawman. Though, I would disagree that post modernism has no connection to critical theory; the latter, as a critique of modernism, clearly anticipated the former (note the genealogical connections shared by both in Nietzsche). My comment drew attention to the similitude here, nothing else (note, the word ‘like’ is a simile; read again if you need to).

          2. Historically, it’s true that critical theory is not the progenitor of feminism. But that has little to do with this. Consider the nexus between its current iteration—third wave feminism, and critical theory and postmodernism. Note how the third wave has turned its aim back on the first and second waves you’ve referenced. This supports my thesis.

          3. You say “Until recently, women in most parts of the world…”. Okay, so what about ‘recently’ then? These historical references are interesting and true, but not relevant to my critique.

          4. You say that “in Nunavut, women and girls are still the primary victims of violence in their homes and communities”. They are certainly victimized. But at higher rates than men? I’d be happy to consider your evidence should you decide to produce it.

          5. Your conclusion is a just plain sad statement on the tone of discourse on social media, and very unbecoming of an obvious thinker like yourself.

  4. Posted by So who will speak for Inuit women? on

    So the national Inuit women’s group has a Inuk woman in charge. This new group who claim to represent Inuit from Nunavut will have a First Nations women’s association to speak for them nationally. The irony of this new group will have non Inuit represent them and they claim to want Inuit in charge.

  5. Posted by Alanna on

    In the other release it mentions Nunavut was the only region without its own Indigenous women’s association.
    I’m very happy with this announcement. I haven’t seen anything of help to women out of Qulliit or Pauktuutit in years. Neither do much of anything to represent Inuit women’s issues.

  6. Posted by Arnaq on

    Who will speak for Inuit women?

    Pauktuutit isn’t accountable to anyone. It’s well known the executive director handpicks the puppet board. They have no accountability to other Inuit orgs and all they care about is bringing in money.

    Just try to go to one of their AGMs. It’s very tightly controlled because they don’t actually want Inuit input or direction.

  7. Posted by Oracle on

    Thank goodness.
    Qulliit Status of Women never knew what to do with the power they had.
    With Nunavut leading in intimate partner violence, all they could do was hold annual photo displays at the Museum.
    For Dec. 6th, they never did anything.
    For March 8, they were asleep too.
    No guts. They should be disbanded, since they have no strength to represent women.

  8. Posted by Inuk man on

    I just hope we will not leave behind men, I don’t have a problem with women working to improve themselves and work towards better things but when some have to put down men to move ahead I don’t think that is the right approach.
    We have a lot of women in high positions, in influential position and it’s based on their experience education and willingness to accept the challenges.
    But when we have the highest suicide rates and men leading those statistics and it only seems to be getting worse we can’t forget men too.
    There are a lot of great ladies out there and they really do make a difference but at the same time there are some very crazy ones and some of them get into influential positions. Same goes with men, I am asking that this organization be careful not to put men down to bring your cause up, this will only bring divide and mistrust. Working together instead of against each other. I also think we need a men’s organization to deal with all the social issues that plague Inuit men today, we need to deal with the issues also to be better men and move forward in making this society a better place.

  9. Posted by Where’s the women’s Minister for Nunavut on

    The past President of the Qulliit Status of Women is Sheutiapik and would be nice to see we’re she stands on this matter. Will she disband the now duplicate body? Does she even know what is happening?

    • Posted by Doubtful on

      She’s also a past president of Pauktuutit. Nothing came out of Pauktuutit or QSW under her leadership. She’s a rubber stamper without an original thought of her own. Well, she’s happy to dump on other female leaders but that’s about it.

  10. Posted by Tommy on

    Nunavut used to be beautiful and prestine. The clear waters streaming to the blue ocean. Endless blue skies.

    Families together. Calm. Peace. Harmony.

    And today…..

    • Posted by Romanticized history on

      Was it really all those things, Tommy?

      • Posted by Remembering history on

        Yes it was, today we are a shell of ourselves with many social issues trying to move past the injustice that was, residential schools and so on. Education today mostly in English, direct and indirect racism, a system in place not for Inuit.
        But yet we move inward and try our best.

  11. Posted by david on

    how many organizations do the Inuit need? it seems like there are a million of them and not a single one made a difference or an accomplishment to mention.

    • Posted by John on

      Then you haven’t been involved much if you think Inuit organization have not made a difference or accomplished much, there has been many accomplishments, Inuit organizations do a lot for their size and unlike the Nunavut government or the federal government the Inuit organizations have done more then these huge governments with much more funding and capacity.
      You need to get more involved with Inuit organizations to see this.

      • Posted by masha on

        John, did you say inuit organizations accomplished more than the GN and the feds? Ok I rest my case, I suppose you see flying pigs too!

        • Posted by John on

          Yes macha, for the size and what the Inuit organizations work with they accomplished more then what the GN and their huge budget gets done. What you think the GN and Feds for their size get things done with the capacity and budget they carry better then the Inuit organizations? You must be seeing flying pigs. I rest my case.

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