No help for Kugluktuk shelter

Safe home for women languishes in bureaucratic limbo



Abused women in Kugluktuk will have to wait at least another year before it’s possible for their community’s crisis shelter to re-open.

That’s because the cash-strapped hamlet can’t secure the funding it needs to repair the building and re-open the shelter, which closed in June 2005, following the collapse of the women’s organization that operated the shelter.

Paul Waye, Kugluktuk’s senior administrative officer, said he’s distressed by the lack of concern shown by federal and territorial governments over the problem of domestic violence.

“It’s been very frustrating,” Waye said. “I’m quite appalled by it.”

Iqaluit is currently the only community in Nunavut with an emergency shelter for women. That leaves most of Nunavut’s abused women with nowhere to turn, other than friends or relatives.

Waye describes one recent incident where an abused woman in Kugluktuk fled her home to stay at a friend’s house. When her angry spouse showed up at the front door, she had to sneak out the back.

“They go from house to house,” Waye said. “There’s no safe place.”

Kugluktuk’s crisis shelter was considered a safe space, Waye said, with thick doors and a working telephone to call the police. When it was open, on-and-off over the past five or so years, the centre’s eight beds were often full.

But the building, which Waye describes as a double-wide trailer, needs serious work.

There’s no heating in the floor, so the centre’s water and sewer pipes often froze during the winter. It’s expected to cost $170,000 to jack the building up and install proper heating for the floor and pipes.

Waye said the hamlet applied for federal money to fix the building in February, through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s shelter enhancement program.

The CMHC doesn’t deal directly with municipalities and hamlets — instead, it works through territorial organizations: in this case, the Nunavut Housing Corporation.

Waye said these two organizations have spent the last several months tossing the file back and forth like a hot potato.

By now, it’s too late to order supplies on this year’s sealift. Waye said he hopes to get the matter sorted out by next year.

Then there’s the money needed to operate and maintain the shelter, which in the past came from the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Health and Social Services.

In July, Waye said he was told by HSS officials that about $70,000 was available to operate and maintain the shelter — about the same amount previously given.

But an assessment done by the hamlet says they need far more money than that — between $200,000 to $300,000 — to pay for three to four full-time employees, who would keep the building open and comfort women in distress.

“The Government of Nunavut either doesn’t have the money, or is refusing to free up the money… for us to provide these services in an effective and efficient way,” Waye said.

Meanwhile, the hamlet is struggling to provide basic services, such as trucked water and sewer services.

On a brighter note, Waye said Kugluktuk’s hamlet has managed to pay off its debts this year. Several years ago, the hamlet owed $1 million.

And company officials from the nearby Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories, which employs 20 to 30 people from the community, have said they’re interested in making inquiries on the hamlet’s behalf, Waye said.

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