Nunavut plans to build four new shelters for women fleeing violence

Gjoa Haven, Pond Inlet, Baker Lake and Pangnirtung would see facilities built in 2022-23

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone is praising the Government of Nunavut’s move to put more money into women’s shelters. (File photo)

By Jane George

Nunavut plans to increase its spending on family violence services and emergency support for 2020-21, in a move widely praised by regular MLAs.

“I appreciate the efforts made to restructure and strengthen service delivery to increase focus on Nunavut’s most vulnerable,” Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone said on March 5 in his member’s statement to the territorial legislature.

Two years ago Lightstone tabled a report in the legislature from the Nunavut Coroner’s Office and the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee, with recommendations aimed to prevent domestic violence.

“On numerous occasions, members have called on our government to increase support to address domestic and family violence, to do more for women fleeing from violence, and children that have been subjected to abuse. I cannot express how encouraging it is to see substantial progress,” Lightstone said.

“I would like to thank this government on behalf of all of the most vulnerable Nunavummiut for taking such a significant step to ensuring their well-being; namely, the homeless, the victims of domestic violence, and the children who need a safe space.”

The GN plans to spend more than $2 million on new and existing homeless shelters and will promote the establishment of more safe houses and shelter services across Nunavut, according to discussions on March 4 during the committee of the whole’s look at the budget for the Department of Family Services.

Family Services Minister Elisapee Sheutiapik (centre) sits before the Nunavut legislature’s committee of the whole on March 4 where she discussed her department’s plans for 2020-21. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

The new money includes:

  • $1,040,000 to plan for and build four new shelters for women in Gjoa Haven, Pond Inlet, Baker Lake and Pangnirtung. These should be built during 2022-23.
  • $645,000 for five new positions to implement the Community Coordination for Women’s Safety Initiative, a program that assists communities in improving their response to violence against women, or developing new ways of responding.
  • $300,000 to implement a program for temporary overnight safe spaces for youth who find themselves in crisis.

An additional $50,000 is earmarked for relocation, said Family Services Minister Elisapee Sheutiapik in the committee meeting.

“If a family or a woman needs to leave one community to another, we’ve actually put in travel dollars for that,” Sheutiapik said.

The department also wants to build a network of safe homes in communities, where someone fleeing violence can stay and be protected.

Social services offices plan to host town hall meetings for discussions about safe homes as part of the department’s safe house recruitment campaign, Sheutiapik said.

Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakasuk said in the committee meeting how the “issue of family violence continues to be a major concern across the territory. ”

“In the past, members urged the minister of family services to work with her staff to explore options to increase the number of safe houses and shelters in our communities,” Nakasuk said.

David Qamaniq, MLA for Tununiq, noted how the Mary River iron mine near Pond Inlet has brought an increase in employment “and there are problems associated with this,” he said. “Especially with communities that are close to the mine.”

The discussions about the expansion of shelters in Nunavut follows a recent commitment from Northern Affairs Minister Denis Vandal, who told Pauktuutit Inuit women’s association that providing shelter funding will be a federal government priority.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Concerned Citizen on

    Good to see some progress in such a high priority area. Good work on all involved including MP Lightstone, Minister Sheutiapik and Pauktuutit. Years and years of hard work and lobbying are finally starting to bear fruit. Congrats all around.

  2. Posted by Sade on

    Hurrah !
    Women are “owned” by men and under the Charter of rights and Freedoms passed by Parliament, she is EQUAL to him.
    Good reasoning; women are beaten regularly; men think they can do that and they are just Wrong !

  3. Posted by Homeless woman in Nunavut on

    How about building homeless shelters for women and children. I am not an abused woman but can’t access the shelter in Cambridge Bay because it is for abused women but I’m homeless, I almost feel like I should get into an abusive relationship just so I can use the shelter…

  4. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    I am happy that abused women and their children will have a safe place to go but I have always thought this was a backwards way to deal with the issue of domestic violence. How about removing the abuser instead? Women always get the shitty end of the stick in these situations. Have to leave the house and haul their kids of to some shelter or temporary lodging and the abuser gets to stay in the house. Inevitably the woman ends up going back to the abuser because the shelters are generally temporary. They already have shelters for abusive men-jail-let them stay there and leave the women and children alone.

    • Posted by parent on

      FAIA – Family abuse intervention act – allows the victim to apply for an emergency protection order for 90days up to 2 years. Once the order is put in place, the RCMP remove the abuser from the house and allow the abuser to get their possessions. They are then on condition to not attend the resident, contact the victim ect…….
      Maybe the GN needs to do an education session about this so that everyone knows its available.

  5. Posted by Raven on

    Thank you to Minister Sheatiapik for results. All four regions of Nunavut, unprecedented! Thank you to Member Arreak Lightstone for the opportunity to applaud Minister Sheatiapik’s good work.

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