Pauktuutit calls on feds to deliver more support for Inuit women fleeing violence
‘This funding will save lives,’ says president Rebecca Kudloo
The head of a national organization representing Inuit women says she’s looking to Monday’s federal budget to deliver increased support for Inuit women fleeing violence.
That support would ideally include money for the construction and operation of Inuit-specific shelters and transition housing for women and children who need respite from abusive situations at home, according to Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.
“New funding … will demonstrate some tangible government action on the June 2019 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry report,” she said.
“This funding will save lives.”
Statistics Canada estimates that Inuit women are 14 times more likely to experience violence than other women in Canada.
There are currently 15 women’s shelters serving the Inuit Nunangat’s 51 communities. As a result, Inuit women and children fleeing violence must often leave their communities and family supports to seek safety.
Earlier this year, the federal government allocated money to building and operating five new Inuit-specific women’s shelters — one in each of the four regions of Inuit Nunangat plus one in Ottawa.
Communities can apply for that funding to build a shelter, but the application process is only set to launch next month. Kudloo said she’d like to see construction of those shelters start in 2022.
In addition to increased money for shelters, Pauktuutit has also asked for money for transitional housing, to offer Inuit women longer-term accommodation until they can find permanent places to live.
Iqaluit is the only Inuit community that offers any kind of transitional housing, but Kudloo said she would like to see it in every region of Inuit Nunangat.
“Transition housing is critical because it will never be safe for some women and children in a shelter to return and be safe in the home or community they have fled,” she said in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is set to deliver the government’s first budget since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday afternoon.
Pauktuutit has also called for money to address the high cost of living in Inuit communities, specifically food insecurity and the loss of income the organization says Inuit women have seen due to COVID-19.
Kudloo said she hopes to see greater investments in internet connectivity, education and training for women and youth so more Inuit can secure stable and well-paying jobs.