Shelter funding will be a priority, northern affairs minister tells Pauktuutit

“If that’s your priority, we will work to get it done”

Pauktuutit President Rebecca Kudloo stands with Dan Vandal, Canada’s minister of northern affairs, on Feb. 25 after Vandal spoke at Pauktuutit’s annual general meeting. (Photo courtesy of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada)

By Kahlan Miron
Special to Nunatsiaq News

OTTAWA—The government of Canada says it will make it a priority to provide more money to build emergency shelters in Inuit communities for women and children fleeing violence.

That’s what Dan Vandal, Canada’s minister of Northern Affairs, told Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada’s annual general meeting in Ottawa last week.

“We will put it on our priority list to find funding for shelters,” said Vandal on Feb. 25. “If that’s your priority, we will work to get it done.”

Vandal was one of several federal ministers to address the gathering, which also saw appearances by Inuit leaders and the commanding officer of Nunavut’s RCMP division.

On the right, Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of infrastructure, attends Pauktuutit’s annual general meeting on Feb. 24. (Photo courtesy of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada)

On Feb. 24, Catherine McKenna, Canada’s federal infrastructure minister, spoke in favour of funding social infrastructure, like housing and shelters, although she also said she’d need more information.

Inuit Child First, Indigenous Services Canada

Pauktuutit President Rebecca Kudloo invited McKenna to visit northern communities this summer, so that McKenna can, as described on Pauktuutit’s Twitter account, “see the realities in the North through the eyes of Inuit women.”

When Vandal spoke the next day, he also said he’d insist on a gender-based analysis for Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework. That aligns with Pauktuutit’s calls for the experiences of Inuit women to inform the government’s decisions.

On the subject of shelters, Pauktuutit representatives raised concerns about how some federal funding is earmarked only for shelters built on reserves.

Vandal agreed that should change. But Marc Miller, minister of Indigenous services, had a different response.

He said that funding was intended only for First Nations, but he acknowledged that there was a need for more shelters in the North, and he said there were other ways to address that problem.

Inuit women experience rates of violence 14 times higher than the national average, and more than 70 per cent of communities across Inuit Nunangat lack safe shelter for women and children, according to Pauktuutit’s 2019 report “Study of Gender-based Violence and Shelter Service Needs across Inuit Nunangat.”

Gudie Hutchings, the parliamentary secretary to Maryam Monsef, minister for women and gender equality and rural economic development, was also present on Feb. 26 to hear Pauktuutit’s concerns and relay them to her colleagues.

Chief Superintendent Amanda Jones, commanding officer of the RCMP’s V Division in Nunavut, met with Pauktuutit on Feb. 25 in Ottawa at the organization’s annual general meeting. (Photo courtesy of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada)

Pauktuutit representatives put an emphasis on “co-development” throughout the week. The organization wants to have a say in development processes, working with government to address the issues they’ve raised.

“Co-development is new to us,” said Miller. “We want the consultation to be done properly.”

When co-development is off the table, Pauktuutit’s job can become difficult. For example, the government’s intention to release a national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls next June was cause for concern when announced. Pauktuutit had no part in that process and were now, as one board member described it, left to play catch-up.

Chief Superintendent Amanda Jones, commanding officer of the RCMP’s V Division in Nunavut, also met with Pauktuutit on Feb. 25, shortly after the release of Pauktuutit’s report “Addressing Gendered Violence Against Inuit Women.”

The report makes 15 recommendations on how to change policing in Inuit Nunangat, including gender-based violence training, gender-based policing protocols, Inuit civilian positions, and community engagement on subjects like gender-based violence and the criminal justice system.

Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq stands with Pauktuutit board members at the organization’s annual general meeting on Feb. 26. (Photo courtesy of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada)

Pauktuutit spoke with Jones about policing in the North and the potential establishment of a task group to implement Pauktuutit’s recommendations. Jones said she will respond in the next two weeks about this idea.

“There is no question that we want to work with Pauktuutit and our Nunavut communities to address the policing challenges in the North in order to better build relationships with Inuit, and particularly women and children. We will come back in two weeks with information regarding Pauktuutit’s request for a working group,” said Jones in a news release.

Inuit leaders in Ottawa also made appearances. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed spoke on Feb. 26 to give an update on ITK’s work.

And Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq listened to Pauktuutit representatives as they briefed her on their meetings with federal ministers. Afterwards, Qaqqaq said knowing the nuances of these conversations will help her efforts to push for change.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Nunavumiut on

    The communities don’t have clue what Pauktutiit are doing and yet they get so much funding for services that need to go to communities. Nobody hears from Pauktutit. The only appearance they do is when they are electing themselves. The consultation they plan to do will be done in Ottawa by non aboriginal staff.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Pauktutiit does all the back room engagement with federal ministers and officials so that communities like yours can get the money they need to build and run shelters and programs for women and children. Or did you think that the federal government makes those decisions in vacuum?

    • Posted by cynical inuk chick on

      Pauktuuitit is better known as national association of Inuit women-who-do-what-they-are-told-by-white-women

  2. Posted by Southern Folk (Ottawa) on

    I do appreciate what Pauktuutit is trying to do for Nunavut
    women, but having a Nunavut politician, M.L.A. for Gjoa Haven
    complaining about ” immigrants & foreigners ” is doing you
    no good at all.
    For what it is worth there are also racist groups in the south
    who want to stop funding to Nunavut as they are fed up of
    paying for it to exist.
    We all have our opinions and free speech.

Comments are closed.