Nunavut organizations call for action against domestic violence
Community walk and vigil mark Day of Remembrance
Iqalummiut demonstrated solidary in support of ending violence against women Dec. 6.
About 50 solid supporters of the cause braved rush hour traffic for a cross-town walk from the Igluvut Building at the Four Corners to Inuksuk High School, where 100 more awaited the annual vigil for action on violence against women and girls.
“This year we wanted to take it from a very upsetting thing, to a sense of hope, that we’re not just here to remember people who died, but that we want to do something about moving it, changing it,” said Beth Beattie, executive director for the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council.
Qulliit and YWCA Agvvik Nunavut, with the support of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Alianait, put on this year’s vigil to mark the Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
“We are gathered here for three purposes tonight,” Sheila Levy, president of YWCA Agvvik, told all assembled for the ceremony at the high school. The vigil not only honours the memory of the 14 women who were murdered 24 years before, at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, for being female, she said, “but very importantly, to honour and remember all of those in Nunavut who have been affected by violence.”
The third purpose “is to see beyond the despair and tragedy, and to find hope, hope to find and implement ways to lessen the violence that Nunavummiut are experiencing all too often,” Levy said.
YWCA Agvvik runs the Qimaavik shelter for battered women, and Sivummut House, the shelter for homeless women and children in Iqaluit.
Nunavut suffers from the highest per capita rate of violence against women, and domestic violence overall out of all provinces and territories in Canada.
“It is time for us to put our ideas into action, for the women and children in our care and in our shelters,” Levy said, “for all Nunavummiut who are experiencing violence, either as the person being assaulted or the assaulter themselves, we need to provide them with better options and a sense of hope.”
Levy called on all governments, organizations and communities to work together on a “holistic approach” to curb the problem, one that includes “anger-management techniques, substance-abuse programs, self-esteem promotion, counselling, education and attitude-shifts.”
YWCA Agvvik and Qulliit are hopeful that an action plan, first proposed by the territorial government in 2011, will move forward as the territory’s new government gets under way.
Levy commented that both organizations keep their programs running through contribution agreements and ongoing fundraising efforts, “but it’s never enough to cover the expenses we have,” she said.