Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 20, 2014 - 4:46 pm

RCMP report on murdered, missing women not Inuit-specific: Pauktuutit

Pauktuutit not ready to support idea of national inquiry

SARAH ROGERS
Students from the Nunavut Sinuniksavut program in Ottawa took part in a March vigil held to mark the homicide of Loretta Saunders, an Inuk woman from Labrador and show support for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NS)
Students from the Nunavut Sinuniksavut program in Ottawa took part in a March vigil held to mark the homicide of Loretta Saunders, an Inuk woman from Labrador and show support for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NS)

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada says they’re concerned about the absence of Inuit-specific data in a recent report released by the RCMP on missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.

A new RCMP study, released May 16, confirms that aboriginal women in Canada suffer much higher rates of violent crime than non-aboriginals.

The 22-page National Operational Overview found that 1,181 aboriginal women were murdered or reported missing between 1980 and 2012.

It’s not clear how many of those are Inuit, but the report noted there were 20 female victims of homicide reported in Nunavut over that period, all of whom were aboriginal.

And that lack of information is problematic, said Pauktuutit president Rebecca Kudloo.

“Violence against women has been one of our top priorities for the last 30 years,” Kudloo said. “We want immediate action in the form of a national action plan to address Inuit priorities.”

In 2011, Statistics Canada estimated Canada’s Aboriginal population at about 1.4 million, or 4.3 per cent of the total Canadian population.

Canada’s Inuit, according to Statistics Canada, stood in 2011 at 59,445 people: 4.2 per cent of Canada’s Aboriginal population and 0.2 per cent of Canada’s population.

While the RCMP report highlights certain risk factors of murdered aboriginal females, like employment status, use of intoxicants and involvement in the sex trade, Kudloo said the report fails to identify the vulnerabilities that are unique to Inuit communities.

Those risk factors include the housing crisis, high suicide rates and unresolved past traumas, “all issues that require specialised support that just isn’t available in the Inuit Nunangat,” she said.

Pauktuutit has noted that 70 per cent of communities across the North don’t have emergency shelters.

“Because there are no shelters, sometimes they are murdered at home,” she said. “That is an immediate need for Inuit women.”

Those are a few of the reasons why Pauktuutit does not support a national inquiry for murdered and missing aboriginal women.

This part March, Pauktuutit’s board of directors passed a resolution saying the organization would require more information on the scope of such an inquiry before they can support it.

For an inquiry to be successful, Inuit women must be fully consulted and included in the process, along with victims’ families, Kudloo said.

Despite mounting pressure from aboriginal groups and a recommendation by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, the federal government has so far refused to launch an inquiry, with Justice Minister Peter Mackay suggesting the need for more action, rather than study.

Kudloo said the RCMP report responds to one of Pauktuutit’s main recommendations: that family violence prevention needs to be made a priority for action, particularly in communities with high rates of violence.

“We welcome that recommendation,” Kudloo said.

“But at Pauktuutit we are increasingly concerned that a proposal we submitted to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada in February 2014 for a national, Inuit-specific family violence awareness campaign has still not been approved.

“We all need to work together to reduce violence and save lives,” she added. “We are here to collaborate and share our knowledge and expertise.”

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