Nunavut should pass an act that would allow people at risk of domestic violence to find out if their intimate partner has been violent or has an abusive history, Iqaluit Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak-Lightstone said Tuesday.

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak-Lightstone wants police and certain government officials to be empowered to inform Nunavummiut whether their intimate partners have a history of domestic violence. photo courtesy of the legislative assembly

Rates of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse in the territory are at “crisis levels,” according to Arreak-Lightstone. He cited figures indicating that the number of Nunavummiut on the registered sex offenders list has climbed to nearly 650 from a little under 500 over the past two years.

The potential law that Arreak-Lightstone is advocating would give police and certain government officials the freedom to warn potential victims about known high-risk offenders.

Responding in the legislative assembly, Premier Joe Savikataaq wouldn’t commit to introducing such a law in Nunavut.

“I do know that we can’t incarcerate ourselves out of this situation. The answer is not to put every offender in jail. The answer is to work with the offender, to work with the victim,
to work with people so that stuff like this would be unacceptable. It is unacceptable, but if
everyone believed and lived that it was unacceptable, then it wouldn’t be happening,” Savikataaq said. “We as a government are doing our best to help people who need help and help the victims that need help, but we as a society have to tackle this problem wholly. We can’t have a piecemeal solution and as a society we have to embrace this hard topic.”

The premier later said the GN could “look at that and see what is possible,” but he also noted that there are privacy issues, including the victim’s privacy, to consider.

Arreak-Lightstone subsequently asked Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak if she would support such a law. Ehaloak said she would have to research the topic first.

Arreak-Lightstone told Nunavut News, “Many of the provinces in Canada with high rates of domestic violence have also passed similar versions of the law, and it is unfortunate that our justice department’s legal advisers have failed to brief our minister and cabinet on such an initiative.”

He said he wants a Nunavut law to go beyond warning of histories of domestic assault but also to inform potential victims about child predators.

 

Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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