Facing pressure from the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, the federal government announced Tuesday that it will provide funding for the construction and operation of shelters for Inuit women and children across Inuit Nunangat as well as in urban centres.
The money will come from the Government of Canada’s $724.1-million Violence Prevention Strategy.
Inuit women face violence at a rate 14 times greater than other Canadian women and “unfortunately, the majority of them do not have safe places to go to,” the federal government acknowledged in a news release. More than 70 per cent of Canada’s 51 Inuit communities do not have access to an emergency shelter.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this already dire situation, where some women are concerned about domestic violence during the pandemic than they are about the virus,” the news release reads.
At its 2020 annual general meeting, Pauktuutit called for the construction of five new emergency shelters – in Nunavut, the NWT, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and one in Ottawa, which is home to the largest population of urban Inuit in Canada.
The Government of Canada stated that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will work with Pauktuutit and other Inuit partners to determine the locations and define the details of the projects.
“Today’s announcement is what concrete action toward meaningful reconciliation with Inuit women looks like,” said Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. “Last year, Pauktuutit met with federal cabinet ministers and told them our highest priority was funding for five emergency shelters for women and children. They listened to us and today the federal government has delivered. Pauktuutit looks forward to working with our Inuit Nunangat partners, as well as Inuit organizations in Ottawa to co-develop the applications for these new shelters which are urgently needed and will save lives.”
Marc Miller, federal minister of Indigenous Services, said, “Inuit women experience a disproportionately high rate of family violence compared to other Canadians. We listened to Inuit partners and we are reaffirming our commitment to address the critical safety needs of vulnerable Inuit women and children. This important commitment will provide the necessary protection and support services necessary to aid survivors and end further violence and abuse.”