Feature Interview: Fighting domestic violence in remote northern communities

Victims of domestic violence face numerous challenges no matter where they live in Canada.

But for Inuit women living in remote Arctic communities support services are sometimes non-existent. And if help is available, it is often far away from their home community and offered only in English or French instead of their native Inuktitut.

“Because of lack of safe shelters our women are murdered in their homes, and sometimes children too,” says Rebecca Kudloo, President of Pauktuutit, Canada`s national Inuit organization. “We are saying we need services for women so they have a place to go. This winter it is -58c. How does one get out from their home and be safe with their children? It’s -58c outside.”

Funding and resources

More Inuit-specific programs are needed, run with respect for Inuit culture, Kudloo says. But there are some positive trends, she adds, including greater collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian national police force responsible for many of Canada’s Inuit regions, including the eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut.

“(There`s) more Inuit RCMP that understand the communities,” she says. “We are working more with the RCMP so when a women calls and needs help they can respond quicker before things are out of hand.”

To help us better understand these issues and the kinds of funding and programs needed in the North, Eye on the Arctic spoke to Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit, the Canadian national Inuit organization:

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Violence and public health in the North – What about the men?, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Denmark: Nordics report high abuse levels against women, Radio Sweden

Finland: Finland ‘downplays’ suicide figures says expert, Yle News

Iceland: Iceland has first fatal police shooting, The Associated Press

Russia: Why high suicide rates in Arctic Russia?, Deutsche Welle’s Ice-Blogger

Sweden:  Reports of violent crime increasing in Sweden’s North, Radio Sweden

United States: Survey finds violence against women widespread in Western Alaska region, Alaska Public Radio Network


Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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