Canadian Inuit women’s organization weighs in on sexual harassment controversy in Arctic

Rebecca Kudloo, the president of Pauktuutit, Canada’s national Inuit women’s organization. “Pauktuutit recognizes that Inuit women face complex issues, including barriers to their full participation in a healthy and harassment-free workplace,” the organization said in a news release on Thursday. (Pauktuutit)
Canada’s national Inuit women’s organization weighed in on a sexual harassment controversy in the eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut on Thursday but without getting into specifics.

The controversy stems from a September 26 House of Commons’ Status of Women committee where Madeleine Redfern, the mayor of Nunavut’s capital city of Iqaluit, appeared to discuss the barriers women faced entering politics.

During the presentation, Redfern discussed workplace harassment in Nunavut, singling out Inuit male leaders who use their position to sexually harass, exploit or assault female staff.

An October 10 report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) outlined some of the blowback Redfern received since.

Although she received much support for speaking out,  she was still having to defend herself on Twitter on Thursday.

Pauktuutit, Canada’s national Inuit women’s organization, addressed the controversy in a Thursday news release titled “Pauktuutit responds to comments of sexual harassment regarding Inuit leaders in Nunavut,” voicing support for women, but without getting into specifics about Redfern’s comments.

“Pauktuutit recognizes that Inuit women face complex issues, including barriers to their full participation in a healthy and harassment-free workplace,” the news release said.

“We have tirelessly advocated for Inuit-specific prevention, healing, and treatment services for victim/survivors of abuse, as well as offenders, in addition to urging governments and policymakers to do more to prevent, identify and respond appropriately to violence and abuse.

“Pauktuutit stands with victim/survivors of sexual harassment and sexual violence and those who speak out against it. We recognize the courage and strength it takes for individuals to talk about sexual harassment and sexual violence. We continue to work towards ensuring that all Inuit survivors have access to high-quality, culturally-safe and responsive programs and services.”

Canada’s three northern territories have the highest rate of police-reported sexual assault rates in the country: Nunavut with 567.4 cases per 100,000 people, the Northwest Territories with 404.3 per 100,000 people, and the northwestern Yukon territory with 204.8 per 100,000 people.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at) 

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Mayor in Arctic Canada faces backlash after calling out some male Inuit leaders as sexual predators, CBC News

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

Finland: Swedish-speaking Finnish women launch their own #metoo campaign, Yle News

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 Dispatch News


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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