New program to tackle child sexual abuse in Canada’s Nunavut territory

‘When I was growing up there was no resources, no help,’ says Diane Sammurtok, a survivor of sexual abuse. (Jackie McKay/CBC)
A new program in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut aims to prevent the sexual abuse of children.

Our Children, Our Responsibility is a workshop designed by residents and stakeholders in Nunavut to educate adults on what to do if a child discloses sexual abuse, how to recognize the signs, and how to prevent abuse.

“When I was growing up there was no resources, no help, and I kept it silent,” said Diane Sammurtok, a survivor of sexual abuse when she was 12 years old.

Sammurtok shared her experience as part of the program by the Embrace Life Council, which spent nearly three years designing the workshop.

“We have to protect our children. We have to talk to them,” said Sammurtok.

‘We found this [program is] a major need,’ says David Lawson, president of the Embrace Life Council. (Jackie McKay/CBC)
Over 40 per cent suffered abuse

According to the Inuit National Health Survey 2007-2008, 41 per cent of respondents said they had experienced severe sexual abuse during childhood.

“We found this [program is] a major need,” said David Lawson, president of the Embrace Life Council. “It’s also a risk factor for suicides when sexual assaults are happening.”

The program is part of Nunavut’s National Prevention Strategy Action Plan, Inuusivut Anninaqtuq.

The program is free and for anyone in Nunavut. People can request that the Embrace Life Council bring the workshop to their community.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Pauktuutit to explore challenges confronting Inuit women in Canada’s extractive industry, Eye on the Arctic

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

United States: Archdiocese in Alaska orders independent review to address possible sexual abuse, Alaska Public Media

Jackie McKay, CBC News

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