Canadian Inuit women’s org says throne speech sent the right signals

The procession including Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for the speech from the throne in the Senate chamber in Ottawa, Wednesday, Sept.23, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, an organization that represents Inuit women in Canada, says Wednesday’s throne speech sent the right signals on some of their key issues including shelter investment and police oversight. 

In Canada, the speech from the throne opens a new session of Parliament and sets out the government’s priorities.

In the runup to the speech, Pauktuutit outlined three key areas it hoped to see addressed: $20 million to build five shelters for Inuit women, four in the Inuit regions of Canada’s Arctic, and one in Ottawa, which has a large Inuit population; the implementation of 15 policing recommendations put together by Pauktuutit that they say would improve the safety of Inuit women; and programing increasing access to affordable housing and skills training opportunities for Inuit women.

Wednesday’s speech focused heavily on health and economic recovery from COVID-19, and although there were few Arctic-specific priorities outlined, Pauktuutit said the commitment to general shelter investment, police oversight and the government’s pledge for a “feminist and intersectional” recovery were promising.

“Pauktuutit applauds the government’s commitment to an intersectional response and recovery with a focus on women, including increased support for women entrepreneurs and the creation of an Action Plan for Women in the Economy,” Rebecca Kudloo, Pauktuutit’s president, said in a news release on Thursday. 

“Pauktuutit is also encouraged by the government’s commitment to civilian oversight of the RCMP, a shift toward community-led policing, and better training for police,” said Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. (Tania Budgell/Pauktuutit)
MMIWG commitments

During the speech, the government promised to continue work on reconciliation, one of the cornerstone policies of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that seeks to redefine the relationships between the government and Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

In the speech, the government also pledged to continue working on implementing recommendations of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report as well as the calls to justice from the 2019
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).

A national action plan was expected in June, but at the end of May, the federal government said the process had been derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic and that it wasn’t possible to give a time line for when it might be finished.

“Pauktuutit is pleased to see a commitment to getting the MMIWG national action plan delivered, as soon as possible,” Kudloo said. “The development of this strategy must fully involve Inuit led organizations and be respectful of the families of our missing and murdered women and girls.”

Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
MMWIG Commissioners Qajaq Robinson and Michèle Audette prepare to hand the inquiry’s final report to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a ceremony in Gatineau, Que., on June 3, 2019. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)
  • Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMWIG) was announced by Trudeau in 2015 after calls from many Indigenous leaders, groups and organizations to examine the high rates of violence against indigenous women in Canada.
  • The final report was issued on June 3, 2019 with 231 calls for justice, with 46 Inuit-specific recommendations that included everything from the need for better mental health services in the Arctic to the need for urgent action on the housing crisis.

In the throne speech, the government pledged to continue work on its Canada-wide Gender-Based Violence Strategy as well as investing in new shelters but did not specify whether any resources for shelters would be earmarked for the North.

“We look forward to learning more details about these critical promises in the coming weeks and to working with the government to turn these commitments into concrete actions,” Kudloo said.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories around the North:

Canada: Northerners hopeful after Canadian throne speech, CBC News

Denmark: COVID-19 could delay Kingdom of Denmark’s Arctic strategy, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Sámi reconciliation process gains final approval in Finland, Yle News

Iceland: Iceland extends bar, nightclub COVID-19 closures in capital area until September 27, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Are potential Arctic security threats eclipsing urgent action on climate? A new study makes its case, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Russia removes critical voices ahead of Arctic Council chairmanship, claims Indigenous peoples expert, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Twenty-five Indigenous Sami remains returned by museum are reburied in northern Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: Indigenous communities in Alaska harder hit by COVID-19, The Associated Press

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."

One thought on “Canadian Inuit women’s org says throne speech sent the right signals

  • Friday, September 25, 2020 at 16:08

    The Throne Speech’s reference to an acceleration of Canada’s development of a national pharmacare plan, along with other progressive measures, is likely in exchange for needed NDP support of the shaky Liberal minority government.
    Liberal and Conservative governments have consistently allowed us to remain the world’s sole country that has universal healthcare but does not similarly cover prescribed medication, however necessary.
    Assuming it’s not just another hollow promise of universal medication coverage, why has it taken so long for a Canadian federal government to implement one?
    (And considering it’s a potential life-and-death issue, why has our news-media not pursued it far more than it has?)
    Not only does this make medication affordability much harder, but many low-income outpatients who cannot afford to fill their prescriptions end up back in the hospital system thus costing far more than if their generic-brand medication was covered.
    Logic says, we cannot afford to maintain such an absurdity that costs Canada billions extra annually.
    It’s not coincidental that the absence of universal medication coverage also keeps the pharmaceutical industry’s profits soaring.
    Without doubt, its lobbyists in Ottawa are well worth their bloated salaries.

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