Inuit Action Plan underway to implement recommendatons from landmark Canadian report on violence against Indigenous women

Rebecca Kudloo, President of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, speaks on a panel in relation to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on January 16, 2020 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, the organization that represents Inuit women in the country, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organization in Canada, say they’re “encouraged” work is finally underway with the federal government on the co-development of a national action plan to implement recommendatons from a landmark Canadian report on violence against Indigenous women.

“Inuit representatives are working to ensure that Inuit women and girls receive the same standard of safety, health, education, and justice enjoyed by all Canadians, and the physical, emotional, economic, social and cultural security that many Canadians take for granted,” the two organizations said in a joint news release on December 15. 

“The Inuit Action Plan will address these inequities with concrete, timely and measurable systemic changes so that Inuit women and girls — as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual persons — achieve substantive equality.”

Inuit Working Group

The Inuit working group for the project has representatives from 10 Inuit organizations from across Canada:

  • Pauktuutit
  • Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
  • Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
  • Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
  • Makivik Corporation
  • Nunatsiavut Government
  • Family & Survivors Circle
  • Urban Inuit/Tungasuvvingat Inuit
  • AnânauKatiget Tumingit Regional Inuit Women’s Association
  • Saturviit Inuit Women’s Association of Nunavik
Action plan delayed by pandemic

Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMWIG) was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015 after calls from many Indigenous leaders, groups and organisations to examine the high rates of violence against indigenous women in Canada.

Indigenous women make up 4 per cent of Canada’s female population, but 16 per cent of all women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were Indigenous, the government says.

The inquiry’s mandate was to examine and report on the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls as well as how investigations are conducted by authorities. The inquiry also examined violence against the 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) community. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, holds a copy of the report presented to him by commissioners Marion Buller, centre, Michèle Audette, third from right, Brian Eyolfson, second from right, and Qajaq Robinson at the closing ceremony for the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Gatineau, Que., on June 3, 2019. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The inquiry was a massive undertaking, spanning each region of the country.

The national inquiry held 15 public community hearings, and visited each of Canada’s northern territories: Yukon in the northwest, the Northwest Territories, and Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. The MMWIG commissioners heard 1484 testimonies from families and survivors during this period of the inquiry. Separate hearings were also held to hear testimony from people working in institutions and from elders, academics, front-line workers and specialists. 

When the report was released on June 3, 2019 there were 46 Inuit-specific recommendations, referred to as ‘calls for justice,’ that included everything from the need for better mental health services in the Arctic to the need for urgent action on the housing crisis.

The action plan for implementing the recommendations had been said to be released June 3, on the one-year anniversary of the report. But in May, Canada’s Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett said COVID-19 had delayed the government’s time line.

Pauktuutit and ITK said they will be delivering their Inuit Action Plan to the federal government by the spring of 2021 which will make up the Inuit Chapter of the MMWIG National Action Plan.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Women in Northern Canada travel farthest to access domestic violence shelters, CBC News

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

Sweden: Report sheds light on Swedish minority’s historic mistreatment, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska reckons with missing data on murdered Indigenous women, Alaska Public Media

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

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 an 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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