Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 41: Justice (25-42)

Almost $500K will help Ulukhaktok women’s society protect Inuit

December 16, 2022

A women’s society formed in Ulukhaktok last year is set to receive almost half a million dollars in federal funding as it works to create a shelter and more supports for Inuit families.

Ulukhaktok in January 2021. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Cabin Radio: Janine Harvey, executive director of the Tahiuqtiit Women’s Society, said the funding was a “massive accomplishment” for the community and could help to reshape how Inuit women and families are protected.

The society will receive up to $490,000, the federal government announced on Thursday.

Harvey told Cabin Radio the money will help her society draw up policies and procedures that help Inuit fleeing family violence, with the ultimate goal of creating a shelter for the fly-in Arctic coastal hamlet.

She hopes the society’s work will be adopted by other Inuit communities and used to create shelters that offer an alternative to approaching RCMP or social services for help. “We’re going to give this information back to the government,” she said of the planned research, “to say these are the proposed recommendations for Inuit women and people who use these services, so that we’re not working in a colonized way, we’re taking care of our Inuit rights.”

Harvey added: “I’m hoping, with the cooperation of Housing NWT, we can open [a shelter] sooner than later.

“It’s a need for the community – not only a shelter but one that has programming, resources, and advocacy for people in Ulukhaktok to access. A shelter where you don’t have to jump through hoops. We all know, in the NWT and throughout Nunavut, there are a lot of hoops we have to jump through.”

‘On the map for funding’

The Tahiuqtiit Women’s Society is calling its project Tungasugit, or Welcome, the federal government stated.

Harvey grew up in Ulukhaktok, moving to Yellowknife in the late 1990s where she said she had worked at the likes of the Centre for Northern Families, the YWCA and Alison McAteer House. She helped create the city’s Housing First program, she said.

Moving back to Ulukhaktok three years ago, Harvey said she heard community members asking for “a shelter, a place to cook, a place to do your laundry.”

“For a fly-in community with no road access, it’s really difficult to get supports. I’m hoping, through this, we can create a safe place for victims of violence to have a shelter with 24-hour access,” she said on Thursday, thanking the society’s board and its partners for their work to date.

“I’ve lived this and I’ve been through this before. Women are traumatized time and time again, and we want to make sure we have those supports. “Communities that don’t have road access are always left out. I want to make sure we are on the map for the proper funding.”

A health research centre in Iqaluit will also receive a similar sum, the federal government said in a news release. The money comes from a $600-million fund announced last year to combat gender-based violence.

“The projects announced today will address the root causes of violence while giving better support to those who survived it, charting a path toward building safer communities,” NWT MP Michael McLeod stated.

“Based on relevant data and culturally informed practices, these organizations and initiatives will build a better future for everyone living in Canada.”