The head of Pauktuutit, a group that lobbies the federal government on behalf of Inuit women, is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reconsider the money it’s setting aside for First Nation and Inuit shelters for women and calling for five Inuit -specific shelters.
“In 2015, Prime Minister Trudeau made a commitment to ensure the equality of all women in Canada. This must include Inuit women,” said Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit, in a statement released Tuesday.
The “urgent plea” comes on the heels of a $100-million announcement made by the federal Liberals for construction of 12 new shelters for Indigenous women and girls – 10 in the south and two in the north.
The statement released by Pauktuutit says “the new funding does not include any Inuit-specific shelters for women and children fleeing violence.”
Kudloo is calling for $20 million – and for the government to follow through with at least one of the 46 calls for justice aimed at Inuit women in the final report of the National Inquiry’s into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Two years ago, Kudloo testified before inquiry.
She said a year later, she’s disappointed with the plan announced by the government.
“Like, we have the highest rates of violence in Canada up north. For us to be getting two, we don’t know where, is not good enough,” Kudloo said.
Kudloo wants four multi-purpose shelters for Inuit women and children in the north and one located in Ottawa, a major hub for medical appointments for Inuit.
“Because they go down with no money, a lot of times,” Kudloo said. “And people take advantage of that. They can either be, you know, trafficked or go into prostitution.
“Sometimes they have no other choice or go on the streets, they’re homeless.”
Kudloo also said she was disappointed with the delay in releasing a national action plan as promised on the one-year anniversary of the release of the final report.
APTN News first reported there would be no plan on May 15 when former MMIWG inquiry commissioner Marion Buller said she hadn’t heard anything from the government.
Trudeau and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations, are both blaming the pandemic for being unable to follow through with the promise.
Kudloo said she’s frustrated with the government, especially given the pain the families went through at the inquiry.
“Women are still getting killed to this day. So we’re going to have to do something and we’ve been asking for 35 years,” she said.
“So how much longer are we going to be fighting for this?”
Kudloos said she wants to see the action plan on the 231 calls for justice by December – at the latest.
APTN asked Indigenous Services where the two northern shelters will be going.
A spokesperson said proposals will be accepted by interested communities.