WOMEN’S CONFERENCE “ARNALIAT NIPINGIT” 2015 – AKULIVIK
From March 2nd to 6th in Akulivik, Saturviit Inuit Women’s Association of Nunavik, proudly welcomed 60 participants to its second biennial women’s conference. Among the participants, 56 were women, and 53 were Inuit coming from the 14 Nunavik communities and Montreal. Inuit from all age groups were represented: 27 adults, 11 elders and 15 youth.
This successful event was an occasion for Inuit women to learn about important social issues that touched them daily, such as FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and parental difficulties, as well as to make their own experiences, questions and concerns heard by other women. For this reason, the conference dealt with a number of sensitive topics and touching disclosures: child neglect, alcoholism, sexual abuse and domestic violence, among other things. Saturviit is of the opinion that it is urgent for all Inuit women, young and old, to have a tribunal to share their suffering as much as their hope, and to learn from others’ experiences and knowledge. The dialogue shared during the conference will contribute to helping individual Inuit and Inuit women as a group to move towards solutions to significant social problems.
During three days of presentations and dynamic discussions, thirteen speakers, most of who were Nunavik women, raised both crucial and awkward social issues afflicting Nunavik nowadays. Saturviit invited five special guests who shared their positive life experiences as leaders and models. Their presentations were particularly inspiring to the younger generation and promoted optimism throughout the gathering.
On Day One, Saturviit’s study report on Nunavik women’s life conditions, needs and concerns was presented, following by a presentation from Alana Boileau, a representative of Quebec Native Women’s Association (QNW), about missing and murdered indigenous women. The audience appreciated hearing that QNW is concerned with the same issues as Saturviit. After lunch, Mary Kaye May discussed issues in relation to FASD, and Annie Nulukie promoted a discussion about parenting. Parenting and behavioural issues in children generated a great deal of interest for young mothers in the audience. At the end of the first day, Eva Deer, Saturviit’s guest of honour, was given tribute for her exhaustive work as a leader in Nunavik. Copies of her biography, newly published, were distributed to the audience and Eva offered an encouraging speech about her life and her work in Nunavik.
Day Two was devoted to discussions around the topic of women employed in the mining industry, particularly around results of the recent community consultations about women and employment in mining sponsored by KRG Sustainable Employment Department. Participants formed two groups to reflect on ways of the improving and increasing women’s employment in mining.
Day Three started with Lizzie Aloupa facilitating discussion about sexual abuses. The interchange extended throughout the morning because of significant interest in the topic. After lunch, Lisa Koperqualuk and Siasi Kanarjuak animated a session on school perseverance and Esuma organization. The concluding session of the conference was a lively round-table with three important leaders and role models: Lisa Koperqualuk, Mary Pilurtuut and Maggie Emudluk. Each shared their personal experiences as women, leaders and Inuit, and doing so, offered hope and confidence to other women.
The women’s conference closed on the evening of the third day with a community feast and enjoyable entertainment of fashion show and performances of throat singers and two guitarists-singers. All Akulivik community members were invited. The municipality offered caribou, seal meat, mussels and fish. Saturviit prepared a buffet, and was pleased to welcome the community in large numbers. The final evening, and the conference in general, apparently left everyone with feelings of satisfaction and smiles.
Participants had also the opportunity to follow a Good Touch/Bad Touch workshop on March 6-7 2015.
For the Inuktitut version of the press release, click here.