SJSWC Issuing Report Cards on Provincial Government’s Action on Women’s Rights

St. John’s, NL – The St. John’s Status of Women Council (SJSWC) has issued its first in a series of report cards that address the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s action on gender equality and justice in the province.

The organization has produced an interim report card on the Minister’s Committee on Violence Against Women and Girls based on the progress report released by the Department of Justice and Public Safety last week. This and subsequent report cards are intended to raise public awareness about the province’s progress in addressing gender inequality.

Nine key areas that fall under the jurisdiction of the provincial government have been identified by the SJSWC for tracking and reporting purposes:

●   Women and Justice;
●   Women and Childcare;
●   Women’s Economic Equality;
●   Women’s Health;
●   Women and Education;
●   Violence Against Women;
●   Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls;
●   Women and Leadership; and,
●   Support for Women’s Organizations.

Jenny Wright, Executive Director, St. John’s Status of Women Council:
“Currently the status of women in Newfoundland and Labrador is alarming, as we experience the highest wage gap in the country, above the national average levels of domestic violence, costly and inadequate childcare, considerable barriers to accessing healthcare and an over representation in precarious and minimum wage jobs. We applaud the government for its support of women’s leadership. However, progress is much too slow and requires better collaboration with women’s groups throughout the province.”

All levels of governments have a role to play in addressing inequality in meaningful ways. This initiative will hold NL governments accountable and work towards advancing the quality of life for women and their children.

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Media Contact
Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre
The St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre is a feminist organization that since 1972 is continually working to achieve equality and justice through political activism, community collaboration and the creation of a safe and inclusive space for all women in the St. John’s area. The St. John’s Status of Women Council operates the Women’s Centre, Marguerite’s Place Supportive Housing Program and the Safe Harbour Outreach Project.

For Immediate Release: PANSOW calls for action by the Department of Education on sexual violence

October 5, 2018

For immediate release

RE: PANSOW calls for action by the Department of Education on sexual violence

Last year, allegations of sexual assault by a student resulted in legislative changes to the Schools Act, 1997, which came into effect on September 1, 2018. It provides the Director of Education with the authority to refuse to admit a student on school property where it is his/her opinion that the presence of the student is detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of students or staff. It was announced that polices were forthcoming based on these changes and to address sexual violence in our schools. However, in recent weeks, allegations of sexual assault at another school have come forward and highlighted the lack of movement on these promises.

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women believes that a holistic and trauma informed approach is needed that addresses the need for safety during transportation to and from school, during school, and while involved in extracurricular school activities.  This requires changes in policy and practice that address the physical and psychological safety needs of students and staff.  Trauma can impact an individual’s ability to acquire new knowledge and to retrieve stored information, thereby impacting the ability to learn. Creating safety is paramount in helping individuals regain a sense of control and concentrate.

Measures that address safety on buses may include the use of bus monitors, paid or volunteer, to assist with the supervision of students or cameras.  School buses can accommodate up to 72 passengers; far too many for a single driver to monitor while also having to tend to the duties of driving and following the rules of the road.  Cameras may provide legal evidence of the behaviours and actions that are occurring that are not observable by the driver.

During the school day, it is important to provide supports in terms of guidance and psychological services for those impacted by trauma and its impacts on daily activities.  In addition, accommodations, short or long term, may be required to help students remain in school and complete their curriculum.  This will be best determined by consulting with the student, their family and any professional supports they are using to assist with their recovery.

Policy and procedures for extracurricular activities should be reviewed and updated and ensure that they provide adequate supervision for all students.  The procedures for reporting incidents need to be clear and reflect the serious nature of the trauma a student may experience.

To create systemic change in how we identify and intervene when violence occurs can only happen with changes to the curriculum. Curriculum changes that focus on healthy relationships, boundary setting and consent can create a safe and more inclusive learning environment and help us ensure students lead vibrant and healthy lives. Professional development training in trauma informed practice is also necessary for all employees to ensure early detection and response, and to create supportive environments for all involved with teaching and shaping the minds of our children and youth.

PANSOW is available for consultation in creating these necessary changes as we have experience in providing both front line support to individuals impacted by sexual violence and in policy development.  Changes are needed now and we cannot wait for more students and families to be left in limbo.

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Media Contacts
Paula Sheppard Thibeau
Executive Director
Corner Brook Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.639.8522
cbwomenscentre@gmail.com

Janice Kennedy

Executive Director

Bay St. George Status of Women Council

Tel. 709-643-4444

executivedirector.bsgswc@gmail.com

 

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women supports the call for a Provincial Task Force on Gender-Based Violence

 

For Immediate Release
October 4, 2018

There has been a significant rise in the rates of domestic and sexual violence in Newfoundland and Labrador. In advance of the In Her Name vigil for missing and murdered women and girls of NL, the St. John’s Status of Women Council and St. John’s Native Friendship Centre are calling once again for the establishment of a provincial task force on gender-based violence. The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is fully supporting this call to action.

We wish to see the establishment of a task force that is well-resourced, which includes a budget, staffing, strong terms of reference, and ministerial level accountability. If we are to see tangible change in the levels of violence women and girls experience daily we must have the political will to drive significant changes in legislation, policy, and funding.

We are aware of the Minister’s Committee on Violence Against Women and Girls in Newfoundland and Labrador struck last year and support that community collaboration. The committee can be a significant and vital part of the work of the task force. However, a St. John’s-centric committee alone is simply not the right mechanism to deal with the magnitude of the issues of violence against women and girls in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Paula Sheppard Thibeau, PANSOW Co-chair and Executive Director, Corner Brook Status of Women Council:

“Only through a collaborative approach that includes stakeholders from various sectors and areas of the province can we reduce violence in our families and communities. The work of a gender-based violence task force must focus on strengthening efforts for early identification and intervention, and providing individuals affected with the necessary supports to gain economic, psychological, and physical well-being.”

Raelene Vickers, Executive Director, Mokami Status of Women Council:

“Violence against women and girls in Labrador is a massive concern that needs to be addressed through a province-wide task force on gender-based violence. Labrador communities have some of the highest rates of domestic violence across the country, and too many women are at risk. The cultural needs of Indigenous communities in Labrador must be included in a provincial plan to end gender-based violence. Women and girls in Labrador need to know that their safety and lives matter to the province.”

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Media Contacts

Paula Sheppard Thibeau
PANSOW Co-chair
Executive Director
Corner Brook Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.639.8522
cbwomenscentre@gmail.com 

Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

PANSOW applies a provincial lens to issues of equality and ensure a public voice for women from a non-partisan, grassroots, and feminist perspective. PANSOW consists of the Executive Directors of all eight councils in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW’s mandate is two-fold: To educate and build awareness on broad issues related to gender equity and justice in the province; and to advocate for change in government policy and legislation that facilitates gender equity and justice.

For Immediate Release: 136 Missing and Murdered Women, One Unified Call for Action

St. John’s, NL – One year ago, the organizers of the annual In Her Name vigil issued a call for the creation of a provincial task force on gender-based violence. The crowd that had gathered that evening listened as one by one, 117 names of our province’s missing and murdered women and girls were read aloud from the steps of the Colonial Building. We resolved to make change on their behalf, to end violence against women and girls.

That change has not been forthcoming. To date, there has been no movement on the establishment of a provincial task force. Through historical research and tips from the public and family members of those who have been lost to violence, this year’s list has now grown to include the names of 136 women and girls. Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country. Change is needed, and it’s needed now.

On Thursday, October 4, the St. John’s Status of Women Council and St. John’s Native Friendship Centre will join together in remembrance and will rally once more for action. The In Her Name vigil will take place at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Colonial Building at 90 Military Road in St. John’s. Jenelle Duval of Eastern Owl and Colleen Power will perform. The event will go ahead rain or shine and all are welcome.

Jenny Wright, Executive Director of the St. John’s Status of Women Council:

“A provincial task force on gender-based violence is past due. It is time to establish a well-resourced and fully funded task force to create a comprehensive plan to end violence against women and girls in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Amelia Reimer, Cultural Support Coordinator of the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre:

“In light of the ongoing National Inquiry into Missing/Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is extremely important to continue to shine a light on the violence Indigenous women face in this country. Indigenous women continue to experience violence at a much higher rate than non-Indigenous women. At the In Her Name vigil, we will come together as a province to remember all women and girls that have lost their lives to this violence, and we honour and respect that we are all ‘Sisters in Spirit,’ both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.”

The St. John’s Status of Women Council received support from Department of Justice Canada’s Victims and Survivors of Crime Week fund to establish the In Her Name Healing Garden at the St. John’s Women’s Centre this past summer. Families and loved ones will now have a place to gather and remember not just at the vigil, but throughout the year.

Individuals or groups who wish to volunteer or to read a name at the In Her Name vigil are invited to contact Amelia Reimer at amelia@sjnfc.com.

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Media Contacts

Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

Amelia Reimer
Cultural Support Coordinator
St. John’s Native Friendship Centre
amelia@sjnfc.com

For Immediate Release: New Survey Closing in on the Impact of Domestic Violence in the Workplace

St. John’s, NL – The St. John’s Status of Women Council has partnered with the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children at the University of Western Ontario to launch a critically important survey on the impact of Domestic Violence on workers and workplaces in Newfoundland and Labrador.

A national survey conducted by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) in 2014 found that Domestic Violence (DV) negatively affected the working lives of more than 80 per cent of DV survivors. Over half of those reporting DV experiences indicated that at least one type of abusive act occurred at or near the workplace. More data is needed to fully understand the scope of the impact of DV on workplaces in our province.

“Domestic Violence costs the Canadian economy a staggering $7.4 billion annually,” said Jenny Wright, Executive Director of the St. John’s Status of Women Council. “The good news is that Canadian and international research has shown that positive change can happen when the right types of policies, training and other supports are put in place. By completing the DV at Work survey, you can contribute to creating workplace practices that help support victims of DV and their co-workers.”

The survey is anonymous, and participation is voluntary. All workers in Newfoundland and Labrador over the age of 15 are invited to participate.

“We are working hard to ensure participation from all regions of Newfoundland and Labrador, all genders, Indigenous people, and people with different perspectives and experiences,” said Ms. Wright. “Your voice is important, whether or not you have personally experienced or witnessed violence.”

The DV at Work survey is available at https://sjwomenscentre.ca/dvatworknl/. Paper copies of the survey can be accessed by calling (709) 753-0220.

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Media Contact
Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre
The St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre is a feminist organization that since 1972 is continually working to achieve equality and justice through political activism, community collaboration and the creation of a safe and inclusive space for all women in the St. John’s area. The St. John’s Status of Women Council operates the Women’s Centre, Marguerite’s Place Supportive Housing Program and the Safe Harbour Outreach Project.

Backgrounder
A nationwide survey was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the University of Western Ontario in 2014 to help understand national DV trends. The resulting data illustrated that DV is a systemic barrier to women’s economic security. This has severe implications for our province’s labour force and presents a tremendous cost to our economy.

The CLC’s initiative was inspired by ground breaking surveys used to gather data in Australia. The Australian findings identified the prevalence and impact of DV on the workplace and resulted in vital new legislation. It mandated domestic/family violence workplace benefits, including dedicated paid leave and flexible work arrangements.

A growing number of provinces in Canada are implementing DV Leave legislation and policies to make workplaces safer. New Brunswick has most recently implemented DV Leave.

RESULTS FROM THE CLC’s PAN-CANADIAN SURVEY (2014):
• Over half (53.5 per cent) of those reporting DV experiences indicated that at least one type of abusive act occurred at or near the workplace. Of these, the most common were abusive phone calls or text messages (40.6 per cent) and stalking or harassment near the workplace.
• 53 per cent of survivors felt their job performance was negatively impacted.
• 75 per cent had difficulty concentrating on their work.
• 19 per cent reported causing or nearly causing workplace accidents due to their violent relationship.
• 40 per cent of those who reported experiencing Domestic Violence, said DV made it difficult for them to get to work.

For Immediate Release: March On St. John’s announces Solidarity Rally

Rally to End Family Separation
June 30, 2018 – 1 p.m.

In the spirit of equality, diversity, and inclusivity, Canadians across the country will rally in protest of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance and Family Separation policy in the United States – and to demand a strong response from our government here in Canada.

Despite the Executive Order signed by Mr. Trump last week, there is no plan to reunite the 2300 children who have been separated from their families since early April. The administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy is still in effect, meaning that all undocumented asylum seekers continue to be detained. Adherence to this policy means that the threat of continued family separation is very real.

The Rally in St. John’s will be held at 1 PM on JUNE 30th, 2018, at the COLONIAL BUILDING.

The Rally will target Canada’s response on three fronts:

1. A demand for a strong official statement from Canada on the human rights violations going on the U.S.

2. A demand for Canada’s withdrawal from, or the elimination of, our Third Safe Country Agreement with the U.S.

3. A demand that Canada examine and fix our own family separation policies, which affect both migrants and Indigenous families.

Speakers in St. John’s will include:

Details are still coming together – expect three speakers, and a musical guest TBA. Confirmed speakers:

Barbara Barker is a member of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation. She has worked across the country, including in Indigenous communities along BC’s Highway 16 or, more familiarly, the Highway of Tears and the Downtown East Side in Vancouver. As a staff lawyer with the NL Legal Aid Commission, Barbara has worked in the Provincial Director’s Office, taking files all over the Island and The Big Land, including Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Nain. She is a member of the Law Society of NL’s Indigenous Education & Action Committee, as well as its Education Committee, and serves on the Expert Advisory Panel for the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. She was recently employed by Memorial University as the Aboriginal Cultural Education Coordinator in the Aboriginal Resource Office, and presently works as the Legal Services Solicitor for the NL Legal Aid Commission.

City Councillor Maggie Burton grew up in Brigus, Newfoundland and Labrador. She moved to St. John’s in 2009 to study music at Memorial University. She is a musician, violin teacher, poet, and leadership coach. She was elected to St. John’s City Council in 2017. Maggie is a mother of two young children, Jack and Ursula, who teach her so much every day.

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For More Information:

March On Canada is a national, grassroots, activist network and evolved from the Women’s March movement of 2017.
Visit us at:
https://marchoncanada.ca
https://www.facebook.com/cdnmarchon/

March On St. John’s:
https://www.facebook.com/MarchOnSJ/

Media Contact, St. John’s:
Elisabeth de Mariaffi
(709) 749-2139
edemariaffi@gmail.com

This document and its contents are the property of March On St. John’s. Any unauthorized reproduction of this document, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

PANSOW calls for changes to justice system following the death of two women at the NL Correctional Centre for Women

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) stands in solidarity with families of incarcerated women. We join them in calling on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to initiate long overdue changes within our provincial justice system.

The 2008 report, Decades of Darkness: Moving Towards the Light – A review of the prison systems in Newfoundland and Labrador noted that many of those who are housed in our provincial prisons are there for crimes stemming from poverty, addictions, and mental health issues. Yet adequate and appropriate programming and services, especially gender-specific programming, to address these needs are not present within our correctional institutions. Prisons are not equipped to deal with these issues and the living conditions in these institutions often lead to deterioration of mental health. We are at a critical moment following the deaths of two women at the NL Correctional Centre for Women, change through community collaboration is paramount.

Samantha Piercey, who died in prison last month, died on remand. Charged, but not convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, our province has some of the highest rates of remand in the country. Whenever possible, individuals on remand should remain in the community with supports.

There is an immediate and critical need for supports, staffing and resources, gender-specific health care, an alleviation of overcrowding, and incidents of lock down. We are supportive of the independent review initiated by Minister Parsons however we ask for civilian oversight of this process and the involvement of incarcerated women and their families.

Media Contacts
Paula Sheppard Thibeau
Executive Director
Corner Brook Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.639.8522
cbwomenscentre@gmail.com

Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

PANSOW seeks clarification regarding mandatory counselling for Mifegymiso

The following letter was sent to the Hon. Dr. John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services via email at the end of May 2018. PANSOW requested clarification on his comments regarding the need for women to receive counselling before being prescribed the abortion pill, Mifegymiso. To date, no response has been received from his office. We urge you to join us in contacting the Minister of Health and Community Services to ensure that Mifegymiso is readily available to all women throughout the province through clinics and their family doctor without the need for mandatory counselling. 

Dear Minister John Haggie,

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is seeking clarification on your statement in regards to counselling for the abortion pill, Mifegymiso. Are you suggesting that women receive mental health counselling before being prescribed the medication or just a discussion with their doctor about potential side-effects of the medication?

PANSOW represents the eight Status of Women Councils of this province and we are pro-choice organizations that support people’s right to choose. We want to see Mifegymiso covered by MCP and that every family doctor or nurse practitioner can prescribe it to their patients.

It is important that women from any area of the province, particularly rural and remote areas, have access to this much needed and time sensitive service. Requiring women to access counselling before they can be prescribed the medication is a barrier with already lengthy wait times for counselling throughout the province or simply unavailable in some parts of the province.

We look forward to your response.

Thank you,

Janice Kennedy, Co-Chair of PANSOW

Media Contact
Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Doing Politics Differently: Drawing on Inuit Tradition and Winning Elections in Hopedale, Labrador

Rachel Saunders, newly elected Ordinary Member of the Nunatsiavut Assembly representing Hopedale, talks about her motivation, process, and winning strategy.

Rachel Saunders is making waves along the North Coast of Labrador for doing politics differently. We (Maggie Burton and Caitlin Urquhart) spent some time in May traveling the Coast and working with Nunatsiavut Status of Women Coordinator, Tracy Ann Evans Rice, to facilitate collaborative workshops on leadership development for Inuit women in the communities of Rigolet, Makkovik, Postville, Hopedale and Nain.

Everywhere we went, we heard about Rachel Saunders and her recent winning campaign in Hopedale, which had sparked the interest of just about everyone we talked to. On May 27, we had the opportunity to interview the newly-elected Ordinary Member for Hopedale, Nunatsiavut. Saunders won in a landslide with over 60% of the vote on May 1st, her opponents received 30% and 10% of the vote respectively.

Rachel ran an innovative campaign for Ordinary Member. She went door-to-door day in and day out, but rather than drop off a pamphlet, she came to listen to residents. Saunders recorded people’s concerns in her notebook and posted them on Facebook. This is not typical of an election in the small Northern community where candidates rarely canvas, let alone spend hours in peoples homes. Our workshop participants had heard that Saunders wrote down all the concerns she heard in a book after going house to house; they heard that she was doing things differently and it worked because she got the votes and won.

After our interview we left feeling inspired and empowered to continue to work for the greater good of our own community. Thank you, Rachel for stepping up to serve the people of Hopedale and Nunatsiavut. We hope your example inspires other women to run. (The nomination period for the AngajukKak positions is expected to open late this Summer for the September elections!)

(l-r): Maggie Burton, Rachel Saunders, and Caitlin Urquhart.

Maggie Burton: What is your role in the Nunatsiavut Assembly?

Rachel Saunders: Ordinary Member and Minister of Education and Economic Development.

MB: Why did you run?

RS: I ran because I want changes. I have a passion for helping people and the Nunatsiavut Government is able to help in a real way in the community. I’ve worked in the Mental Health and Addictions field for 13 years. I’ve received so much help in my life growing up that this is my way of giving back. It’s in my nature to advocate for people, especially for those who don’t have a voice, when even though they have a lot to say they can’t say anything. There has been a lack of communication between the government and the public—a lot of people don’t know what the Assembly is all about. I’d like to improve communication there.

MB: How was your campaign different than previous campaigns on the North Coast?

RS: I had advice for an Elder advisor about running a more traditional Inuit campaign. My campaign focused on listening to people. The way it was done before was so impersonal—go to a home, drop a pamphlet and leave. They thought that by giving someone a piece of paper and promising this and that they would support you. But you have to show them that you’re serious about the job, that you do want to help and advocate. By giving them the opportunity to talk, it could have been from 15 minutes to 2 hours. I did 9 visits a day—3 in the morning, 3 in the afternoon and 3 in the evening. I got to visit most of the homes in the town. I was upfront with everyone and didn’t have a personal agenda, I would let them know that I was there to hear what they wanted to change if I was elected. I didn’t make any promises except that I would do my best and always get back to people with a response after they bring a concern forward.

The first house I campaigned at the woman said to me: why do we always have to fight for things? Why? Why is it always just “good enough”? I said, no truer words have been spoken. It should be a given that things are good. We shouldn’t be fighting to get things done. We’re fighting for money. For land. For human rights. We’re fighting for everything. You can’t thrive when you’re fighting for what you have. We’re really lucky to have self-governance but we’re still fighting for what we already have instead of what we need.

I didn’t have any campaign team members, I did everything myself. But I had a lot of emotional support from family who helped make it possible to keep campaigning.

I did a lot of selfies to end visits on a positive note, and got the community engaged on social media. Now that I’m elected I want people to come into the assembly building to talk to me there over tea and coffee to make more social opportunities for discussions about important issues.

I have written down all the concerns people brought up during house to house visits and I plan to keep listening for more.

MB: Why do you think it’s important for women to be in Nunatsiavut’s Assembly?

RS: Inuit women are providers for their families. We know what needs to be done, financially and otherwise. Women are responsible for getting things done in the community. Women here are nurturing, have patience, have generations of experience with child-rearing. We are great at multitasking. I think a mother’s perspective is valuable, too, and often left out. I want to represent their perspective now that I’m elected.

MB: What could politicians around the province, around the world learn from you? Why should the world pay attention to Inuit governance?

RS: The Inuit are a humble people. Growing up Inuit is a hard way of life. We’ve had to learn how to adapt and be resilient, have had to learn just to live. There’s so many struggles, traumas that Inuit people have lived through and experienced in the last hundreds of years. I believe we are equipped to deal with whatever is thrown at us because of those resiliencies. For me, governance is about the people. The government wouldn’t be a government without the people. To me, that’s important and I think focusing my work within the government on the community will be successful because we have been focusing on so many outside things that the people have been forgotten.

Elected officials are here because of the people and we can’t lose sight of that once elected. I am going to have to remind myself about that, about why I’m here. People think that Inuit are not a very vocal people, but we know that the most important thing is to listen. To listen with your heart, not only with your ears. Anyone could listen with their ears. We may not say a lot but when we do, it is meaningful. I think we can bring a unique perspective to policy conversations. We really stop and think— what are the pros and cons. How will it benefit the people? Too many rash decisions are being made around the world. With policy, you have to slow down, and really think about things.

When you do things formally you don’t get as much done as when you do things informally. Decision-making is done by having conversations, like in the old days.

MB: What was the highlight of your campaign?

RS: Going door to door and connecting with people.

MB: What perspective do you bring to the table?

RS: The concerns that the people brought forward during canvassing. I’m not here for me, for my agenda. A platform should be based on doing what the people would like to see improved upon or even worked on at all. In their eyes it hasn’t always been done, or they haven’t been heard.

MB: How do you make decisions?

RS: I start from considering the most vulnerable people first. You know who they are. Nobody goes to see them but they are my people, I grew up like that. My main reason for running is that vulnerable people are left out. Nobody hears from them, nobody makes them a priority. For me they need to be made a priority, they’re people too. Those who don’t have their basic needs met are stuck, they’re going to stay the same because nobody is helping them. Our people deal with multiple traumas on a daily basis and it’s so hard to deal with it and break the cycle. I know where they’re coming from, I know what they’re going through. It takes a lot for people to say I need help, because they’re going to have to live through it again. We don’t have the necessary help here, DHSD does an awesome job but we still have generations of trauma to sort through and it’s ongoing.

MB: What’s the biggest issue facing Hopedale right now?

RS: Lack of land for housing development. The area of Hopedale is all rock—we have exhausted our areas of where can build homes. Developers have tried to build on bog land but the foundations are not stable, the walls and windows are cracking. The only available option is to blast through the rock walls. Hidden homelessness is a huge problem here. Our housing issue goes back to 1959 with the relocation of people from Hebron. My grandfather had to take materials from the American Base to build a makeshift shack for housing when they were relocated here in 1959. My grandparents raised me. We’re still in the housing crisis today 60 years later. Something has got to be done.

MB: What does hidden homelessness look like in Hopedale?

RS: It ties into overcrowding. We often have up to 3 full families living in a 3-4 bedroom home. Parents have grown children, those children have children. Several generations of the same family live together. This is hidden homelessness—there is nowhere for young, single men to go, for example. They have no choice but to stay in parents homes, or even strangers’ homes. They stay on couches or if they’re lucky enough to have their own room somewhere—a person can only take in someone for so long and then they have to move on. We did a needs assessment in 2014 and there are about 50 people experiencing invisible homelessness in the region.

MB: What are some pieces of advice you would give to someone running a campaign on the North Coast?

RS: Seek advice from an Elder advisor, a mentor. Mine is Sarah Ponniuk. Because we are Inuit, and Nunatsiavut government is for Inuit people, a lot of traditional customs and practices have been forgotten. I wanted to go back to a previous time and start my campaign from a traditional Inuit way. Before we had the NG, we had Elder council and an AngajukKak who travelled the coast and talked to the people, and governed through consensus building. People want to know who they’re electing. Relationship building is the basis of everything you do. Building relationships with the community is key to running a successful campaign and getting those votes.

There are more women running now which is great, in the past it was mostly men around the table. We now need the younger generation to step up and take a lead role in politics. I would encourage people to go out and get an education, to take youth out to see the world and make more opportunities so that they are not as homesick when they go out for school.

Tracy Ann Evans-Rice is the Status of Women Coordinator with the Nunatsiavut Government and lives in Makkovik, Labrador. Charlotte Wolfrey, a colleague in Rigolet, saw a need for more women in politics and successfully pitched a project that would see facilitators work with women in community to develop their skills and encourage their participation in the political sphere. Evans-Rice loved the idea and ran with the project. They called on Maggie Burton and Caitlin Urquhart to facilitate.

Maggie Burton is a St. John’s City Councillor and professional leadership and management coach. She leveraged her experience working with high level executives and as a successful first-time politician in 2017 to help women identify their strengths, build confidence and develop skills plans. Caitlin Urquhart is a St. John’s lawyer, board member of the St. John’s Status of Women Council, and managed Burton’s campaign in 2017. She brought practical advice and drew on participants experiences to identify and plan how to run a winning campaign as a candidate or campaign team volunteer.

Together Burton and Urquhart hope to continue to work with Inuit women, youth and other persons from underrepresented communities to increase the diversity of perspectives around decision-making tables throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

For Immediate Release: PANSOW statement on MHA attendance at celebration of Eddie Joyce

Everyone loves a celebration. However, the Provincial Action Network of the Status of Women (PANSOW) must question the timing of the recent celebration of MHA Eddie Joyce’s 25 years of public service in politics. Mr. Joyce is currently under investigation by the Commissioner for Legislative Standards amid allegations of harassment and bullying. Mr. Joyce, while still the MHA for Humber-Bay of Islands, has been placed on an indefinite leave of absence from the House of Assembly as the investigation continues.

We are concerned for the message that this sends to the public, especially considering the anti-harassment training all MHAs recently completed. Harassment is a form of violence which violates respectful workplace policies. It is imperative that leaders recognize the damaging effects that workplace violence can have on their employees. This celebration and the attendance by four Liberal MHAs sends the message to the women who came forward that they do not matter. It does not present an image of respect for the process currently taking place within the House regarding this issue.

We call on the MHAs, Gerry Byrne, John Finn, Scott Reid, and Jerry Dean to acknowledge this and to undertake further training to better understand the impacts of violence in the workplace.

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Media Contacts

Janice Kennedy
Executive Director
Bay St. George Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.643.4444
executivedirector.bsgswc@gmail.com

Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.