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explore: A Place to Run To
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In the town of Iqaluit in the far north of Canada, domestic violence is a serious problem. But Arctic women are supporting each other at Qimaavik, a safe haven for abused women and children. Through peer support and counseling, they are rebuilding their self-esteem and healing wounded spirits.

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Produced by explore.

Learn more about the City of Iqaluit.

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Segment 1

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explore.org
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The mission of explore is to champion the selfless acts of others.
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explore traveled to the Arctic on a philanthropic fact-finding mission to uncover the current issues facing the Intuit people.
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A place to run to ...
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Canada, Nunavut, capital city Iqaluit
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN [Founder, explore]
I'm Charles Annenberg Weingarten. I'm in the Arctic with my explore team, to learn and to gather information about people and organizations making a positive difference throughout this region. The Arctic communities face many unique challenges. But even those issues we are familiar with are often magnified in this part of the world. Some of what I discovered was hard to hear. What's the most difficult aspect of living up here in the Arctic?
MARY ELLEN THOMAS [Executive Director, Iqaluit Research Institute]
For me personally, it's the heartbreak of the social conditions. Of seeing children who don't graduate, women who are being abused, people with huge addiction problems. That's the hard thing.
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In a recent survey, the Nunavut territory in the Arctic had a violent crime rate eight times that of Canada overall. This statistic covers only crimes reported. Ninety percent of the victims were women.
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Abuse is wrong in any language.
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Stop the violence.
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Qimaavik Women's Shelter, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
Hi, nice to meet you.
NAPATCHIE MCRAE [Executive Director, Qimaavik Women's Shelter]
Nice to meet you, too. We home at least 300 to 400 women a year. This is the only shelter in Nunavut that operates 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
What is the name of the organization?
NAPATCHIE MCRAE
Qimaavik. It's an Inuktitut name, and it's called, "A place to run to." It's to home the women and children that are fleeing violence, either from their partners or from their family members.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
In Iqaluit, the capital of the recently established Nunavut territory, I met with scholars and scientists who spoke to the issues facing this area. Issues that can manifest in domestic abuse.
MARY ELLEN THOMAS
Urbanization occurs everywhere in the world. Though it's only 6,500 people, it's still an Arctic urban environment. Iqaluit is where the government is, Iqaluit is where there is some private industry, Iqaluit is where things are happening, so the best and brightest, the most educated, come from some of those communities to take jobs here in our community. So you have those folks who don't have an education here, who aren't getting the jobs, so you have that kind of conflict going on. And so it's like everywhere where there's urbanization.
RICK ARMSTRONG [Scientific Support Manager, Iqaluit Research Institute]
It's difficult for people to get housing here. There's a limited amount of public housing here, and there are long lists of people trying to get into this public housing. So, where do they go? They move in with relatives and, before long, there are problems resulting from too many people living in a house. That's probably one of the areas that really, really needs attention here.
ELISAPEE SHEUTIAPIK [Mayor of Iqaluit]
There's a huge impact when it comes to overcrowding. Social problems, usually families are overcrowded, sometimes two to three generations live in a home. For me, the biggest challenge is bringing the spirit up.
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Iqaluit visitors seminar.
ELISAPEE SHEUTIAPIK
I think there was a high expectation when we became a territory. The common folk thought they were going to really benefit and they haven't. Trying to build up their self-esteem, confidence. And it's ... In Iqaluit, for instance, a lot of them are feeling kinda left out, because they don't have the education.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
What is the relationship of drugs and alcohol with domestic violence?
NAPATCHIE MCRAE
Seventy per cent of abuse is related to alcohol and drugs. Thirty per cent will be like due to lack of employment being available, and the other one would be the abuser was either abused when they were growing up, or they have seen the abuse. It is a cycle. This is where we want to be able to help the children to break that link, to break that cycle.
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What you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.
NAPATCHIE MCRAE
Some of these women that come here don't have self-esteem anymore. They don't know where to begin anymore. It's not just physical anymore, it's emotional.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
What does the center do to help people heal?
NAPATCHIE MCRAE
We have two peer counselors who'll be seeing clients at least twice a week.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
Do you counsel the abusers?
NAPATCHIE MCRAE
That's the problem with the shelters, is that that's not part of our mandate, to be talking with the abuser. For several reasons -- one of our issues here is that we don't have a male counselor here, we don't have the funding to help the abuser to heal at the same time. I think if they make the healing a mandatory thing, I think the men would seek more help.
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Most abusers in Nunavut receive one day in jail or less.
NAPATCHIE MCRAE
The biggest challenge running this shelter is dealing with children that have witnessed violence. For one thing, we don't have a child psychologist here, or a person to work with children only, because of the funding.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
How does this center receive its funding?
NAPATCHIE MCRAE
We get our contribution from the government of Nunavut, from the Department of Health and Social Services. But it's a very limited contribution we get from them, and a lot of stuff that we need to purchase, we have to do some fundraising or depend on donations we receive. A lot of this stuff that we have in here is donated. My dream for this center is to help all these women to get their self-esteem back and to be able to seek employment, to be able to talk to their partners to seek help for themselves too.
ELISAPEE SHEUTIAPIK
I went to speak to the Ministers of the Status of Women. We went through a process of naming the road to Qimaavik "Angel Street."
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Iqaluit singer Lucie Idlout wrote "Angel Street" in honor of her friend Irene, a victim of domestic violence. Mayor Sheutiapik is now asking all Canadian provinces to recognize the victims of domestic abuse by naming a local road Angel Street.
LUCIE IDLOUT
Broken down on Angel Street / He pushed you down / Made you unseen / Irene / High heels on a gravel road / Irene
NAPATCHIE MCRAE
I've seen several women move ahead with their life. Some have gotten jobs as social workers, they go to their education. Some have gone through nursing programs, and some have said, "Okay, I'm a strong person, I'm going to go and live by myself, and find myself a job." Us woman suffer the same things, regardless of who we are.
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Nunavummiut are working together ... to end violence against women.
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explore.org -- never stop learning ...
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With the support of the Annenberg Foundation, explore has made funding possible to: The City of Iqaluit Qimaavik Women's Shelter.
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To learn more: www.city.iqaluit.nu.ca
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[end credits]