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Better supports needed for young victims of sexual assault, MLAs say

Iqaluit MLAs Pat Angnakak and Adam Arreak Lightstone insist that the GN must improve protections and counselling available to child victims of sexual assault.

It’s “utterly unacceptable” that Nunavut’s Representative for Children and Youth found that “child sexual abuse has been normalized for Inuit children,” says Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak.
photo courtesy of the legislative assembly

Angnakak pointed out that there’s a discrepancy in the known number of sexual offenders in the territory, with the justice minister recently estimating the figure is more than 200 while the annual report from Nunavut’s Representative for Children and Youth pegged the number at closer to 440.

She also cited the Representative for Children and Youth’s statement that “child sexual abuse has been normalized for Inuit children.”

“This is utterly unacceptable,” said Angnakak, who urged the justice minister to take immediate action.

Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak replied, “Working with the Department of Family Services, we’re always looking at ways to help individuals, especially children and their families, to ensure that their health and safety is priority one. I can assure that we will be discussing further how much more we can do for these vulnerable children.”

Arreak Lightstone picked up on the same line of questioning and asked Ehaloak to detail what further research her department has done relating to a Greenlandic strategy to reduce child sexual abuse.

“The strategy indicates how important it is for the victims of child sexual abuse to receive appropriate long-term treatment, as the strategy had indicated that a number of predators had once been victims themselves, which long-term therapy is required for victims to ensure that they don’t themselves become perpetrators,” Arreak Lightstone explained.

Ehaloak admitted that she hasn’t had a chance to explore the Greenlandic approach due to disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic and a change in her deputy minister position, “but we will be reviewing it.”

She added that she wishes to see programming to rehabilitate sexual offenders available through the new correctional centre in Iqaluit, which is under construction and will be formally known as the Aaqqigiarvik Correctional Healing Facility.

“I’m hopeful… we can move forward so that victims and abusers can get the programming that they need so that they don’t have to reoffend,” said Ehaloak.