“When our Inuit male leaders travel with their female staff, they think it’s a benefit and a perk that they can actually sexually harass, sexually assault or have relationships with women on the road“,
Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern told the House of Commons’ Status of Women committee about barriers for women in politics at a Sept. 26 meeting in Ottawa.
“The mayor said she has received backlash for her comments, so she tweeted out a clarification email, sent to the committee, ensuring it was understood that she meant some, not all, Inuit male leaders.
“Of course, I know that not all our Inuit leaders are sexual predators. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would naturally presume that I meant ‘all’,”
Redfern told CBC News.
“The backlash included messages calling for her to be investigated, she said.
“I don’t even name names and I get attacked, viciously“,
“Death threats because I’ve spoken out.”
“Her post on Facebook received dozens of positive comments, including some from women who said they had similar experiences with male Inuit leaders…
“Redfern says she’s heard from women who have experienced everything from unwanted invitations, to touching and groping to rape, while on work trips.
“It’s not only happened to me; I’ve known it to happen to dozens and dozens of women“,
“You’re away from your support network, you’re away from your spouse. You’re very vulnerable in a community that is not home.
“Often it happens after meetings late at night, and you find yourself sort of cornered or pinned and you have to rebuff this, and if you’re lucky you can forcibly say no or you can escape. Not everyone has that opportunity, though.”
“Redfern has worked with non-profits and Inuit organizations in both Ottawa and Iqaluit, and is currently the president of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities.
She says many leaders and managers in Nunavut feel workplace harassment rules don’t apply while outside the four walls of the office…
“Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq says he disagrees with Redfern’s comments about work travel, which he called negative and a “blanket statement“.
“It’s bad to say that“,
“He said it’s possible the issues Redfern spoke about do exist, but he’s not aware of them within the Government of Nunavut (GN)…
“When asked by CBC News if he was aware of any risks or challenges that women might face in reporting workplace harassment, Savikataaq said there were none, or there shouldn’t be…
“The president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, P.J. Akeeagok, also said he was unaware of any issues until Redfern’s statement…”
–‘Iqaluit mayor faces backlash after calling out some male Inuit leaders as sexual predators’,
Sara Frizzell, CBC News, Oct. 10, 2018
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