Lighting the way
Qulliit a more inclusive council

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Feb 21/00) - In just three short days, the body legislated to represent women in Nunavut accomplished what takes many organizations months to achieve.

Including coming up with a new, more inclusive name for themselves -- often the most difficult task facing many groups -- the body of women formerly known as the Nunavut Status of Women Council managed to review their governing Act and set a series of goals.

"It went as well as I thought it would go for the first time the council met," said Geela Giroux, the senior advisor on women's issues to the Government of Nunavut.

Hired to oversee the organization and to convey any and all issues of importance to women to the GN, Giroux, who played a key role in the first meeting held recently in Iqaluit, said having a group eager to create a Nunavut-specific council helped maintain the productive pace of the meeting.

The first point of order, Giroux said, was to find a name they felt represented their mandate.

"They felt it had to be changed in order for people in Nunavut to change their views. The council members felt it was a threat to men to be saying 'women, women, women' all the time," said Giroux.

Enter Qulliit -- the new name, which is the plural of qulliq, the lamp traditionally used by Inuit for heat and cooking.

"Look at it this way. Both the man and the woman have a role in maintaining the qulliq. The man makes it and gets the seal blubber and the woman fixes the flames to provide warmth and cooking. It really explains their roles," said Giroux.

That inclusive outlook also extended beyond their new title. Giroux said from the outset, Qulliit wanted to develop a spirit of co-operation that would lend itself to healing the whole family.

"Equality is something they really believe in and in order to get better support from men, they have to include them. That's where equality will come in," explained Giroux.

That, she added, meant establishing more healing programs for men to ensure methods of ending domestic violence in Nunavut were strongly addressed.

The council also elected their executive, discussed financial matters and requested to extend their interim positions to February of 2001.

Giroux also said the council was planning a strong public awareness campaign to encourage support from Nunavummiut.