“They want to make sure that their children are cared for”
KUUJJUAQ — Consultations with Inuit women across Nunavik earlier this year found that — not surprisingly — they face the same barriers to seeking and securing employment in the mining sector as other Aboriginal women around the world.
And one of those challenges is balancing work with home and family life in a job that demands that workers be away from home for extended periods of time.
Over the last year, the Kativik Regional Government has worked alongside the region’s Kautaapikkut mining roundtable, a body launched last year to encourage Inuit employment in Nunavik’s mines and mor specifically, to look at the under-employment of women.
Together men and women make up 15 per cent of all Nunavimmiut working at the region’s two mines.
But fewer than half of all Inuit working at the region’s two operating mines are women; about 44 per cent at Glencore Raglan’s nickel operation, and about 20 per cent at Canadian Royalties’ Nunavik Nickel.
Cynthia Cookie-Simard, an Inuit employment and training officer with Canadian Royalties, travelled through Nunavik last winter to meet with Inuit women.
She and colleagues in the mining industry asked women what keeps them from working at the mines, Cookie-Simard told the KRG regional councillors meeting in Kuujjuaq Sept. 15.
“The main barrier that came up… was the importance of family and children, and the need to stay at home,” she said. “They want to make sure that their children are cared for. They want to be with their family and their spouse.”
With a two-week on, two-week off schedule, parents must struggle to maintain a stable home life which often involves finding childcare, and sometimes after-hours care.
Rob Nixon, who chairs the Kautaapikkut roundtable, said the group has looked at best practices in mines around the world that employ Indigenous women.
Regarding conditions at mines in Australia, Alaska and elsewhere in Canada, women had identified childcare and what they called a lack of flexible scheduling as a major barrier to employment, he said.
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