For those who do not know the meaning of Saturviit, the root word, satuq, means “regaining what one had lost”. Saturviit is in the plural and thus signifies “those who regain what was lost” symbolizing hope of a return of those aspects of our culture that we may think lost, a return of the Inuit way of doing things and the pride in Inuit identity.
Saturviit is the women’s association working to improve access to social, economic, and health services in Nunavik as well as urban centres like Montreal. We are dedicated to empowering Inuit women and helping them fulfill themselves on every level of their life. On this second annual Truth and Reconciliation Day, Saturviit would like to, first, celebrate the resilient Indigenous women and youth living in the Canadian North, and the strength they show daily while facing many barriers and challenges.
Saturviit would also like to take this moment to call on our political leaders to consider the ways they can help us to concretely improve the lives of Inuit and Indigenous women, not just on this national holiday, but also all year long. Specifically, throughout Quebec, we know firsthand how policy changes can have an impact to further truth and reconciliation in our communities.
As a matter of fact, many women who must leave their communities for surgeries, cancer treatment, complicated pregnancies and other necessary or specialized health reasons, get lost in the cracks of bureaucracy and policies that are new to them in an environment very different from their communities.
As an example, this summer, over a one-month span, three women travelling from Nunavik to Montreal for medical reasons were struck by vehicles in between their flight’s arrival, appointments, and departure. We continuously witness the gaps in services and resource availability which are impacting the lives of far too many Nunavik women.
These are our sisters, our mothers and our friends. We see the complications, the loss and the pain but we can’t help them without support from others. For that reason, we call on our leaders, to work in partnership with communities and encourage culturally-specific and traditional solutions to put an end to these issues.
Truth and Reconciliation is also about learning to know each other. In that way, it is important to recognize that there is a culture shock when moving or travelling from the North to the South, in the same way one might feel overwhelmed accessing health services or attending a university in another country in, often, another language and cultural system.
Finally, this celebration is an opportunity to start talking about success stories of projects, social initiatives and the benefit from cultural knowledge. Northern communities’ potential is real, and we must take actions to enhance their confidence. To do so, organizations like ours, need constant and reliable funding to ensure the realisation of lifelong projects.
Today, as we both mourn and celebrate, knowing the strength and power of women in Nunavik, throughout Inuit Nunangat, and the South, we ask political leaders, from federal, provincial and regional government to support us more adequately in these plans to close gaps in social infrastructure and the culturally-specific solutions we know would guarantee a better tomorrow for those in need. Considering the gravity of the consequences women are facing, we cannot allow any further waiting to achieve this equity.
Saturviit is pleased to announce the appointment of 6 new board members, and 2 reappointed board members, who will each help support Saturviit’s work and represent the well-being of Inuit women regionally, provincially, and nationally. The new Board of Directors began their three-year term effective October 23, 2021. The Board members are:
Annie Angantuk, President, Hudson Straight representative
Kaudjak Padlayat, Vice President, Out of Territory representative
Trina Qumaluk, 2nd Vice President, Hudson Representative
Phebe Bentley, Executive Treasurer, Out of Territory Representative
Jessica Tooma, Executive Secretary, Ungava Representative
Margaret Tukkiapik, Ungava Representative
Lizzie Calvin, Hudson Representative
Annie Tertiluk, Hudson Strait Representative
Congratulations to the new Board Members. We would also like to thank the previous Board members: Winifred Nungak, Anna Ohaituk, Annie Nulukie, Annie Ittoshat and Louisa Arnamitsak for their role with the Saturviit Association and dedication to serving and representing the JBNQA Inuit women beneficiaries.
Sarah is a very talented seamstress, mother of four and an up-and-coming entrepreneur. She has been showcased as a seamstress to represent Nunavik both nationally and internationally. Her first project, which garnered international attention, was with the second edition of the Canada Goose Project Atigi where she was a participating designer of a one-of-a-kind atigik.
Sarah was then selected to be the Nunavik representative for the Red Amauti Project where she was to design a Nunavik style amautik to raise awareness and honour MMIWG. She also designs parkas for local organizations.
When Sarah is not busy sewing, she is busy planning her own upcoming business. She is currently in the development phase of opening a coffee house in Inukjuak. This will be the first of its kind in her community, which is set to open sometime this year. We wish her the best of luck in her endeavours.
Community Project Funding Program
Saturviit has a funding program available up to $3000 to each Nunavik community, including Inuit communities in Southern Quebec. The actions of the community projects should be designed to make women’s lives better; be culturally relevant raise awareness, promote equality between women and men, encourage healthy lifestyles or other positive actions.
Once an essential tool for survival, providing heat and a source of light in the long, dark, arctic winters, today, qulliit are lit at special events, opening ceremonies and personal days of significance. International Inuit Day is a perfect time to tend to my qulliq and think about what it means to be Inuk. To reflect upon our past, present, and future. As I reach for my little qulliq, I notice its weight and how it is cold to the touch, to the point where it sends shivers down my spine. I remember sivullivinivut (our ancestors), who lived in one of the harshest climates on Earth. They endured pain and suffering by the hands of government officials, the church, the police, and the Hudson Bay company’s trading posts, to name a few. Parts of our history are very dark, cold, and heavy—just like my qulliq. But there is so much more to us that we refuse to let that define us. To light the qulliq, we use maniq, a blend of hand-picked arctic cotton and moss, harvested from the Nuna (land) in the summer months. We often use vegetable oil as an alternative to the seal oil that was traditionally used to fuel our lamps. These elements remind me of the work we do daily in our communities to ensure the safety of our people. From educators, healthcare workers, labourers, managers, municipal workers, regional employees, and beyond, we were forced into a new way of life. But we have adapted and continue to learn and grow. We have so much to be proud of; upigusuutitsaqarqugut as we say in Inuktitut. We have come such a long way in such a short period of time. Once you light the qulliq, you notice the mesmerizing flames, at once equally beautiful as warm and bright. Inuit are all of these things and more. From a feast of niqituinnaq (or country food) on the floor and the laughter we share, to the competitive spirit we encompass and our artistic talents, our sense of community is woven into all that we do. As well, the traditional knowledge we pass down, our language, perseverance, our beautiful markings on our body that we are reviving, our clothing, our stories, our elders, and our land—we have so much beauty, all around us to celebrate on International Inuit Day. Like the qulliq whose flames extinguish if you do not tend to it, we need to remember to take care of ourselves and each other. Be kind to one another, lift each other up, and offer love, support and understanding. We can thrive and prosper, continuing to adapt and grow. We will be the light and warmth within our communities—for ourselves today and for our children and our grandchildren of tomorrow.