Here’s a fun report on the G-7 conference going on in Iqaluit, capital of the Inuit territory of Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost territory. Jane Wardell of the Associated Press covered it, and thank heavens she wrote about more than the official discussions. Here’s her report:
Canadian Inuit dogs pull a sled using traditional harnesses in Iqaluit on Baffin Island. The G-7 finance ministers met in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, this past weekend. (AP photo/Ron Gillies)
Giulio Tremonti, Italian Minister of Economy and Finance, left, rides a dogsled on the outskirts of the northern Canadian Arctic community of Iqaluit, Nunavut over the weekend. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Fred Chartrand)
IQALUIT, Nunavut (AP) — Finance officials are taking a break in talks about the world’s economic woes to listen to a different tune.
But Inuit folk singer Lucie Idlout’s music comes with a serious message — and a challenge. Her song, “Lovely Irene,” inspired Iqaluit Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik to launch a campaign to stamp out domestic violence in Nunavut, Canada’s most northern territory.
Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital with just 7,000 people, has the highest rate of domestic violence per capita for any city in Canada — a fact that Sheutiapik is determined to change. She has renamed a street in the town that houses the only women’s shelter in the territory “Angel Street” and is now taking her campaign global.
She’s challenging finance ministers from the Group of Seven to create an “Angel Street” of their own in their countries in solidarity with her cause.
Sheutiapik argues that tackling an issue that was taboo in her childhood — “I used to see women with black eyes and I wasn’t supposed to talk about it” — is just as vital to economic development in Nunavut and the world as addressing big bank failures.
Sheutiapik also has another message for potentially squeamish G-7 ministers — “You won’t know if you like it unless you try it.”
The promotion of seal meat products on the sidelines of the meeting here is sending a message to the world after the European Union banned the import of seal products on humane grounds.
Canada argues that seal-hunting is humane and provides income for isolated communities like Iqaluit. Sheutiapik points out that seal meat is still a staple for many families in this isolated outpost.
“If there was no seal, I wouldn’t be standing here,” she said. “That’s what my grandfather survived on. There was no beef here.”
Canada’s governor general Michaelle Jean caused an international stir last year by gutting a seal and swallowing a raw slice of the mammal’s heart.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and British Treasury chief Alistair Darling are among the officials sidestepping any potential controversy by skipping an Inuit “community feast,” which will feature seal meat, planned for after the close of talks on Saturday night.
“That’s unfortunate,” said Sheutiapik, who doesn’t buy the excuse that they are busy men who must return to world affairs: “They have to eat.”