Last Updated: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 | 12:20 PM ET
Inuit leaders, policy makers and health-care officials from across Canada’s North are in Iqaluit this week for a first-ever national conference on sexual health.
The National Inuit Policy Forum on Sexual Health, hosted by Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, brings together delegates from Nunavut, the Nunavik in northern Quebec, the Nunatsiavut in Labrador and the Inuivialuit from the Northwest Territories.
Pauktuutit has brought to the forum 25 years of information it has compiled on Inuit health issues — information that president Rhoda Innuksuk says she hopes delegates will use in their home communities.
“There’s a lot of really serious issues in every community right now, regarding sexuality and unmarried couples having children, and young kids having children without their parents or without the help of their grandparents,” Innuksuk told CBC News on Tuesday.
“So what I hope to do is that we will be able to bring more understanding, in depth, as to what our lives are all about. I hope that they will be able to start planning, start thinking about planning for themselves and their own future.”
The three-day conference kicked off Tuesday with opening remarks by Nunavut Premier Eva AAriak, who told delegates that her government promotes healthy living and leading healthy lives.
“Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to develop healthy sexuality as a fulfilling and affirming aspect of life,” Aariak told delegates.
Aariak said the Nunavut government’s commitment to promoting sexual and reproductive health is important and ongoing work.
During the conference, Pauktuutit will also solicit input from a range of experts for a five-year organizational strategic plan.
The National Inuit Policy Forum on Sexual Health continues through Thursday at the Navigator Inn.