Editor’s note: Last week, we brought you one activist’s recommendations for women fighting back against the cuts to Status of Women Canada (SWC). Today, we present the story of how women in the North âe” a region of the country that’s too often off our radar âe” are coping with the Harper government’s policies.

The Yukon Status of Women Council has weathered many storms over the past 30 odd years of our existence. We’re used to rough weather in the North.

However, the last storm blown in from the South threatened to topple us. The cuts to SWC and the changes in their funding guidelines have had a profound negative impact on women’s organizations in the Yukon.

It all boils down to economics. Women’s organizations need funding to keep our doors open, to work on behalf of those who cannot do so by themselves, and to keep women’s issues in the public eye and in the ears of those in a position to change policies that have a direct impact on women’s daily lives.

This is the same for both organizations in the North and South. What is different is that there are fewer funding resources in the Yukon, and in the North as a whole. Yukon women’s organizations are not operating on a level playing field with their counterparts elsewhere in the country. There are few corporations or alternate sources of funding. The Yukon Status of Women Council is advocacy and research based, believing in systemic change for the good of all. We are not eligible for charitable status, and we know that donors prefer organizations that can issue tax receipts.

Another important difference is that Yukon women are 2.9 times more likely to experience sexual abuse and be killed by a spouse than women in the South. The income gap is widening and poverty in the Yukon is increasing. Women and children’s homelessness is increasing in an unforgiving and hostile environment. Isolation, a harsh climate, lack of resources, a high cost of living, a high rate of social issues, limited opportunities for employment, the legacy of residential schools and colonization âe” all of these things are our facts of life.

So what are we doing? We have cut staff hours, cut staff, canceled programs, and been forced to offer wages that are too low to attract qualified people. Some of us have closed our doors.

We have tried to be creative in our fundraising efforts. We resort to bake sales, garage sales, anything to bring in needed cash. We spend hours trying to unravel the bureaucratic language and processes now required to apply for funding from SWC.

We stand in line with women’s organizations in the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as we all wait for assistance from the only SWC project officer west of Ontario.

We try not to lose the solidarity amongst ourselves in the competition for funds. Yukon women’s organizations are pulling together to weather the storms, and to help each other however we can. Which reminds me, I’m supposed to be pricing items for the Women’s Centre garage sale.