Clarice Leota Hardy

Clarice Leota Hardy and her dog Marley. Photo courtesy Victoria McKenzie

An Inupiaq Eskimo woman from Nome will receive the Gratitude Award from the Alaska nonprofit Women Who Dared. She is being honored for her courage in speaking out against sexual assault.

The official presentation to Clarice Leota Hardy is yet to be scheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the official announcement was revealed this month. She is the fifth woman to receive the award, first given in 2015. The award recognizes exceptional women who have taken risks to further equal opportunities for women in a broad range of areas.

“We believe that by giving attention to women who have taken risks, which has furthered the advancement of equal opportunity and status for women, we are encouraging the elimination of prejudice and discrimination,” according to the Women Who Dared website.

Hardy is a former dispatcher for the Nome Police Department. In March 2017, she reported her sexual assault to the Nome Police Department. She filed reports, asked questions and then publicly shared her story when Nome police allegedly failed to fully investigate her case.

In February 2020, with the support of the ACLU of Alaska, she filed a lawsuit against the city of Nome in the U.S. District Court of Alaska, for failing to investigate her sexual assault claim. Her aim was to seek justice, according to Women Who Dared.

Women Who Dared provided this background: “Over the past decade, reported sexual assaults in Nome have been six times the national average. “

Hardy’s lawsuit claims her assault and others have not been investigated by the police department.

“This has resulted in victims’ reluctance to report an assault if their perpetrator (who often continues to live in the community) suffers no consequence. With a lack of justice for victims, the cycle of sexual violence has become way too common and accepted by some as a cultural norm,” according to Women Who Dared.

“We are proud to honor Ms. Hardy for taking personal risks that advance the equal opportunity and status of women,” said Diann Darnall, president of Women Who Dared. “Ms. Hardy is a positive role model for women. In spite of continued stress and frustration, she has encouraged others to speak out, demand equal justice for all under the law, and forge a path to a more equitable world.”

Previous winners include Linda Moffitt (Title IX advocate), Mary Shields (first woman to finish the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race), Kelly Martin (testified to Congress about sexual discrimination in the National Park Service), and Jean Sanford Replinger (founder of the first Outward Bound program for women). Read all their stories at www.womenwhodared.org.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

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Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.