Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavik February 12, 2018 - 1:30 pm

Nunavik delegates praise national Indigenous child welfare meeting

“It’s a Canada-wide problem that has to be dealt with"

SARAH ROGERS
Nunavik has already made strides to negotiate and develop its own made-at-home youth protection services. Leaders from the region say they felt encouraged by a recent meeting hosted by the federal government on how to reduce the number of Indigenous children taken into care. (FILE PHOTO)
Nunavik has already made strides to negotiate and develop its own made-at-home youth protection services. Leaders from the region say they felt encouraged by a recent meeting hosted by the federal government on how to reduce the number of Indigenous children taken into care. (FILE PHOTO)

A January meeting held to address the high number of Indigenous children taken into care reveals the federal government’s willingness to reform the system, say Nunavik delegates who attended.

Last month, the federal minister of Indigenous services, Jane Philpott, met with Indigenous leaders in Ottawa to discuss a longstanding crisis: the over-representation of Inuit, Métis and First Nations children in youth protection.

Nunavik’s leaders have flagged the issue as a priority in the region, where last year more than 2,000 Nunavimmiut were “signalled” to authorities—an indication that a child may be in danger.

The event, dubbed Children and Families Together, resulted in six action points the federal government has pledged to work towards, including culturally-appropriate services and a shift to early intervention and prevention.

“It felt like they opened a window to solutions,” said Makivik Corp.’s Adamie Delisle Alaku, who led Nunavik’s delegation at the event.

In fact, the region has already made strides to negotiate and develop its own made-at-home youth protection services.

That’s possible thanks to new changes to Quebec’s youth protection act, which now allow the province to enter into agreements with Indigenous communities to design and manage their own programs.

Mina Beaulne, an advisor with the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, is leading that initiative.

“It’s a Canada-wide problem that has to be dealt with,” said Beaulne, reflecting on what she heard at Children and Families Together.

“It gave us more hope that the government is aware and they’re willing to work on this.”

Beaulne said the event also offered a chance to meet with other Inuit and First Nations groups who are working through the same process.

In Quebec, the Atikamekw First Nation north of Montreal just signed an agreement with the province to manage their own youth protection services, which rely on family and community intervention rather than a legal approach. The agreement is a first in Canada.

“They were very open to discussion about what they’ve done—they’ve been working on this for the last 20 years,” Beaulne said.

“We feel like it will be shorter for us because we only have to work with the Quebec government (and not the federal government),” she added, noting federal support for policy change is still crucial.

In Nunavik, Beaulne has launched the process with the help of a working group made up of representatives from each of Nunavik’s major organizations.

In December the group held its first meeting, which served mainly as an information session so members could become familiar with Quebec’s legislation.

The group will meet again at the end of February in Puvirnituq, Beaulne said, at which point they’ll begin to plan for the focus groups they hope to host throughout the region this spring.

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(1) Comments:

#1. Posted by Missing the point on February 16, 2018

People, inuit , you are not getting it. It has little to do with the fact that kids are taken away. Yes, Off course that’s terrible. But it’s about how children are treated in the first place. Put the money and effort into learning to be a good human being and care for your children. Stop the alcohol and and drug abuse in the communities. No bad intentions are done when kids are taken away from abusive homes. This meeting is a joke, because the sore of the problem will remain. There you have it, two groups of people discussing issues of which, the blind leads the blind over the cliff. Little children continue to suffer.

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