Youth protection is an important issue for people in Nunavik. The Ungava Tulattavik Health Center submitted a document explaining the purpose of the Ungava Bay Youth Protection Services and how it helps vulnerable children, which is printed here. In an effort to further inform Nunavimmiut about what is happening and available, Makivik’s legal team has provided a briefing note on Sukait, prepared in collaboration with Nunavimmi Ilagiit Papatauvinga (NIP), which presented it to the All Organizations Meeting this past winter, as well as an information sheet about the state of things surrounding the contestation of Bill C-92.
The Youth Protection Act (YPA) of Quebec presides over the Direction of Youth Protection. It is therefore a provincial law that governs the actions of all of the 18 Directors of Youth Protection throughout Quebec.
The Ungava Bay’s Youth Protection Direction is composed of five 5 major services:
1) Retaining and Processing of Reports (RTS) and Evaluation Orientation Service (EO)
2) Services of the Application of Measures (AM)
3) Revision services
4) Resource Department (Foster Home and others)
5) Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) / YCJA Law Department
1) Retaining and Processing of Reports (RTS) and Evaluation Orientation Service (EO)
a) The Retaining and Processing of Reports Service (RTS) receives and processes the reports received from the general public, health care professionals, schools, police services or anyone that is concerned and/or worried about a child’s situation.
Each report is processed and analyzed in accordance with Article 38 of the YPA. Before retaining a report, the Director of Youth Protections can authorize verification within the environment of the child. If the situation does not compromise the safety and development of the child, the DYP can refer to Social Services and Community Organizations.
The clinical activity specialist and the Head of Program (RTS/EO) discuss every report received. The Head of Program then decides whether to retain a report or not.
b) The Evaluation-Orientation Service (EO) evaluates the retained reports received from the RTS Service following the guidelines of the Youth Protection Act. This team has the mandate of meeting with the child, the parents, the family if necessary and/or the various actors who play an important role in the life of the child and his/her family.
After evaluation, it is possible that the report is unfounded and does not require the intervention of the Director of Youth Protection (DYP). The file is then closed.
If the intervention of the Director of Youth Protection
(DYP) is necessary and the security and the development of the child are compromised, two options are possible:
i) If there is a recognition of facts and a desire to improve the situation, the parents can sign an agreement on voluntary measure by naming the facts, which validate the compromised situation. Also, note that a child over 14 years old must also sign the agreement;
ii) If there is no acknowledgment of the facts nor the will to improve the situation, the case then will be referred to the Youth Court. At any time during the process, the youth and his parents, assisted by a lawyer, can address the court.
At this stage, the Head of Program and the Clinical Activity Specialist of RTS/EO Department will discuss and guide every situation. The RTS is therefore the entranceway for all interventions of the Director of Youth Protection. Which means, without a report, the Director of Youth Protection does not intervene.
2) The Service of Application of Measures (AM)
When a child’s situation is the subject of a voluntary or court-ordered measure, this team will work with the child and his family to put an end to the compromised situation.
The Application of Measures Team is present in the seven communities of the Ungava Bay and generally consists of a social worker and a social assistant worker in each village.
After six months of working with the family or three months before the end of measures, the Director of Youth Protection, has the obligation to review the situation of each child and their parents in order to determine if the objectives were met or not and/or if the compromised situation still exists.
3) The Revision Services
It is the reviser at this stage, mandated by the DYP, to revise each situation of the children and their family followed by the DYP. This step is mandatory, since the reviewer after consulting the parents, youth involved and the various collaborators will redirect each situation either towards a closure or towards a continuation of the measures. Other measures can also be discussed with the family if necessary. At this point, the parents and the child can also petition the court if they do not agree with the proposed path of the situation.
4) Resource Department (Foster Home / FH)
This service is responsible for recruiting, evaluating, and supporting all Foster Families of the Ungava Bay. When a placement is necessary and the extended family cannot welcome the child, the use of an accredited Foster Family may be necessary. The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) has the mandate to accredit all foster families following the recommendations of Foster Home workers, also approved by the Director of Youth Protection.
Once per year, the Foster Home workers are also responsible for re-evaluating all foster families by submitting the assessment and its recommendations to the Director of Youth Protection and the NRBHSS, who has the authority for the final accreditation and yearly renewal.
5) Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)
This service is responsible for applying the Criminal Justice System Law for adolescents aged from 12-18 years old throughout the seven communities of the Ungava Bay.
The YCJA Team must assess and evaluate youth who have committed infractions under this Act. Depending on the infractions, workers may need to assess these youth by looking at the possibility of using alternative measures and actions to improve their situation (minor infractions).
Concerning major infractions, workers may be required to produce a pre-decision report (PDR) and present the recommendations to a Judge of the Criminal Court following the YCJA’s criteria. It is only by a Court Order from the judge that the infraction committed by the youth that leads to a sentence to probation with or without follow-ups of the recommended conditions (curfew, active on the work field etc.) which are dictated by the judge.
The Judge, depending on the high severity of the infraction committed, can sentence an open or a closed rehabilitation as a retribution.
It is also important to highlight the close collaboration of the seven communities in the empowerment of these youth by providing places to accomplish their community work and make them accountable towards their victims.
The rehabilitation of young offenders and their empow-erment are at the heart of all interventions with the YCJA clientele.
Executive Management Department
Ungava Tulattavik Health Center
The NRBHSS initiated in 2013 a review of the protection services provided to youth in Nunavik, and how this clientele could benefit from special cultural and regional adaptations. It created a special committee to oversee such proposal for changes, the “Regional Advisory Committee on Youth Services” (RACYS). It hired in 2017 a professional to assist with this task in the person of Mina Beaulne as its Integrated Youth and Family Advisor. In the Fall of 2017, the NRBHSS outreached to all local and regional organizations to obtain their support toward the project. It mobilized northern villages, landholding corporations, Qarjuit, KI, KRG, Makivik and others, by way of resolutions. Following, the NRBHSS created the Sukait Working Group, composed of representatives from:
NRBHSS, Family Houses, Makivik, Qarjuit, Wellness Workers, DYPs, Elder Committees, Social Services, Qajaq Men Association, Saturviit Women Association, KRG, KI
The Sukait Working Group (WG) was mandated to:
Analyze the current state of the youth and family services in Nunavik, to review the different models applied in other Native communities across Quebec and to propose recommendations to develop youth and family services and Youth Protection services culturally adapted to the specific needs of the Inuit, and more specifically; Overview the current portraits of the services offered to youth and their families in Nunavik; Analyze the current portrait of the Youth Protection Services in Nunavik; Define the foundations, the conception of Youth Protection for Nunavimmiut; Examine the various alternative programs and adaptations made by other Aboriginal communities; Recommend best culturally adapted practices and approaches in order to gain parental and community involvement within the Youth Protection Services; Recommend, if deemed appropriate, culturally adapted modalities and/or possible modifications to the YPA under 37.5; Propose special measures for beneficiaries living outside the region; Recommend, if deemed appropriate, the structure for the services to youth and their families; Recommend implementation, timeline and training mechanisms of the program; Evaluate the program after its implementation.
In order to make recommendations, a consultation process was elaborated involving a wide and thorough series of community visits, group discussions and individual interviews. Supported by the University of Montreal’s Pitutsimajut research team, conclusions were developed under this root-based approach, which are forming part of the Report: “Strengthening Families of Nunavik: An exploration of the current youth and family services to consolidate services for youth, families and communities” (2017-2019, NRBHSS).
This report laid the foundation for the projects and initiatives which are developed by the Nunavimmi Ilagiit Papatauvinga in accordance with the six principles defined out of the consultations. The main objective being so, at the pace of the communities, Inuit rebuild a continuum of services based on Inuit knowledge and ways, so that the Youth Protection Act be used as the law of exception it is.
PRINCIPLE 1: Children and families are at the center. They are supported by extended family, by the community, by workers within services. Everyone is working together to protect and support the family. Families receive support no matter who they are and no matter whether the children are in their care or not.
PRINCIPLE 2: Inuit are guides and decision makers making sure that all services are grounded in Inuit Knowledge and practices.
PRINCIPLE 3: Services are integrated into a complete continuum.
PRINCIPLE 4: Services are delivered according to Inuit ways, needs and knowledge.
PRINCIPLE 5: Sukait members are the Pillars that are in charge of creating and supervising the implementation of the action plans of youth and family services of Nunavik.
PRINCIPLE 6: Respecting the rhythm and realities of Nunavik, all the meanwhile supporting the steps towards transformation ad self-determination.
ABOUT THE NUNAVIMMI ILAGIIT PAPATAUVINGA (NIP):
That NIP instrument was soon created to operationalize the needs and objectives contained at the Sukait Report, which are revolving around the imperative for an integrated and adapted continuum of services for youth and families in Nunavik. Under the guidance and leadership of Mina Beaulne and her colleague Vanessa Legault, the NIP proposed a 2 phase approach based on discussions with a subcommittee on governance composed of members of the Sukait WG.
Phase 1 shall see tackled the most pressing challenges involving Youth Protection, all the meanwhile enabling the planning of the NIP structure, foundation and financing. It will involve developing and implementing training for all workers as well as organizational policies for all new services contemplated. These refer to family councils and wisdom councils, supportive bodies that are to be embedded in the continuum of services in order to provide support to youth and their families so to avoid youth protection in their life as much as possible. Teresa Etok has been hired to coordinate the implantation of family councils in Nunavik, and pilot projects are unfolding. She will be supported by two agents for the Ungava region: Anna Kristensen and Ellasie Annanack.
Phase 2 will target implementing structures and services, improved as new ones, with a prevention and community mobilization angles. Working committees should at this stage be formed to develop guides and recommendations. Collaboration paths are also to be further explored, notably with the family house network. The idea is to build a continuum of services that will allow stronger first line services that are culturally safe, provided by Inuit workforce, and delivered in and outside of the health and social services network. The actualization of better working conditions for Inuit workers are hence supported by the NIP.
Based on a circular model of shared responsibility and support, with children and families at its core, the NIP is leading a transformation of the services to youth and families, as they have been formerly thought, provided and experienced. While thinking realistically of the challenges to putting this vision in action, a call for an agreement with the Government of Quebec under section 37.5 of the Youth Protection Act is further contemplated, as part of this vision for Inuit ownership over culturally and contextually appropriate services. The Sukait Consultation Report in closing frames how next steps shall be envisioned:
“Creating an Inuk system requires many strong Inuit leaders in all communities that feel competent in the field of youth and family services including youth protection. The leaders need to have the time, the support, and life context necessary to take on these tasks.
Without strengthening front line and without transforming the interventions and work environments, turnover of Inuit and non-Inuit workers will remain high, and families will still lack trust in services. The desired transformations require increased and well-trained human resources that are all working under a common vision and approach led by Inuit.
Sukait is committed to working through the challenges to find optimal solutions based on the current capacities within the objective of developing a strong foundation for children, families and communities of Nunavik.”
REGARDING MAKIVIK’S INTERVENTION TO THE COURT OF APPEAL IN THE CHALLENGE REGARDING AN “ACT RESPECTING FIRST NATIONS, INUIT AND MÉTIS CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES” (FORMERLY KNOWN AS BILL C-92)
The present note summarizes the context in which Makivik Corporation (Makivik) sought intervention status in a Reference to the Court of Appeal proceedings. This case, brought by the Attorney General of Quebec, argues that the federal Parliament’s 2019 Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, is unconstitutional because it is outside the federal government’s powers.
This Act (called C-92 when it was a Bill) recognizes that “Indigenous peoples have an inherent right to make laws regarding the child and family services,” including youth protection. It affirms that the inherent right of self-government includes jurisdiction over child and family services by Indigenous groups or governments. The Act also sets out principles concerning youth protection for Indigenous children that apply across Canada. The Act foresees these principles applying to Quebec and all provinces, even if a province does not agree with them.
Quebec is contesting this law for two reasons: 1) It believes that provinces should always be in charge of child and family services, and that Indigenous peoples may only assert control over this matter if they have an agreement with (i.e. they are authorized by) the provincial government; 2) It does not believe that the federal government should be able to unilaterally recognize the existence of section 35 rights – in other words, it believes that the province should always have to give its permission before Aboriginal rights can be recognized or asserted.
The main party responding to Quebec’s challenge to the legislation is the Attorney General of Canada, who is arguing in favour of the Act. However, because of the importance of the questions for Indigenous peoples in Quebec and across Canada, many groups representing Indigenous interests have intervened to argue in favour of the constitutionality of the Act. These groups are:
• The Assembly of First Nations
• The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador
• The First Nations Health and Social Services Commission of Quebec
• Makivik Corporation
• The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada
• Aseniwuche Winewak Nation of Canada
Makivik remains a strong proponent of the Act, essentially because it recognizes Indigenous peoples’ inherent right to make laws and exercise jurisdiction in the area of child and family services. It has great interest in the possibilities this Act provides, in relation to the future Nunavik Assembly and Inuit Government. It was considered important from a Nunavik point of view that this tool, newly made available to Indigenous peoples in Canada, remains in place. This to give Nunavimmiut the opportunity, when the time comes, to assess all options before deciding on a governing course of action.
The case itself will not address whether the avenues made available under the provincial system, including art. 37.5 of the Youth Protection Act, are good or adequate. The focus will be whether the federal government had the jurisdiction to recognize the right of Indigenous groups to adopt their own laws on child and family services. Makivik’s intervention is about trying to keep the option provided by this Act open. Having been granted intervenor status on February 25, 2020, Makivik submitted early December evidence in which Makivik informs the court about the Nunavik Inuit own realities and challenges, in a debate which may otherwise be too focused on constitutional details or First Nations’ perspectives. Hearings will be held in September 2021.
FOR ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Makivik Legal Department